Archive for January, 2015
As a design professional, you are working in a client-driven industry. This means that your ability to do your job successfully is dependent upon your ability to work well with clients and master the complicated art of balancing their wishes with your professional knowledge and skill. Navigating your way through a design project with a client can be a pleasant and rewarding experience, and if you’re truly passionate about your work, you’ll find a way to make even challenging client relationships work! There are some types of clients, however, that can be particularly difficult to work with even in the best of situations. Here are some behaviors to keep an eye out for, and tips on how to handle clients who might test your patience!
1. “We’re doing it my way”
Even though they’ve made the choice to hire a professional, some clients are hesitant to give you control of the project. Most can be coaxed into letting you steer the boat if you are informative and respectful of their concerns, but every once in a while, you’ll encounter a client who just won’t take your professional advice and insists on doing things their way, even if you’ve warned them that their way isn’t the best option. Some design professionals find this particularly frustrating when the client opposing all of their decisions has questionable taste! Don’t question your knowledge simply because a client won’t listen. In the end, they are paying the bill and therefore have the final word in most cases, but you are still the professional and you are justified in telling them why you recommend doing things differently and what you think would be best.
2. “You’re charging me for THAT?”
Some clients have misgivings about paying money for professional services, even though they’re the ones who hired you! At the outset they might agree to your pricing, but as the project moves forward, you might find certain clients resisting the topic of payment, especially where additional charges are involved. You will have to practice patience and respectfully remind them that aspects of the project naturally cost more if they decide they want additional services, or if unavoidable complications arise. Don’t let a client who is afraid to invest in their project devalue your services and stop you from charging appropriately. You are a professional and you provide a specialized service. Whether or not the client thinks that you should be charging them for an unscheduled consultation meeting they requested last minute doesn’t mean that you should be providing your expertise for free.
3. “You can make that work, right?”
Because they aren’t professionals in your industry, it’s understandable that some clients might be confused about precisely which services are actually within your scope. This can result in their expectations not aligning with what you’re actually prepared to do on their projects. You can try to manage this by asking them right away, during your first consultation, what their expectations of you actually are. Some clients, however, might continue to operate on the assumption that you will be able to pull any service they want out of a hat at any time. Politely but firmly remind these clients that you specialize in certain services, and also that these services take time and cannot be provided on a whim. Reiterate this at each step and suggest any contacts you have that might be able to provide them with the additional services they’re looking for. If the problem is that they’re expecting things from you on an unrealistic timeline, try updating them frequently and providing them with as firm of an idea of how much time you’ll need to complete current tasks as possible.
4. “But the customer is always right!”
Sometimes, no matter how reasonably you deal with a client’s demands or how good you are at accommodating high expectations, you will encounter people who are still very difficult to satisfy. You may have heard the old saying “The customer is always right”, and it’s likely that your client has as well! Unfortunately, there’s no secret handbook for helping difficult clients realize that, even though design professionals must cater to their paying clients, they are not obligated to accept disrespect. Standing your ground when you are handling the situation correctly and remaining respectful yourself are your best tactics for helping a client realize that your decisions are made for a reason and that you aren’t just there to mindlessly do their bidding.
5. The one who doesn’t say anything
Perhaps the most difficult client to deal with is the one who fails to communicate. Most tactics for dealing with challenging clients involve interacting with the person, which is very difficult if they aren’t answering any lines of contact! Clients who don’t answer their phone and miss meetings, but still insist that they want to go ahead with the contract when you do see them, force design professionals to choose between procrastinating until they can get more information or ‘winging it’ on very little information in the interest of finishing the project. If you choose to wait on certain decisions until you can get a hold of the client, you risk dragging the project out much longer than your schedule can afford. If you move ahead without clarification from the client, however, you risk wasting money and effort on something that they will make you change later. You will have to do your best to balance completing your work to the best of your ability with keeping in contact with the client as well as you can under the circumstances.
Take a deep breath!
Remember, these behaviors aren’t standard for every client! Don’t let the prospect of dealing with difficult people prevent you from doing the work you enjoy. If you can remain collected and concentrate on doing your job to the best of your ability in any circumstance, your clients will see how professional you are and how much you care about your craft. This might not solve the problem for you, but it will certainly help you avoid aggravating a tense situation. The positive contracts and wonderful clients that most of your business will be made up of will balance out the rest!
For more information on how to handle a design project with a difficult client, check out the courses here at QC Design School!
Considering a big career change can be a daunting prospect no matter how long you’ve been in your current position. Checking out new career opportunities, however, doesn’t have to be a scary thing! As long as you’re prepared to invest time into researching your options and choosing the path that you think is best for you, taking steps towards a new career can be an exciting process! Here are some exciting career paths that you may not have considered before, and tips on how to take the first step toward getting more information about them!
Where should you start?
If you’re considering a career change, then you’ve already taken the first step! What happens, though, if you haven’t gotten as far as choosing what you’d like to do next? Most often, people’s choices for new career paths fall into one of these categories:
It’s something you’ve always wanted to do, but you’ve never had the chance. Maybe now is the time to finally try it?
It’s something that you already know you’re good at or very passionate about, but you’ve never devoted your whole attention to it or tried doing it full time.
It’s something that you used to do and enjoyed, but circumstances prevented you from continuing.
It’s something you’d never thought of doing until very recently. You just know that you need a change, and you’re open to new ideas.
What are the first steps?
Once you’ve figured out what you’d like your new career path to be, you can take the next step in seeking more information about that industry. Even if you’re not entirely sure which direction you’d like to go in, researching a few different careers can still help you narrow down your decision. Gathering details and informing yourself about your options is never a bad thing. Here are some ways that you can help yourself come closer to a decision:
Check out online forums:
This is one of the most accessible ways to learn about a potential new career path. Reading what other people have to say about their experiences working in an industry can be especially useful if your mind isn’t fully made up yet. You shouldn’t base your choice entirely on the words of others, but you’ll know it might not be the right career for you if you’re unsure after reading a few people’s accounts of their professional experiences. You might, however, find testimonials from working professionals very inspiring. If you’re visiting a discussion forum, you can usually interact with the professionals you’re reading about in order to have your questions answered.
Talk to professionals in your local area:
If they have time, speaking with local professionals working in the industry that you’re curious about can be extremely helpful. Not only will you be getting details from someone actually doing the job you might pursue, but you’ll also be getting information that is specific to your area. If you’re interested in staying there for your career transition, information about the local industry is especially valuable!
Attend conferences or information fairs:
Unfortunately, conferences and information fairs aren’t always an option, particularly if you live in a small place or somewhere with a very small industry. If you have the opportunity, however, attending information sessions or open conferences can be extremely helpful. The whole point of information fairs, after all, is for you to learn about the industry! These events also present you with a unique networking opportunity, which can be beneficial if you do pursue that career path.
Take part in online seminars:
While online seminars and information sessions aren’t quite as useful for networking opportunities as those you can physically attend, they’re still extremely helpful and are much more accessible. The seminars are often interactive, with a live chat forum for asking questions and speaking with others who are curious about the industry.
Look up schools like ours:
Even if you’re not sure that additional training is what you need, looking at the information provided by professional training programs for the career you’re interested in can be very informative. Most schools provide detailed breakdowns of exactly what the career involves, what qualifications those professionals need, and what you can expect to gain from working in that industry.
What are some interesting career options to start with?
Did you know there are many different types of careers within the industry that caught your eye? If you’re having trouble narrowing down exactly what it is you’d like to do, learning about the industry more thoroughly might help you! Perhaps there’s a specialized career option that’s best for you? Here are some examples of why you should always seek more information:
Event Planning: If you think you might be interested in the world of event planning, have you considered which aspect of the industry might suit you best? Are you interested in general event planning, where you might organize a birthday party one day and a business meeting the next? Would corporate event planning, specifically, interest you more? Perhaps you’d prefer wedding planning. Maybe you thought you were interested in even planning but, now that you’ve got more detail, you’ve realized that your interests really lie in event décor. The world of event planning is diverse!
Design: There is more than one type of design professional, and knowing how you’d like to specialize is the key! Are you more interested in the architectural structure of the room, like an interior designer might be? Would you rather concentrate on the style and flow of the room as an interior decorator? Perhaps home staging would be your strength. Seeking more information about becoming a design professional is important and can help you determine which type of career you’re most interested in and which steps you’ll need to take to get there.
Makeup artistry: The makeup industry is among the most diverse! You may have decided that you’d like to be a makeup artist, but have you thought about what type of makeup you’d like to specialize in? Wedding makeup, glamour and fashion makeup, theatrical and fantasy makeup, and special effects makeup are just some of the options open to you!
Deciding that you’d like to make a career change is the first step to succeeding at something new. By researching the opportunities available to you, you’re taking the steps to reach a new goal in the working world and helping yourself make the most informed career shift that you can.
Don’t forget to take a look at the variety of courses QC has to offer to see if we can help you take advantage of new career opportunities!
Working as a professional in the design industry presents you with many different career options. Even once you’ve decided on which type of design professional you’d like to be, you have several exciting options for additional revenue streams within each specialization! These let you practice new skills, change up your routine, and supplement your income. For example, interior decorators might spend most of their time conducting their usual design process with clients. In the off season or during slower business periods, however, there are many things that interior decorators can do to continue earning money for their professional design skills above and beyond simply working with private clients. Here are some additional revenue streams for interior decorators!
Many professional interior decorators are paid for time spent presenting on their area of expertise in order to help other decorators and communicate within the industry about new trends, techniques, or information. Others are asked to speak at events like home and design shows in order to highlight the benefits of hiring a decorator to groups of potential clients. Guest speaking presents decorators and other design professionals with the opportunity to network with other people in their industry, as well as with people seeking their services. It also gives them the chance to set themselves on the map as experts in their field, as a good presentation will contribute positively to their reputation. Many guest speaking opportunities will be offered to more experienced professionals, but this isn’t to say that the input of beginning interior decorators is never sought after or valued. Because you have recently completed your training, you might be viewed as having a fresh outlook on the industry. Rather than hiring someone who’s been practicing the same techniques for years, some event coordinators might seek out new decorators to get an updated perspective on industry-related issues. If you conduct yourself professionally and display that you’re very knowledgeable in your area, you might be looked upon as qualified to speak at events despite being fresh on the scene!
Writing and publishing:
At international and local levels, there are many different magazines, websites, blogs, and information sources that design professionals can write for! Writing can be a great source of additional revenue, particularly during slower periods when you have more time to invest in developing a quality piece. Because you’re a working professional in your industry, you’re considered an expert, so your input might be valued by many different publications, particularly if your insight is unique and up to date and your writing is detailed and clear. Writing is a great additional revenue stream because it’s something that you can be very pro-active about! Particularly as a beginner in the industry, you might have to wait until things like guest speaking opportunities are presented to you. With writing, however, you can take action and contact different sources to inquire about publication opportunities. Seasoned professionals might be approached by magazines and websites for publications, but beginner interior decorators can still find extra income in writing by taking the first step and communicating actively with magazines and websites about writing opportunities.
Hosting seminars and workshops:
Like guest speaking opportunities, the chance to host an event is often given to more experienced professionals who have had the time to build a reputation. Even so, newer interior decorators and design professionals might still find themselves given the chance to host seminars or workshops in order to generate additional revenue. Perhaps this event is put on by the design company you’re working for and they want to give you a challenge and see you display your skills outside of the traditional designer-client structure? Maybe a local group of architects or contractors has organized a seminar for potential clients seeking information about renovating their homes, and they’d like an interior decorator at the event to present attendees with a well-rounded information package about home improvement? Maybe you are a free lance designer and you’d like to take the reins and coordinate with other design professionals in your area to organize a seminar for local clients in order to attract business and generate additional revenue for a number of interior decorators at once? Working with competitors like this can be beneficial for everyone if the seminar is organized as a team effort!
Many professionals in different industries will work on smaller independent consulting projects above and beyond their regular position with a company. Providing there are no conflicts with your contract and your method of gaining independent clients is ethical (i.e. you aren’t soliciting clients away from your company or colleagues), this is a great option for additional revenue for interior decorators. For some clients, getting the professional opinion of an interior decorator before they actually go through with any contract is an attractive option within the process of renovating their home. You might be approached to consult on a space that isn’t yet finished or built, and therefore isn’t ready for you to actually decorate, but you can still provide insight into what kind of decorative potential the space will have. Architects and design professionals with other areas of expertise might sub-contract you to help them determine the physical characteristics of a room so that their client’s decorative vision will be possible once the space is built. Even though you might not be fully conducting your regular interior decoration process from beginning to end, you are still providing insight and knowledge and you will therefore be paid for your expertise when you consult.
Although some opportunities for additional revenue might be presented to you, you should stay active about seeking them out yourself as well! Particularly as a beginning professional, taking on extra projects gives you more than just extra income; it’s also a chance to prove your skills in different contexts and build your reputation in other areas of your industry! Keep an eye out for new chances to develop additional revenue streams in many different areas.
Are you interested in learning more about the different ways that interior decorators and other professionals can establish additional revenue streams? Check out the courses at QC Design School for more useful business information just like this!
January is often a busy time of year for most businesses. Clients are done with their Christmas shopping and are now making New Year’s Resolutions that often require different services.
Consider these scenarios:
People who decide to buy/sell a home over the holidays might need a stager or decorator
Clients might make a New Year’s Resolution to redecorate their home or a specific space. They’ll be looking for decorators, feng shui experts, and/or redesigners!
“Getting organized” might very well be in the top 10 New Year’s Resolution Lists. Enter you, Professional Organizer!
So how do you ensure you get a piece of the “New Year Client” pie? Smart vendors will beef up their marketing during this time. Here are some tips you can use to start your New Year Marketing Campaign!
1: Think of a “New Year” Campaign
Relevant content, as we all know, is the #1 most useful element in any successful marketing campaign! Think about what type of message you could launch seasonally that will resonate with your specific target audience.
These messages could be along the lines of “New Year, New You”, “Time for a Change”, “Start the New Year off Right” or whatever other message you think might work.
Just remember: Your target audience has to read your message and think “Hey! That’s me!”
2: Develop your content
Once you have a great idea for a New Year campaign, think about how and where you can spread the message. You can develop some targeted content for:
Your social media accounts
Your paid advertising
Your SEO efforts
Your email marketing campaigns
Of course, you can develop only a few pieces of content and repurpose them for the above channels. The key is to deliver a punchy message for the channel where you’re advertising.
For example, say you write a great blog article about “things to do after a New Year Engagement”. Your target audience here is pretty clear, right? Ok. Now you can develop Social Media content that links to that article. You can build SEO strategies around getting more traffic to that one article. You can even run an email marketing campaign for it!
3: Increase your presence
In addition to spreading your new seasonal content, consider simply upping your game on all channels.
More exposure of your brand – whether it be to your seasonal content or not – will do you some good if you believe there is an increased demand for your services.
Examples of increasing your presence would be:
Adding keywords and increasing budgets on your paid advertising
Increasing your blogging frequency (if you typically blog once a week, increase to three or four times a week. If you blog once a month, try once a week or even more frequently during peak seasons.)
Increase your post frequency on social media (but don’t go overboard!)
4: Analyze your Results
Very quickly, you should be able to tell if your targeted campaign is working or not. This is where your website analytics are vital!
Especially if you’re using paid advertising, be sure to closely monitor your spend after you launch your campaign. You don’t want an irrelevant ad to eat up your entire marketing budget.
If you’re seeing a large amount of inbound traffic without much other impact (no increased leads or additional client sales, for instance), then likely potential clients like your marketing message but don’t see the continuity when they get to your website. You might want to consider a targeted landing page in this case.
5: Remember to end it!
Have you ever roamed the Internet in April only to find an ad for “Christmas Sales”? It happens. That’s for one of two reason. Either:
- The business plum forgot to take down the ad; or
- The business purposely decided to leave the ad up because it performed better than other ads in the past.
If you’re thinking #2 above is a good idea… then we need to have words. Please don’t do it. If your seasonal ad is performing wayyy better than any other ad you’ve ever had, then think about why the message is doing so well, and how you can devise another message to be equally as productive.
By the way… You might also want to consider what metrics you’re using to decide how successful your ad is!
Do you ramp up your marketing during peak seasons? Have you had much luck with this approach? Let us know in a comment!
Like most design professionals, interior decorators might find that they experience an increase in business around the New Year. Following the holidays, people are making resolutions and setting goals for the coming year, and for many people, those goals involve buying a new home! As a result, you might find yourself approached by many new clients at once for different types of contracts. Don’t let the rush overwhelm you! Preparing ahead of time, before everyone returns from their holidays, can help you feel more confident when your busy New Year season hits!
1. Identify your clientele
In order to fully prepare for a busy season, you must know what types of clients you’ll be working with! You might be approached by clients who are currently looking to buy a home and want your consultation on the spaces they’re seeing because they have a vision in their mind. You will be asked to help them assess the homes they view and evaluate whether the style and size of the central rooms will work for their theoretical floor plan. In this case, you will have to be versatile and prepare yourself to adapt one theoretical design to several spaces. You might also be approached by clients who have recently bought a home or are in the process of settling a deal, and would like your help planning for the space they’ve already chosen. In this case, you must prepare to adapt one space to a number of potential designs until your clients are happy with a particular floor plan. Finally, you might be approached by a seller or their real estate agent to revamp the décor of a particular space in order to increase the selling value of the home and make rooms more appealing to potential buyers. Knowing all of the scenarios that you might be working in will enable you to prepare more thoroughly for a busy post-holiday home buying season!
2. Set out your pricing
Once you’ve identified your potential clientele, you can prepare a pricing system or package for each scenario. Establishing standard pricing can be very helpful during busy seasons, and it also guarantees fair and consistent pricing between clients of each type, setting clients’ minds at ease about things like being over charged. For new clients that haven’t used your services before, having standardized pricing makes for quicker and easier consultation meetings and more efficiency than spending consultation time calculating prices and deciding on payment systems on a case by case basis. Prepare price lists and payment options for each type of client that you’ll encounter in the New Year rush in advance, and adapt if necessary.
3. Prepare a standard contract
Identifying the types of clients that you’ll be approached by also allows you to format a standard contract template. Once you’ve conducted a consultation and determined which services the clients are looking for, the specifics of that case can be filled in on the contract template accordingly. Developing a clientele specific contract template saves more time than beginning from scratch or working from a vague, generalized format. Develop a template and list of possible services for clients who want your consultation during their home buying process, clients that want you to decorate a space that they’ve recently chosen, and clients who are seeking your help in order to sell their home. Walking into a consultation meeting with a partial contract already in your hand gives clients a resource to view while they consider your services, and gives you fewer details to worry about in the moment.
4. Research trends
Part of preparing for a particular type of client before they’ve approached you is anticipating their wants and needs. Which looks are very trendy right now? What styles might your clients hope to see in their new space? Which furniture pieces will attract the attention of buyers who are looking for something fresh and new? If you can predict what your clients might want to see, you can better prepare yourself for creating a number of current, up to date décor plans at once in order to keep up with both your busy New Year season and the latest interior décor fashions.
5. Stay organized
Remember to manage your time efficiently and stick to agreed upon time frames. During the New Year home buying season, you might find yourself working on more contracts than usual and conducting more meetings than you’re used to juggling at once. Additionally, you’ll have to adapt if you’re handling several different types of clients, all with different expectations. Pre-formatting your commonly used documents will help you organize yourself more efficiently, but you’ll also have to practice very good time management. Where you might have space for small talk with each client during slower business periods, you’ll have less time to waste during a busy New Year rush. Preparing thoroughly for the rush of home buyers in advance can help you maximize the time you do have!
Be pro-active! Preparing yourself for career challenges like busy seasons in the New Year can help you flourish as a new interior decorator! For more helpful business tips for design professionals, check out our courses at QC Design School!
There’s no better time for a fresh start and a new perspective than at the beginning of a new year! Setting goals for the coming year and making New Year’s resolutions can be a great way to transform yourself and shed whatever insecurities, bad habits, or negativity that plagued you throughout the last year. Of course, the turn from the year 2014 to 2015 won’t magically solve all of your personal and professional problems! Meeting your goals and overcoming your hurdles will take work! Here are some ways that you can work on personal development throughout the new year to maximize your potential and transform into a ‘new you’!
1. Try not to give in to negativity
Avoiding negativity is, of course, much easier said than done. Despite how difficult overcoming negative thoughts can be, this is an essential step in changing for the better in the New Year. Particularly if you’re coming out of recent difficult experiences, concentrating on the positive things around you will help you avoid being held back by negative thoughts. When you start feeling gloomy, take a deep breath and think of things that make you happy. Resort to easy, accessible steps that you can do quickly in order to cheer yourself up almost anywhere before negative feelings take root. Keep a picture of a very happy memory on your phone, listen to a song that makes you feel cheerful, or look an old text that you’ve saved that makes you feel appreciated. If nothing else works, sometimes you do just have to ride the negative feelings out. Make it your resolution, however, to firmly pick yourself up as best you can once you’ve taken the time to let yourself feel down. Don’t let negativity become the norm!
2. Practice gratefulness
Thinking of all the things you have to be grateful for can actually help you with your goal of stamping out negativity! If you can think of at least one thing every day that you appreciate in your life, things might look a little brighter. If you operate in your daily routine thinking about how grateful you are for your good job, your nice home, your great friends, or even little things like a yummy breakfast in the morning, you’ll find yourself in a much better mood than if you spend your morning grumbling about how much your commute to work sucks. Practicing gratefulness can also be highly motivating. The more positively you feel about your life and the opportunities you’re afforded, the more likely you are to be pro-active about achieving goals.
3. Don’t forget about self care
Particularly when you’re very busy, it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself! Of course, you’ll probably still remember to take a shower and eat at some point during the day, but remember that it takes more than the basics the make sure that you’re well cared for mentally, physically, and emotionally. Working hard is important, and also essential to achieving both professional and personal goals, but if you’re working yourself to the bone every day and letting that carry into your weekends, you might burn out. Every once in a while, take a self care day to rest. Take a hot shower, read the book you’ve been meaning to finish, call the friend or relative you haven’t had time to catch up with, or give yourself a few extra hours of sleep. Do what your body needs and what your mind feels like doing. These can be important to thorough wellbeing just like eating enough healthy meals!
4. Work on communication with others and yourself
Communication is a life skill, both personally and professionally. If you can communicate your wants and needs to others and listen effectively when they answer, you’ll progress towards your goals much more easily. Think about which areas of communication you need to work on most. Maybe you’re an outgoing, talkative person who would benefit from scaling back just a little and listening to those around you more carefully? Maybe you’re a very shy person who keeps their feelings hidden and gets brushed off easily, and so would benefit from speaking up more? Maybe your problem is something as simple as talking too fast or forgetting to check your spelling when you email colleagues? Identify where your communication skills could use improvement, and apply yourself to adopting those improved habits so you can use them as tools to work towards larger goals.
5. Practice stress management
Some stress management tactics can be done in the moment, some are preventative, and others are done in reflection after you’ve made it through the stressful situation. The important thing to note is that stress can throw off your progress in all other aspects of self-development, so you should be mindful of how it affects you and what triggers you most. Some people use meditation or yoga to calm themselves and reduce stress, while others keep their schedules and workloads as organized as possible so they don’t become overwhelmed. Whether you find an outlet in sports, writing, or social activities, try to channel your stress into something productive to minimize the negative toll it takes on you and the progress you’ve made. Don’t adopt a “suck it up” attitude when it comes to stress if there’s something you can do to help yourself!
You’re worth it!
Remember, self-development should be an empowering process, not something you feel obligated to put yourself through because you didn’t feel good enough before! You’re simply striving to be the best version of yourself that you can be. If one of your goals for becoming a ‘new you’ is going back to school, check out the different courses here at QC Career School to see if we can help you reach your goals!