Archive for September, 2015

Are you the kind of person who loves to keep things neat and tidy? Do you take neatness a step further to create efficiencies wherever you can? You probably have what it takes to be a professional organizer! In fact, if you find yourself itching to organize not just your own stuff, but your friends’ stuff too, you might be perfect for the job.

The professional organizing industry is booming. People are taking on more jobs and projects, giving them less time to stay organized at home. Television shows like “Hoarders” have also made hiring a professional organizer realistic and even kind of trendy (but fingers crossed that you won’t have to wade your way through 100 years of newspapers to shake your client’s hand)! Starting a professional organizing career has never been so lucrative and it’s not expected to slow down anytime soon.

Perks of Becoming a Professional Organizer Hoarding

Besides being a trendy, solid, and profitable career choice, here are the top five perks of becoming a professional organizer!

1. Do something you’re passionate about

Do you genuinely enjoy keeping things neat and tidy in your spare time? Do you find yourself itching to organize public places better? As much as people might tease you about your cleanliness, you can actually build a successful career based on your organizational habits.

The best careers are ones that concentrate on what you’re already passionate about, and your love for coordination might be the perfect motivation to start profiting from what you actually love doing.

Perks of Becoming a Professional Organizer Files

2. Help other people

Lack of organization can actually consume a person’s life and limit what they achieve in their day to day routine. Whether it’s their home, their finances, or simply their shoe closet, regaining control is often stressful and time consuming without some guidance.

This is where professional organizers can save the day. You can do more for a person than just organize their closet nicely or help them get a few financial records in order. In extreme cases, you might actually save someone from becoming so overwhelmed by disorganization that their job or personal relationships suffer. Teach your financially struggling client a better way to organize his credit card statements so that due dates are met and interest charges aren’t incurred. Your advice might help him climb out of debt. Help a client with a set of twins and a set of triplets under the age of 5 develop a system to color code, wash, dry, fold, sort, and store her family’s laundry efficiently so it doesn’t overwhelm her home and consume her entire week. Professional organizers do more than just make things look tidy; you will actually make a difference in people’s lives.

Perks of Becoming a Professional Organizer Closet

3. Do fulfilling work

When you play a role in pulling someone out of disorganization, you do more than just help them. You’re also helping yourself feel fulfilled by your career. No matter what kind of client you work with, you’ll feel rewarded at the end of each contract because you’ll see noticeable results. That basement is now a working home office rather than the alarming cave of mysteries it was a week ago.

Professional organizers take action and achieve things. Even if your goal that day is simply to get the closet under control before you move onto the dressers, you’ll always have something to work towards.

4. Gain useful skills

Professional organizers are problem solvers. You’ll be presented with a new set of hurdles each time you start a contract. Your challenge will be to adapt your skills to meet that client’s needs. Contracts that use your past experiences but require some adjustment will teach you the most because this is where you’ll evolve your knowledge and develop new tricks and techniques.

Perhaps there’s a space efficient but “out of the box” way to store the bottles of vintage wine your client has left sitting in heavy, dusty crates for the past 30 years? Your skills are also helpful outside of your work day. The better you become at coordinating objects and information, the more organized you’ll be able to keep your own life and space.

Perks of Becoming a Professional Organizer useful skills

5. Control over your career

Professional organizers can work their jobs in different ways. If you like order and working as part of a team, for example, you might work for a company that specializes in interior decor and design services. Other design professionals might be experienced in making the space look gorgeous, but you’ll help make it functional as well.

If you are willing to risk less structure in order to take more direct control of your career, you might work as a freelancer or small business owner. Evaluate your needs when it comes to scheduling and consider whether you have the necessary skills to provide independent services that will turn a profit.

Perks of Becoming a Professional Organizer

Professional organizing is the kind of career that teaches you valuable life skills while you help others and make a living. It’s also a satisfying option for people who enjoy problem solving, achieving goals, and taking full advantage of the space around them.

Do you think a career in Professional Organizing might be right for you? Visit QC Design School to learn about professional training that will get you started on the right foot!


September 24, 2015 10:22 am

Safety 101 for the Design Professional

Whether you’re an interior decorator, a professional organizer, or a home stager, design professionals are responsible for more than just making a space look aesthetically pleasing. You are also obligated to consider what your clients need within that space to stay safe. In most places, there are certain codes and regulations that your designs must comply with.

Don’t let the idea of safety regulations overwhelm you! As long as you do your research and stay alert while you develop your plan, you’ll create a space that both pleases your client and meets all of the safety requirements they need.

Design Safety 101 Designer at Work

Design professionals are responsible for considering things like:

  • Fire codes
  • Building codes
  • Accessibility regulations
  • Health guidelines
  • Environmental issues

In addition to your clients’ wants and tastes, you should also think about their:

  • Needs and safety
  • Mental and physical health
  • Physical and emotional wellbeing

Here’s a quick breakdown of how safety needs and regulations in your area can influence how you alter private homes, workplaces, and public spaces.

Fire and building codes

To comply with fire and building codes, pay attention to where you place furniture and décor. Avoid blocking entry ways, safety exists, and high traffic areas like hallways. In the event of a fire or emergency, these key areas will be used by panicked people trying to get out, and/or by emergency crews trying to get in (sometimes with large equipment). Make sure everyone can move comfortably around the space, even in a hurry.

Fire codes also influence which materials are safe to purchase when it comes to carpets, furniture, and curtains. In the case of a fire, people are actually in more danger of being harmed by inhaling toxic fumes released into the air when certain materials burn than they are of being hurt by the flames. Research the fire codes in your area and avoid high risk materials.

Design Safety 101 Fire Hazard

Accessibility

Particularly in workplaces and public places, the spaces you design should be accessible to everyone. You’ll be responsible for ensuring that people living with disabilities can move about the space and reach things properly, even if they use a mobility device.

In the United States, accessibility is governed by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Public buildings must meet the ADA standards and accommodate persons with disabilities. Accessibility guidelines vary from place to place but they are regulated almost everywhere. While you’re considering the needs of your clients, research the regulations in your area, especially if you’re working with a business or public building.

Design Safety 101 Stair Lift Accessibility

Health and Safety

Consider the health and safety of everyone who uses the space. Does your client have pets? If so, avoid decorating the space with plants that are poisonous to animals when consumed. There aren’t many cats that can resist chewing on the leaves of a new house plant.

Will small children be in the space frequently? Try not to decorate with small objects that might present a choking hazard. Little figurines placed low enough for small hands to reach can be swallowed easily. Curtains with long, looped tassels hanging down are a strangulation risk for children and animals alike, because their necks might be level with the loops.

Shelves that aren’t anchored to the wall might be climbed and tipped. Open storage for risky products or tools might be too easy to get into. Evaluate the space and your plan very carefully. Part of addressing health and safety concerns is to pet- and child-proof the space reasonably, without getting carried away and bubble wrapping the room.

Design Safety 101 Hazards for Children

Wellbeing

Consider more than just the physical safety of your clients in your design. You should also design with their mental and emotional wellbeing in mind. Make sure there’s enough natural light, give them enough space to move and adjust, and choose a decorative and color scheme that helps to reduce stress rather than contributing to it.

Sustainability

As you transform a space, choose products and services that are environmentally friendly whenever you can. Use materials that aren’t toxic, avoid products that create pollutants, and generally try not to waste resources. Check your local building codes because some cities include guidelines and standards in order to reduce that area’s “global footprint”.

Lighting and acoustics

Especially in the workplace, adequate lighting is important and can even be a safety issue. Many building codes actually regulate the amount of lighting required in workplaces and public buildings. Good lighting helps your clients avoid eye strain, reduces the frequency of accidents, and is essential in the event of an emergency.

You should also be aware of the acoustics in the space. Will that noisy ceiling fan annoy everyone in the office? Perhaps you should skip it. Don’t underestimate the importance of your clients’ ability to see and hear comfortably while they go about their day. This contributes to their overall wellbeing.

Design Safety 101 Natural Lighting for Good Wellbeing

What if the client won’t co-operate?

Some clients already know what they want and talking them out of it can be difficult. If that idea presents a blatant health or safety hazard, however, you’ll need to convince them to choose something else. Your responsibility is to negotiate what the client wants and what meets mandatory health and safety requirements. Steer them towards an option that has a similar style but isn’t as risky. If your client insists that the office should be organized according to their self-taught feng shui ideas, claiming that the best place to put the office desk is right in front of the fire exit, you’ll need to gently guide them towards a safer floor plan.

You might need to help clients rethink what they want even when their idea doesn’t threaten formal building regulations. For example, the client who wants to include a floating staircase as part of the chic new daycare perhaps doesn’t realize the danger this presents. Floating staircases have spaces between each step and can extremely dangerous design for small children, and you should respectfully help them understand why a different style of staircase should be used instead. Remember to keep in mind that a floating staircase (with more than three steps) that has no railings is against safety requirements! Your goal isn’t to scare your clients with stories of things gone wrong, but rather to help them see why another design is safer.

Design Safety 101 Floating Staircase

Aim for balance

Navigating safety regulations while you’re trying to design with style can be a challenge, but it’s essential to coordinating a great space. If you design with safety in mind, the space will meet codes and regulations while also making your clients comfortable. Don’t forget to take your own safety into account as well! If you’ve got a design element in mind that is outside your scope and ability, speak with your clients and contract a professional to get the job done right!

Have you ever encountered a blatant safety violation in a public space? We’d love to hear your stories! Share them in a comment!

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September 17, 2015 12:56 pm

Ways to Increase Your Design Salary

Getting a raise is exciting no matter your career. Design professionals can actually create ways of increasing their salary. Even if you don’t see immediate profit, professionals of every level can do things to benefit their salaries over time.

Assess your skills

Trying to increase your design salary in too many ways at once can be overwhelming. Choose methods that will improve what you do. Ask yourself:

  • Where your strengths lie
  • Where you could improve
  • What you realistically have time for

Assessing your abilities helps you decide which course of action to take. Choose one that will let you profit and thrive.

Design Professional Assessing Skills to Increase Design Salary

Ways to improve your design salary

Options that are good for experienced design professionals aren’t necessarily the same for new professionals, and vice versa. Any designer with confidence and a good work ethic should take whatever steps they’re comfortable with for improvement.

New professionals might consider:

  • Additional training
  • Assistantships

Experienced professionals might consider:

  • Secondary revenue streams
  • Diversifying their skills

You might also try:

  • Networking for new opportunities
  • Improving your portfolio
  • Adjusting your attitude

Choose a strategy

Design professionals who are willing to invest time and effort into improving are already on track to increased salaries. Check out these other strategies!

Additional training

Some design professionals become certified if their local industry is regulated. It is also, however, quite experienced-based. Skills develop during your studies and evolve during hands-on work.

You can also study to specialize in other areas of design and décor. For some professionals, returning to school is the ideal way to increase their design salary. You might not see immediate profit, but it is a solid investment in your career.

Professionals with qualifications and real-world experience build a solid foundation of skill. The better your qualifications and experience, the more people are willing to pay.

Design Professional Additional Design Training to Increase Design Salary

Assistantships

Classrooms aren’t ideal for everyone. Professional programs can also be lengthy and expensive. If you’re already licensed or working in an unregulated area, there are other ways to become a more qualified design professional.

Some experienced professionals hire assistants. Working for a reputable designer or decorator is a great way to learn tricks of the trade. You’ll work closely with a professional, picking up on what they do well and absorbing how they deal with mistakes and emergencies.

Assistantships might not sound glamorous, but they help you become a more qualified design professional. If you train under the most prestigious interior decorator in the country, clients will be willing to pay higher prices than they would otherwise.

Design Assistantship to Increase Design Salary

Networking

Networking with potential clients and other professionals is a great way to find new opportunities that can help you work towards a higher salary.

Learning to network online and in person is important. Design professionals use Facebook groups or website forums to discuss industry related topics and advise each other on problem solving techniques. Perhaps another design professional is looking for a partner for a prestigious contract? Maybe they know of an upcoming position at the company they worked at before branching out? Networking with design professionals that you respect you at tradeshows and events might result in new contracts or recommendations.

Professional Design Networking to Increase Design Salary

Improving your portfolio

A professional portfolio is the design professional’s best tool. For some people, reading or hearing about your work is fine, but pictures of your amazing designs will convince them to hire you.

If you don’t have a portfolio, invest time in creating one. If you have one, make it better! Build an electronic version to send to prospective clients and employers. Put together a physical portfolio to bring to and from meetings. Create a brief online portfolio to give website viewers a taste of your skill.

Creating Design Portfolio to Increase Design Salary

Well organized, professionally displayed photos of your best work shows preparedness. Prospective clients and employers pay more for the services of someone with an impressive portfolio than someone who expects to be hired without proof of their skill.

Your attitude

If you’re looking for ways to improve, you’ve already got the right idea. A positive attitude won’t immediately increase your design salary, but it plays a role in reaching your goals.

Your attitude influences how clients and employers view your professionalism. If you are egotistical, unfriendly, or easily defeated, you won’t be hired as often. Being positive, passionate, and approachable shows others how much effort you invest in your work. Clients and employers pay according to your work ethic.

Positive Attitude to Increase Design Salary

Secondary revenue streams

Experienced design professionals supplement their income with secondary revenue streams. This means more responsibility, but it can also mean higher profit. You’ll continue taking contracts, but you’ll offer additional services as well.

Makeup artists have a wide range of options for supplementing their income.

  • Product representation: Many design professionals become representatives for products and services that they use regularly during their decorating process. They might sell the product at events or tradeshows or suggest it to their clients while they work on contracts.
  • Workshops and seminars: Between contracts, give seminars, guest-speak at events, or host workshops. Also consider online webinars, tutorials, and consultations. Experienced design professionals are often paid to share their expertise with other professionals or advise clients who want to learn about making over their own interior spaces.
  • Expand your services and diversify your skills: If you are a professional organizer, take advantage of the skills you already have to branch into another area of expertise. Seek extra training and expand your skills and services to include interior decorating, adjusting your prices accordingly.

Be proactive to increase Design Salary

Be pro-active!

Being pro-active about your career sets you apart from the competition. Waiting passively for an opportunity won’t benefit you. Find ways to make it happen! Have confidence in your plan of action and take pride in the fact that your profit is based on your own hard work.

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September 15, 2015 8:00 am

Trendy Fall Home Décor Ideas

Design professionals are familiar with how quickly trends can change. Each year, interior décor is influenced by fashion, society, and popular culture. As a result, the colors, patterns, and furniture that were popular last fall might not be the “in” thing this year.

Trends don’t mean the designs you create for your clients this fall will be unfashionable in a year. Design trends evolve from one another and grow from what was stylish before. You can help your clients update their space in simple ways, like adding throw pillows in a trendy color or updating the light fixtures for a new finish.

Trendy Fall Home QC Design Decor Ideas Earth Tones

Whether you’re updating a space or giving the room a complete face lift, here are some trends to consider for fall 2015!

1. Neutral tones

Neutral tones are always a part of the fall season, but this year calls for them especially. Warm, inviting spaces are what’s “in” for 2015 and smooth, calming colors like beige, taupe, sandstone, and olive are the perfect palette for creating that comfortable atmosphere. Research décor colors that were popular in the 1960s and let those be a loose inspiration for this fall (but without quite so much orange)!

2. Color mixing

Are your clients bright, colorful people whose style doesn’t quite fit a neutral palette? Colors are always in style, even when neutrals are the height of popularity. Simply choose from the colors that are trending most. For 2015, the hottest looks are vivid shades of pink, purple, green, aqua, and turquoise, particularly when they’re mixed in bold combinations. If your clients prefer something louder than a simple mix of colors, try combining a color with a bold but complimentary pattern. Of course, you should always be careful with bright colors and patterns. Clashing isn’t in!

Trendy Fall Home QC Design Decor Ideas Color Mix

3. White on white

If neither vivid colors nor neutral tones are the right choice, try something simpler and more visually clean. For bright, spacious rooms, white on white is the fall trend. Place a white sofa on a clean white carpet or compliment the stark white kitchen island with a row of angular white hydraulic stools. Using white as the base color for a room lets you accessorize with colors, patterns, and tones that might clash otherwise.

Trendy Fall Home QC Design Decor Ideas White on White

4. Wall collages

Fall 2015 is a time for personalization. One of the best ways to add a personal touch to a room is with a photo collage. We’re not talking a small, collage-style frame hanging in the corner! Help your clients choose images that make them feel inspired and dedicate an entire wall to creating a bold, uplifting collage. Keep the frames subtle, because they’re not the focus. Instead, play with the size and shape of the collage and the brightness of the images inside. Consider including your clients’ art, pictures of their family, scenery from of places they love, or shots of people and things they love in pop culture.

5. Flea market finds

If you’ve ever been to a flea market, you know that the style of what you’ll find there is a little different than what you might see at a grand antique sale. Think about rustic kitsch style and household wares from periods past, like you might find in your grandmother’s kitchen. Choose pieces that have style and a vintage air about them, rather than objects that look old, worn, or outdated. Incorporate pieces that contribute to the atmosphere you want into the room’s décor in whatever creative ways you can!

6. Incorporate collections

Perhaps a picture collage in the family room isn’t quite personalized enough for your clients. One of the most interesting trends of the season is to include your clients’ collection in their home décor. Of course, this trend might not be the best choice if your clients have spent the last 15 years collecting superhero-themed underpants. Proudly displaying their collection of vintage 45” records as a wall mural, however, is stylish, tasteful and creates an atmosphere.

Trendy Fall Home QC Design Decor Ideas Collections

7. Big, comfy sections

We’ve all sat on chilly modern sofas made of straight lines and shiny materials. These are appealing in certain spaces, but they’re not what are trending for the home this fall. When it comes to seating in the family area, fall 2015 is a time for comfort and warmth. Help your clients choose a soft sectional that they can stretch out on and sink into, no matter the style or color scheme.

8. Dine with old and new

This fall’s trendiest kitchen space combines old and new styles for a comfortable but refreshing look. Take advantage of big spaces to pair large, rustic-looking wooden tables with chairs that feature sleek lines and modern metals or materials. If there are other accent pieces in the room, choose colors and styles for the chairs that coordinate. The contrast between sleek, modern elements and classic older piece creates balance in the room.

9. Vintage style bath tubs

Have you ever visited an old hotel with a grand claw footed bathtub sitting separately from the wall? This vintage style tub is back in fashion for fall 2015. Of course, the claw feet aren’t a necessity if they’re not what your clients are into! You can even draw the rest of the décor in the bathroom together by choosing a colored tub instead of the classic ivory look. Further establish style with tap handles and shower heads in different shapes and finishes. Choose clean silver metal and sleek, straight handles to modernize the tub, or a golden tap with ornate fixtures to hit the vintage theme home.

Trendy Fall Home QC Design Decor Ideas Bathtub

10. Four poster beds

Perhaps the grandest trend in bedroom furniture history is back in style. Suggest a tall four poster bed for your clients’ master bedroom. Choose warm, neutral tones for the curtains (which you can change later for a light summer material). Help your clients choose a wooden finish that makes the room feel comfortable. Wood with a slightly worn driftwood finish is particularly “in”, and large pieces are easily reflected across the room with things like driftwood-style picture frames or end tables.

Trendy Fall Home QC Design Decor Ideas Four Poster Bed

At the end of this season, take a look back at the beautiful designs you’ve created throughout the fall. Look at the colors, furniture styles, and patterns that you incorporated this year and keep an eye on them. Knowing what was in style last season can prepare you for seasons to come!

Have you discovered other up and coming fall home décor trends for 2015? Tell us about them in the comments!

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Meet Chantal! She’s a QC Design School graduate of the Home Staging & Redesign program and owner of Narrative Interiors. We caught up with Chantal to talk about her journey so far, what the future holds for her, and to get some advice for current students!

Let us a little bit about yourself and your business.

It all started with a dream, ambition and a journal. As an Educational Assistant, I worked for our local school board for many years but always felt like I was working for the benefits and not towards fulfilling what I love to do. Knowing that my true passion was interior design and decorating, I took a leap of faith and decided to leave my secure position to start my business. I recorded every step of the process and little did I know that my journal was going to become a story of courage, strength, success, fears, failures, obstacles and doubts.

I started my journey by completing correspondence courses through QC Design School and helping friends and family decorate their homes. After a full year of preparation, I launched Narrative Interiors. I stayed committed to my goal while facing many challenges but accepted that loving what I do also needed to become valuable and profitable.

Room design by QC Design School Graduate

Narrative Interiors is a home staging and interior decorating/design business that focuses on reaching out to all budgets, tastes and lifestyles.

What first motivated you to get into the design industry?

When my two university bound daughters were unsure as to what their future was going to hold, I encouraged them to do what they love and the rest would take care of itself. To my surprise, they challenged me and asked me why I wasn’t pursuing what I loved to do. My initial answer was “because we have to pay for two kids in University” but then after a bit of reflection, I quickly realized that I would always have an excuse. I loved decorating and I knew that I had a talent that needed to be nurtured and explored.

How did you choose QC Design School? What did you like most about your studies?

I did some research online about different programs that were available and was very pleased with the information package I received from QC. I signed up and started my courses while I was still working full-time.

I enjoyed the feedback from the instructor and the flexibility of the course schedule. Seeing that I had a very busy life, I loved the fact that I could do the assignments at my pace. I also enjoyed that the course kit had everything I needed.

Can you tell us a little bit about how you got to where you are today?

I am where I am today because of extreme determination. The first six months were the hardest of them all. I spent many sleepless nights questioning my decision to quit my job to pursue a staging business and I feared that no one would buy the concept of staging and decorating. I would have risked it all simply for “pursuing a passion” and that was a lot of weight to carry. However, project by project I was able to create a demand for NI’s services. Within the first year I grew out of my home-based office and opened up my own studio to accommodate the increasing demands. I truly believe that NI’s success thus far has been because of the amazing team that I work with. I trust and have earned the trust of the many contractors, vendors, and suppliers I work with and for that I am extremely grateful.

What do you find most rewarding about your career?

The most rewarding part of my career is most definitely the amazing people I have met along the way. In our business we don’t sell a product, we sell a lifestyle. So in order to know what my clients need, I have to really get to know them. The relationships that develop during design and decorating projects are by far more rewarding than the successful end result. Also, working with a team of amazing contractors and tradesmen who are exceptional at their skills continuously amaze me. I CANNOT do it without them.

Many of our students have dreams of owning their own business as well. Do you have any advice for those who are just starting out in the design industry?

It is by far the most difficult thing you will ever do. Starting and owning a business is like the scariest roller coaster ride you’ll ever be on except it doesn’t only last a few minutes. The anticipation, the dips, the turns, the fear and the excitement will leave you exasperated at times but will mostly leave you excited. Passion alone doesn’t pay the bills so I would strongly recommend to first build a solid business plan, to get to know the basics of bookkeeping and to develop processes from the onset because the clients WILL be there… Just make sure you’re ready for them when they all come at once (which they will). Surround yourself with positive people and walk away from any negative comments that don’t support your vision. It’s a lot of work and a lot of hours but worth every minute of it when you get to love what you do.

Bathroom design by QC Design School Graduate

The whole office is buzzing about your amazing portfolio. Where do usually you find inspiration for your designs?

Wow… Thank you!! That means a lot to me. 🙂

I’m a big Sarah Richardson fan and I love her style. I try to infuse that fresh look in every project. I sometimes struggle when my clients like dark colours but I do my best to lighten up their space. I don’t have time to watch TV so magazines and fabrics are my biggest sources of inspiration.

We love your business name and logo! Can you tell us a little bit about how you came up with the name?

I can’t take any credit for the name. My close friend had a huge part of the process and I also hired someone from Toronto to come up with the concept. I did not want my name on the business so that at any time I could sell it, grow it or reinvent it without my personal name being attached to it. He knew that I loved being a part of my book club and he took it from there. His idea was “that every home tells a story.” Homes have every element of a great story such as a plot, theme, setting, characters, style, point of view etc. Initially I was worried that the name was too long, too many chances of incorrect spelling, too difficult to say in French, but I took a leap of faith because I loved it! I find it is still too long especially when I have to give my email address but I try to focus on the brand and logo of NI instead.

What does the future hold for you?

That’s a loaded question! My “if I had no limitations” goals for Narrative Interiors would be to see NI become a national name brand. I do not want to be the face behind the business… I want the business to have its own identity. I would like to hire decorators in outside communities as sub-contractors so they would get to do what they love but under NI’s leadership. Somewhat like Decorating Den but a modified version. Technology has allowed us to reach out to as many people as possible so why not share the passion with thousands instead of hundreds! 🙂

My personal goal is to encourage women to pursue their passion and I don’t sugar coat “pursue your passion” because it’s HARD work!!! I’ve had many women approach me or email me to tell me that I’ve inspired them which I find ironic because they are the ones who inspire me to share my story! Until I reach those goals, my future holds many more home renovations along with many more exciting adventures.

Check out some more of Chantal’s work!

QC Design School Graduate Work Sample

QC Design School Graduate Work Sample

QC Design School Graduate Work Sample

Is interior decorating and home staging your passion? Follow your dreams and start doing something you love like Chantal did! Check out the selection of courses offered here at QC Design School.

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September 9, 2015 9:40 am

10 Ways to Deal with Non-Payment

Many small business owners and professionals collect payment from clients by invoicing. This is common and convenient for makeup artists, interior decorators, and event planners, just to name a few. Parties sign a contract and at the end the professional sends an invoice to the client for the amount owing. Clients make payment when they receive the invoice.

This sounds simple enough, but what if the client doesn’t pay the invoice? How should you handle the situation and what can you do to get paid?

Remember: the goal is to get what you’re owed without burning bridges.

Here’s a ten step guide for dealing with non-payment. These tactics maximize your chances of getting paid without making the situation worse.

Tip #1: Have a standard process

Establish protocol to follow when non-payment happens. This way, you can handle each case similarly and fairly. You’ll feel less stress if you’ve already thought about the process and have an idea of what to do next. Don’t leave payment due dates open ended, even if your clients are your friends and neighbors. Set a firm date at the beginning of each contract and standardize how you’ll proceed if it isn’t met.

Tip #2: Contact the client immediately

Contact the Client

If the invoice isn’t paid on time, approach the client immediately. Communication is the best strategy for securing late payments. Some professionals send emails or re-send the invoice, but phone calls tend to be more effective because you can discuss complicated details right away.

Perhaps the client simply forgot and one phone call is all they need? Maybe they’ve had unforeseen expenses and can’t settle the invoice until pay day?

Calling the client directly helps you work toward a solution more quickly than an email and feels less passive aggressive than a repeated invoice.

Tip #3: Ask about their satisfaction

When you call the client, ask if they were satisfied with their experience. It’s possible they haven’t paid their invoice due to a problem with your service. Some clients are hesitant to confront professionals due to the misconception that you won’t do anything to fix the problem. Asking about their satisfaction lets you offer a resolution to any problems and re-evaluate payment from there.

NOTE: If a client happens to be dissatisfied with your service, you might also want to check this out: How to Deal with Bad Reviews

New Payment Date

Tip #4: Agree on a new payment date

Set a new payment date that works for both parties. Don’t settle for vague promises to “as soon as possible”, but remain understanding if there was a legitimate reason for non-payment. Working with your client rather than against them can salvage the business relationship.

Tip #5: Re-evaluate your approach

Some professionals send reminder emails or repeat invoices before they call the client. If you’ve done this, change your strategy and call them. For some people, going from receiving emails to a sudden phone call is enough pressure to get payment.

If that doesn’t work or you’ve already spoken to the client with no luck, maybe assess your tone and language. A formal tone and official wording might be more effective than your usual friendly greeting and warm, casual speech. You don’t want to be rude, but you do want to communicate that you mean business. Remain polite and professional, but get straight to the point.

Tip #6: Send a written warning

A written warning is a formal letter sent to the client. This documents the steps you’ve taken so far, and informs the client of the steps you’re prepared to take.

Never make empty threats! If you aren’t sure you’ll actually take legal action, don’t mention it. Falsely intimidating clients will only make the situation hostile. You’re simply giving the client additional motivation to pay. Instead of threatening legal action if you’re not prepared to go that far, tell the client you’ll be forced to permanently withdraw future services if non-payment continues.

Tip #7: Get professional advice

Get Professional Advice

Facebook groups and professional forums are useful, but they shouldn’t be your only source of information. If you want to pursue the non-payment further, consult a professional. Speak with a lawyer about whether the situation is serious enough for claims court or approach a collections mediator about the details of forwarding the case to a collections agency.

Networking is helpful to get an idea of other professionals’ experiences, but don’t take the information there as concrete fact. The better you educate yourself about your options, the more effectively you can handle the situation.

Tip #8: Decide how to proceed

By now, you’ve tried negotiating with the client, accommodating their needs, and warning them that you’re prepared for further action. If the client still won’t pay, the best strategy in most cases is to permanently withdraw your services. Write them a letter informing them that they are in breach of contract and letting them know that your services are, from this date on, withdrawn. This means that you won’t take them on as a client again.

Legal action might also be an option, but remember that this can be very expensive and time consuming. The cost of hiring a lawyer and taking the client to claims court might be much larger than what you’ll lose from accepting non-payment and moving on. Forwarding the case to a collections agency is also an option. Evaluate whether the cost outweighs the size of the payment.

Tip #9: Stay professional

No matter how frustrated you feel, make sure that you stay professional. You should not, under any circumstances, speak badly about the client to your other clients or colleagues. How you handle non-payments says more about you to the public than it does about your client. Losing future contracts because you were rude or unprofessional isn’t worth getting the money you’re owed by one person. Your private financial dealings with each client should stay private.

Tip #10: Know when to cut your losses

The unfortunate reality of non-payments is that sometimes you’re best to let the contract go unpaid. If the cost of pursuing the payment is higher than it’s worth and negotiations have broken down entirely, continuing the process becomes a waste of time and resources. Account for the loss of profit from the non-payment in your budget and move on to other contracts. Are there aspects of this case that you could have handled better? Are there ways that you could improve communication next time? Learn from your experiences and adjust your non-payment protocol accordingly.

Bonus Tip: Minimize your risk!

Contract and Deposit Payment

It’s not unusual for a professional to require an up-front payment for services. Of course this will depend on the service you provide, but many professionals will at the very least require a deposit from the client when they sign the contract, usually about 30-50% of the estimated cost of the job.

If it’s a large job, such as a home redesign or a luxury wedding, you can also consider a payment schedule during the course of the contract instead of waiting until the job is done. For example, you can require a 30% deposit at contract signing, then another 30% payment on a date about half-way through the job, and the remaining balance at the end of the project.

Collecting payment throughout the job will not only ensure that you will get what you’re owed from your clients, it will also help your client meet their obligations by allowing them to make smaller, more manageable payments instead of one large lump sum.

Non-payment is a frustrating experience. You are a professional, however, and handling yourself with tact is the best strategy. Remember that getting the money from one contract isn’t worth a poor reputation.

Have you ever had an issue with a client who wouldn’t pay their invoice? How did you deal with it? Let us know in a comment!

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Micro-living might be trendy right now, but some college dorms take the idea of living in a small space to a whole new level! Are your clients stressed about how their daughter will adjust to staying organized when she has to live, sleep, and do her schoolwork in a single room? Is the daughter worried about how she’ll fit her impressive shoe collective in a bedroom the size of her current closet? What if she has a roommate? Depending on the college, that single room might be all the space she has to share with another person and their stuff!

You can help your clients and their daughter stay calm by advising them on how to maximize the potential of a very small living space. Just because her room is little doesn’t mean she’ll have to leave everything she owns behind. Reassure your clients and their daughter by recommending strategies like these!

College dorm storage for student

1. Use the space under the bed

When you’re short on space, there isn’t a nook or cranny that should be wasted. What’s better than free space that can be hidden easily? The space under the dorm’s bed is the perfect spot for storing out of season clothing, spare linens, and bulky school supplies. Recommend plastic tubs of various sizes with lids that seal well so things don’t get dusty.

2. Use blank wall space

Remember the golden rule: waste no space! A few simple shelves can make a huge difference when your clients’ daughter starts organizing her course books, schools supplies, or makeup. Rather than just getting creative with the storage space she has available, simple shelving actually creates space. It even gives her a nice, safe spot for some picture frames so she doesn’t feel homesick.

3. Use closet space efficiently

Transforming the inside of the closet can change the whole room. Your clients’ daughter will probably find a single rod in a small, shallow closet with no shelving. Advise her to get a thin hanging shoe rack or hanging shelf and a tension rod so she can hang more clothing half way down. As long as she doesn’t overload these things to the point that they fall down, she’ll have double the storage space in her closet.

4. Keep the desk organized

If your clients’ daughter loses control of her desk right away, she might have trouble catching up when the homework starts. Set her off on the right foot by recommending little, space-efficient storage solutions. She can keep all her pens in one place in a jar and the papers for each class in divided file folders so she doesn’t lose important information. Recommend good desk lamps that keep the space well lit but also have storage around the base for things like staplers, scissors, and sticky notes. Putting small supplies here frees up drawer space.

College dorm storage for desk

5. Hooks and hanging racks

Nothing will help your clients’ daughter keep her dorm clutter-free like having plenty of space to hang things. Recommend hooks and hanging racks that hang over the top of closet and bathroom doors, and hooks of all sizes that stick to the wall without falling down or wrecking the paint. These hooks are perfect for hanging jackets, bath robes, schools bags, or most importantly, wet towels that will get musty if they’re thrown on the floor!

6. Dirty laundry

A laundry hamper is absolutely necessary! Without one, your clients’ daughter will end up with worn clothing all over the floor. This will be a problem when she has limited floor space to begin with. The hamper itself should also be space efficient and easy for her to haul to the laundry room and back. Suggest hanging a medium sized laundry bag on a hook over her closet door. When the bag is full, it’s time to wash and dry!

7. Power

Just thinking about the number of things college students have to plug in can feel disorganized! Make sure your clients’ send their daughter with a quality extension cord and a good, safe power bar to maximize the limited outlets in her dorm, especially if she has a roommate. Sugget that she use colored tape to code each end of her cords so she doesn’t get them mixed up or tangled. Make sure she has enough space for her laptop, desk light, cell phone charger, hair dryer, and so on, but also make sure she knows the dangers of overloading outlets.

Extension cord for college dorm storage

8. Vanity station

Chances are your clients’ daughter won’t be willing to part with all of her beauty supplies, even if they convince her to leave some things behind. College dorms, however, don’t often boast well lit mirrors and makeup tables. Advise that she takes a mirror that can be hung from a stick-on hook, and recommend space efficient stacking drawers for her makeup, hair products, and styling tools. Some good makeup mirrors event come with a light built in so she won’t have to stand near the window!

9. Stacking hangers

Are your clients’ worried that their daughter still won’t have enough room in her closet for all that clothing? Recommend stacking hangers to double the number of things she can hang without ruining things. Of course, she’ll need to make sure the rod in her closet is sturdy first. Stacking hangers have hooks at the neck that another hanger can be hung on to store clothing in two rows. If she can’t find these, she can even use metal pop can tabs looped over the neck of one hanger to hang a second one.

10. A theme

Never underestimate the power of simplicity when it comes to decorating a small space. Your clients’ daughter won’t have room for wall murals or decorative end tables, but she’ll still want the place to look well put together. Advise her to pick a central color and an accent color or pattern, and then stick with that idea when she buys what she needs for the dorm. Storage bins, desk lamps, calendars, and laundry hampers come in all sorts of colors and styles. When there’s no room for frivolous décor, filling the room with bright, cheerful essentials can be enough. Dorms are the perfect space to combine function and aesthetic.

The more organized students are when they move away for college, the more their families can relax. Help your clients prepare their kids the best they can by designing a space that’s perfect for both study and fun.

Do you have other great tips for surviving college dorm living? Tell us about them in the comments!

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