Contrary to early predictions, design activity has been off to a slow start this year. Prospects are good for a stronger second quarter, though, and now is the time to get in front of the wave of potential new business. Start by rethinking your game plan. Today’s clients and projects require a new approach to how you are managing and marketing your business.
All the indicators I’m seeing tell me it’s time for radical changes to the business of design. According to recent consumer surveys, lots of homeowners are planning to undertake remodeling projects this year, but they are likely to be smaller projects, even for kitchen and bath remodels. The luxury market is heating up, but competition for those larger projects is fiercer. There’s not much happening in the middle right now. You need to make some decisions about the type of business you want and focus your efforts on going after it.
I’ve noticed an increase in the number of small firms consolidating to compete for larger projects, instead of trying to pull together teams with other partners or outsourced services. By combining their talents, they can offer a more robust menu of services, meet demanding project deadlines, and reduce expenses and overhead costs to maintain profitability, even with tight budgets. Depending on where you’re located and the type of client you want to attract, consolidation may be an option you want to explore.
Now is the time to reconnect with former clients and expand your list of prospects. Don’t depend on your website, Face book page or listing in online designer directories to bring you new business. We’ve passed through the service economy to the experience economy. Customers today want and expect personalized and customized service. Social media may get you noticed, but it takes one-on-one marketing to land and keep a client. Spend less time tweeting and posting and more time networking and meeting to face-to-face with clients. Personal service sells.