Should You Shop with Your Clients?

Procurement has always been both a great thing for interior designers... and the bane of our existence. It's even worse now with supply delays, shipping issues, and impossible-to-find products. So, of course, it's again raised the question about whether or not designers should shop with their clients. No one answer fits all situations, but here are some things to consider before you decide to schedule a shopping trip.

1. How Is Your Procurement Model Going?

I can pretty much guarantee that I know the answer to that! HA! It's not going. And maybe it's time to consider switching your model if you make most of your money by selling product. If you only get paid once items are delivered, your cash flow is probably not in good shape. I've talked before about how you should be paid for your expertise and delivery rather than as a furniture salesperson. So maybe now is time to examine your fee structure. You could save yourself a lot of trouble if you can shift some of your income to more consulting and less markup on furniture. I know that can be scary, but if there was ever a time to rethink how you do business, this is the time.

2. There's Shopping and Then There's Shopping

So when we talk about shopping with clients, we need to clarify what we mean. There are so many ways to do this...You could take your client to design centers where you're still ordering and marking up product, to get a clearer idea of what your client wants- and your client gets to experience the buzz of shopping. Or, you could take your client to antique stores or shows to find those super-special pieces that you can't find anywhere else. Most designers have probably done one or both of those. Or, you could just take the plunge and do all of your shopping for the project, online or in stores, with your clients. Many stores offer discounts to designers who bring their clients in to shop. And there have been designers, even at the luxury level, who've found huge success with that model. 

3. Remove the Headaches

One big bonus to retail shopping with your clients is that you remove a lot of headaches, like shipping delays, freight charges, damages, and returns. And if procurement is the hardest part of your job, then this is a great way to reduce or eliminate the headache. But you also need to think about how you will install the products, what you'll do when a client wants you to solve a shipping problem, and how or if there will be a "big reveal" at the end of the project. 

4. Customize It

The point is that you can make your business model whatever YOU want and need it to be! This is a time of major upheaval and change in the design world. It's time to rewrite the rules of what you want your design business to be. What are your clients asking for? How do you want to do business? Any of the models of shopping with your clients could work - it's just a matter of setting your rules. 

As you think about how to rework and redesign your business model, my Return on Interiors system gives you the tools, processes, templates, and training you need to get back on the path for a more efficient and effective company! Just click here to learn more! 



Check out more design business tips and tricks

4 Tips for Attracting (and Keeping!) Great Clients

Why Customer Service Is More Important Than Ever

Wrapping It Up: The Final Touches

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