I had to terminate a trades person this past week mid project. The first time in over 12 years of doing business.
No trades person or interior design project is ever 100% perfect, but there is a standard by which we handle projects, and the trades people we choose to work with are well aware of what that is.
We choose trades people to build our A-team, and for the most part, we have ones that we have worked with for years. They are good, they do quality work, they communicate well, they are problem-solvers, and they love working with us and our clients.
The minute I observe that something isn't happening to the standard we expect, I immediately call a meeting with the trades person or their superior to discuss the matter. In the past, minor issues are resolved immediately, and things get right back on track. But in this instance, I made a decision to safe-guard my clients from work less than the quality they should expect.
What Does Advocating For Our Clients Mean?
When a client hires Casa Vilora Interiors, we take that role very seriously. Our promise and commitment is that our clients never have to lift a finger when they hire us for a full service project. We guide them through the initial phase which involves making decisions on the design and furnishings. We then take full control of managing and executing every detail of the project; and there are many! Our 11 step design process ensures that things stay on track
There is a lot that happens behind the scenes. A lot of work and lots of tiny details that have to come together to make a beautiful result. As much as we strive for perfection for the finished project to look beautiful and function well for our clients, the process itself is not perfect. Trades people mess up, items arrive damaged, backorders are an issue, items are discontinued, freight is delayed, production takes longer than usual. It could be for any reason a project could potentially be derailed, but we are skilled problem-solvers and know how to handle these issues and still maintain professionalism and little to no impact to our clients.
Our clients are busy people and have no time nor the the resources to handle these issues. That is why we are committed to making sure they don't have to. When a trades person decides to go left when he/she should be going right, we jump into action immediately. That is what our clients pay us for, and that is how we bring value. You want a skilled team like ours to manage your project. A good designer is worth her weight in gold. We advocate for you so there is no stress during the process.
We believe in this philosophy so much that we don't even want our trades people to engage in design related conversations with our clients, unless we are present, or there were some previous arrangements or discussions. We are the frontline for our projects and we keep everyone on the same page by filtering all communications through us.
Our clients should never have to try to figure anything out. This is why we document what each trades person's scope of work is; conduct pre-start meetings; make daily phone calls to check in; and conduct onsite visits regularly.
Our trades people are not employees of our firm, and we cannot be held responsible for the quality of their work, but that does not mean that we do not vet them carefully.
If you have never worked with an interior designer before, you may wonder just why they charge what they do, or exactly what they do for their clients. In fact, designers make it look so easy that some homeowners think they can do it themselves. I wrote a blog post about it HERE that I encourage you to read to get some insight on just what you are paying for when you hire an interior designer
Most clients can see the before of their project and the beautiful after, but they have no idea what happens in between. Most designers don't make it a habit to tell their clients the details of the things that could go wrong with the project. But believe me when I tell you that your designer is working hard trying to do a good job for you. They want nothing more than for you to be pleased with the outcome.
Your designer is probably spending hours on your project that she/he is not billing for. She/he is probably up at night thinking through your project. She/he may be dealing with some difficult trades people, vendors who have dropped the ball, products that are taking forever to arrive, freight companies that take forever to deliver merchandise, and on and on it goes. This is a routine week for a designer. We manage several people, several projects and several elements of each project - from the design phase to sourcing to project management to execution and styling, and not to forget the budget management and accounting part that we all love. Haha.
You will also find that some designers who order and manage products on behalf of their clients are passing along their trade discounts entirely to their clients. They do so to be competitive or to meet a client's budget - which is often less than it really should be. These designers would rather take a loss and expose themselves to risks, in order for their clients to have the things that they envision for them. Although their heart is in the right place, that is bad for business and not very sustainable. As an interior design business mentor, I speak to several designers daily, and this is very common practice.
It goes to show how personally vested we are in the successful outcome of your project, and how designers really do have their clients' best interest at heart, even to the detriment of their own business growth.
I often encourage the young designers I mentor to be client-centric and serve their clients with honesty and integrity. But I also encourage them to be honest to themselves about what they need to earn to sustain their businesses and their sanity. They will ultimately be better designers when they themselves are successful. They can be better advocates for their clients and be confident and enthusiastic to stand up for them when their work is valued.
If you can imagine for a moment the amount of time a designer saves their clients, the amount of money and the amount of resources that a client didn't have to research on their own, it becomes clearer just how valuable having a great designer is to the successful outcome of a design project
Interior design is a fun process, despite all the things I mentioned that could go wrong. As advocates for our clients, we only want them to experience the fun side. We want them to see their vision take shape and ultimately walk into a finished space that is beyond what they could ever dream up.
I am actually here at High Point Spring Market in North Carolina as I am writing this. I am here because I take pleasure in learning more about the products I introduce to my clients. I want to experience them first to feel confident that they will work for my clients. I want to immerse myself in all things design to get inspired to create unique and fresh interiors. I want to see the latest and best in technology to help enhance my clients' lifestyles. I want to continue to educate myself in the business aspects to continue to be successful and serve my clients with enthusiasm.
These are all the ways we advocate for our clients, because interior design is not the 30 minute segment shown on reality TV. It is our clients' realities, and we want you to enjoy it
If you are looking for a designer who will be "all in" with your next design project, book a session and let's talk
Wishing You Beauty And Inspiration!