Does it still make sense to invest your hard-earned revenue in a design studio when online shopping has become so popular? In a word, yes.In a previous post, we shared the importance of designing a strategic business plan for your business. Here, we argue that investing in a design studio should be an integral part of that plan; a comfortable and stylish place to schedule face-to-face meetings with potential clients, as well as a beautiful space that allows you to share your vision with them.The reason for this is simple: despite the popularity of internet shopping, and your concurrent need for a quality website to showcase your talent, potential clients will want to touch and feel samples while also meeting you personally. You also get to know them better and both of you will benefit from engaging in an environment that promotes building a relationship.This is simply impossible to accomplish in the impersonal world of the internet.Brick-and-Mortar Locations Remain Valuable Client Acquisition ToolsIn a recent article at BusinessOfHome.com, editor-at-large Maury Riad makes a compelling case that traditional brick-and-mortar design centers remain important to vendors in the age of internet shopping.If that is true, then investing in a design studio also remains important to interior designers, for some of the same reasons:
- Brand building – Building your brand, a unique identity within your market, is difficult to do in an environment that is flooded with competitors from around the world (as the internet is). On the other hand, a well-designed retail location puts you right in front of clients and potential clients. Being able to see and speak with you directly will only enhance your brand as one of the few designers willing to make such an effort – and investment.
- Reputation enhancement – Like building your brand, building your reputation in a highly competitive marketplace is difficult in the extreme. In-person contact with potential clients, and being available to existing and past clients, ensures that you will be seen as a designer who is committed to customer service and satisfaction. And, since interior design is above all things a local business, enhancing your reputation locally offers massive potential for success.
- Relationship building – Building relationships is critical to your long-term success as a designer. We’ve said it before (here) and will say it again: repeat customers are more valuable than new customers since they are more likely to buy from you and are less costly to engage, offering you a far greater ROI. Your design studio is the perfect place to re-engage with them and build a lasting relationship that can lead to future work for them. It’s a win/win for both of you.
- Vendor support – Vendors love to support interior designers who feature their furnishings in their design studio. They tend to offer better pricing and larger discounts, sneak previews of new designs, priority shipping, enhanced payment terms, and even cash-back promotions that can help reduce overhead. Such vendor support can be invaluable to your business and you should take advantage of these types of relationships whenever possible.
- Community involvement – Being seen as an integral part of your community will automatically build brand recognition, enhance your reputation, and leads to great relationships and profitable networking opportunities. It is also fulfilling on both a professional and personal level. Get involved and make your mark in your community, if you hope to have long-term success.
While it may seem to make sense that the expense of maintaining a design studio in the internet age flies in the face of logic, for the reasons listed above, and more, a brick-and-mortar location makes perfect sense for the success of your design business.Looking for more tips on designing your design business, new home design trends, designer marketing tips, and product ideas? Get in touch with TD Fall today.