high end furnishings

Staffing for Retail Furnishings & Furniture Stores

While we spend a great deal of time writing for interior designers here, we also work with a large number of “to the trade” and “retail” furnishings and furniture stores. With that in mind, it might be practical to take a look at the rapidly changing staffing needs for these types of outlets.

Who are millennials and what do they want?

Millennials are the 18 to 34 year olds who are driving many of the latest trends in music, technology, film, fashion, and just about everything else. Yet, these young people are making a huge impression on the American workforce, with a larger presence than any other age group. In general, millennials view and value work and life differently than older generations have done in the past.Understanding these differences, and creating workplace policies to recruit, manage, and retain these young and idealistic people as they begin to dominate the U.S. labor force, will be critical to the long-term health of your furnishings business. For millennials, and for you, being perceived as an "employer of choice" is essential.Here are some of the fringe benefits that attract this younger, values-based group of potential employees:

  • Health Plans – These light users of medical services prefer plans that include employer's cash contributions, higher deductibles, and low monthly premiums.
  • Wellness Benefits – Free Onsite Yoga, or other fitness classes, allow millennials to stay fit and socially interact with peers. Telemedicine services are also popular with these tech-savvy young folks.
  • Parental Leave – Paid leave for new parents, BOTH new parents, and subsidized child care are a hit with young parents.
  • College Debt Relief – The average millennial carries a college loan debt of around $34,000, so help is welcome.
  • Flexible Scheduling – Combine sick leave and vacation benefits, allowing them to control their time off. The use of sabbaticals is also becoming popular.
  • Regular Feedback – Young workers appreciate frequent reviews and rewards throughout the year, rather than a typical annual review cycle.
  • Professional Development & Ongoing Training – Millennials are determined to keep their job skills up to date. Create programs that will update skills and challenge them, if you hope to keep them from jumping ship to your competitor.

It cannot be emphasized enough that millennials view themselves as values-based, ethical members of society and the work force. For them, caring for others, sustainability, and “green” thinking and action weigh heavily in their long-term plans – for work and life. Ultimately, they hope to find a balance between work and life that they believe previous generations may have lacked.Keeping these things in mind about hiring millennials will go a long way toward helping you build, and keep, a high quality workforce when staffing your retail furnishings or furniture store.

Boosting Interior Design Sales - Strategic Marketing

Say, what? Strategic marketing? What is that?This is not some fly-by-night, “guaranteed to make you rich” so-called marketing plan, but a comprehensive, effective marketing strategy that will lead you to the implementation of a plan for successfully marketing your business online. We’re talking about a fully integrated system of strategic decisions and tactical implementation; actions you can take that will build an audience, generate traffic, promote conversions, and increase both revenue and profits.

What is a Marketing Strategy?

Let’s begin by defining our terms – before you begin to think we’ve gone off on some silly tangent:“Strategic / StrategyA high level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty. It is a pattern in a stream of decisions, and is about shaping the future. A Marketing Strategy is a process that can allow an organization to concentrate its resources on the optimal opportunities with the goals of increasing sales and achieving a sustainable competitive advantage.” ~ from Wikipedia“Ok,” you say, “but what does all of that mean for me and my online marketing plan?”What it means is, if you want your internet marketing efforts to be successful, you need to make a plan to be successful. You need to develop a comprehensive approach to marketing your products or services with full participation, and a commitment to creating compelling content at your website, on the social network – using great copy, compelling images and video, and with a pro-active email campaign. All of your content in every venue will relate to the other venues, and content creation will be consistent and compelling. You will provide value for your visitors at every turn, and you will ask them to respond; with a call-to-action that will benefit both you and your prospective client.See, that’s not so much to ask for, is it?

What are the most effective Marketing Strategies?

Now we get down to the fun stuff, the real nitty-gritty of making it happen; of outlining the strategic approach to your online marketing plan. The goal here is to create a sequence of strategic initiatives to build online and offline brand awareness, presenting your products or services to the most profitable markets, by developing and building relationships through what’s known as “Cross Channel Marketing”. There are so many valuable tools and newly opened avenues available in today’s online  marketing environment, that a comprehensive marketing strategy is required to tap into all of them and make your marketing plan a success.


Here are some of the critical steps you should take to implement a comprehensive marketing strategy:

  • Create a compelling marketing website with expert blog
  • Create regular blog posts with valuable information for your readers
  • Automated push to the social network: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn
  • Mobile-friendly website and social networking
  • Article marketing to build an expert reputation
  • Monthly eNewsletter with incentivized content
  • Free eBook for lead capture and list building
  • Periodic contests and/or giveaways promoted on-site and on the social network
  • Create videos, webinars, and teleseminars
  • Offer public speaking presentations
  • Capitalize on every opportunity to generate revenue

This ain’t your typical web experience.You can no longer simply “put it out there” and “hope for the best.” For real online marketing success in the highly competitive marketplace that our contemporary web has become, a strategic approach to online marketing is a requirement for a plan to be successful. Whether you are a retail home furnishing outlet or an interior designer, a broad-based and effective strategic marketing plan is requisite in today’s online environment.

What Designers May Expect from Clients in 2016

Well, we’ve made it into another year and, if anything can be said about 2015, it was an interesting year for many in the design business. As 2016 dawns, we need to be ready for much of the same. The keys to success will be follow-through, staying on top of trends, and ensuring that your online presence is up-to-date and compelling. With these things said…Did you know that 4 of 5 people who make a New Year’s resolution give up on it within 30 days?Now, I’m sure you're not one of these people, and that you never give up on a resolution – but – the odds are that you do have potential clients who fit this profile. In fact, you may have already made a pitch to someone who said they wanted to change their living or work space in the New Year. However, if they happen to be one of the 80% who inevitably won’t follow through, your time and efforts on their behalf have been wasted.DESIGN-LIVING-TRENDS-INTERIOR-DESIGN-2016-mixing-metals-jean-louis-deniot

Resolve to Follow-through in the New Year

This is where following through, one of the keys to success mentioned above, will be critical to your ongoing success. Far too many people procrastinate on decisions, even truly important decisions. Making significant changes to the space in which they live or work is about as significant as it gets. When they do it as part of a New Year’s resolution, it becomes even more problematic; too many folks simply do not see it through.Overcoming this type of inertia can be difficult but, by being persistent, you can help them to reach a decision. Hopefully, they will decide to say, “Yes!” but, in a case like this, ANY decision is better than being neglected or forgotten. For more on this, check out this previous post, titled, Boosting Interior Design Sales - Overcoming Objections.Keeping up-to-date with the latest design trends, whether hot new products, colors, use-of-space trends or anything else that “everyone is talking about”, will also help you to help them to make a decision. If you're curious, here are a couple of articles predicting the hottest design trends we can expect for 2016:

And finally, as we’ve mentioned in other posts on the subject, your online identity and brand will have a massive impact on how potential clients perceive you, as well as their personal decision-making process. Click here to read those posts:

While it seems reasonable that the responsibility for making a decision rests with your client, you may need to take on that responsibility yourself, if you hope to overcome their New Year inertia. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by putting yourself out there again, reminding them of why they got in touch with you in the first place, and once again asking for the sale.How do you cope with clients who procrastinate after your presentation? Do you have a strategy to overcome client indecision that works for you? Would you like to share it?

Carpeting and Rugs Set the Tone for Any Room

As you work with your clients to help them reimagine a space, one of the greatest tools you have at your disposal is floor covering. From carpeting to rugs and from wood to tile, the tone of the entire room can be set by what you place beneath your client’s feet.NewRugShotFor example, while many of the homes you see will follow the recent trend of using an open floor plan, there are some who argue that room definition will be a hot trend for 2016. For clients who do not wish to have their homes rebuilt around them, choosing alternate floor coverings throughout will help to redefine each room.Further, you can offer your clients a more diverse flavor to their home by focusing on international designs in the carpeting and rugs you choose to present. The Tibetan Collection of carpeting from Kravet is a wonderful example of this type of diversity, with hand-woven designs in Tibetan wool and Indian silk that are inspired by natural surfaces, patinas and aerial views, while also being fashionable and sophisticated.Lee Jofa too offers a stunning collection of carpets from India, Thailand & Nepal, in an array of hand-knotted fiber contents and weaves, as well as a wide variety of designs and colors, that offer a lush and luscious feel, and that will add a delicious international flavor to any room. Whether silk or chenille, wool or cashmere; Tibetan or Aubusson, hand-tufted or machine-tufted; the possibilities are almost limitless.Finally, Brunschwig & Fils, proudly offers J.D. Staron carpets and rugs. These are a unique collection, crafted by the finest skilled professionals in the world, available in thousands of designs and patterns. Whether you’ve chosen to cover the floor of an entire room with carpeting, or would like to present your clients with rugs as an accent to the room, the J.D. Staron collection offers a wonderful variety of beautiful designs from which to choose.Are you struggling with ideas that will help you set the tone in a room for your client? Let us help. Click here to get in touch with us today.

Treat the Windows – Not the Window Treatments

Not all windows are created equal, so why treat them as if they are?In some homes, the windows scream out for treatment. In others however, the view, the light, and the detail of the windows themselves can provide you with unique opportunities to use light and open views creatively. For many homeowners, the view is the deciding factor in where they choose to live. In such cases, hiding behind draperies or curtains makes little sense.Instead, if a room you're working on has beautiful natural light streaming in, or if the frames and sills offer uniquely beautiful architectural detail, simply painting the trim removing rust and refinishing may be your best option.

Focus on natural light and openness

In the images below from HGTV for example, the windows are left bare to emphasize the beauty of the surroundings and the gorgeous flow of light into the spaces.iThe window frames in this kitchen have become accents rather than distractions, preserving natural light and the view for the homeowner. Covering these gorgeous portholes to the outside world would have been a shame.iiA view like the one below should never be covered. By painting the window trim, rather than covering these large picture windows, the panoramic view is preserved, allowing the homeowner to feel a part of the nature that surrounds the home.iiiOnce again, the emphasis in this room has been placed on natural light and an open feel. These steel window frames add elegance to a modern look, while also being wonderfully resilient and durable, as well as easy to care for.Have you been able to use existing windows to make a creative statement for your clients? How has that worked for you in the past? Please share your own ideas for the creative use of bare windows to provide natural light and openness for your clients in the future. Would love to hear from you!

Use Bold Colors to Make Bold Statements

Fearless and daring; clear and distinct; even excessively forward; these are all definitions of the word “Bold”. For clients who are looking for “something different”, yet have not been able to articulate that idea for you, taking a daring (and perhaps brash) approach to the use of color may be the simplest – and best – choice you can make for them.Then again, trying to be bold on a budget can also argue for the use of color to make the statement, rather than asking your client for a heavy investment in fabrics, rugs, or furniture. We all must live in the real world after all, where the client who tells us that “Money is no object,” is rare indeed. With this thought in mind, let’s take a look at using bold colors to make bold statements.In an effort to avoid clashing images, the focus here is on the use of blue, but you can of course use a variety of colors to make the statement you believe your client would like to see.As an example of the bold use of color, this image from the Interior Design Blog makes a truly bold statement in a living room yet, despite the courageous use of color here, the room remains comfortable and eminently livable. The blue wall does not overwhelm, but rather provides a somewhat audacious impression, while highlighting and blending beautifully with the variety of pieces in the room.1

Using bold colors as accents

Of course, not all clients are willing to be as bold as you may think they should be, or as they implied they could be. In that case, using bold colors to accent select features of a room may be your best course. A truly unique look, as seen in the image of the freestanding bathtub below, borrowed from the Brilliant Asylum blog, can be enhanced by the use of bold colors. The portholes in the tub are not a bad touch either.2And yet, if a statement like this is not possible for some reason, the creative and judicious use of color as background can add depth and daring to the simplest areas of a room, as shown in the bookcase of a child’s bedroom below, from HGTV.3As you can see, making a bold statement with colors does not have to lead to overpowering or outrageous looks in your client’s home. While being daring can be great fun, and some of your clients may seek that from you, it is possible to be audacious – without being impertinent or presumptuous.Did this blog post help you to be more creative in your use of colors? Have you used colors to make bold statements for your clients? How has that worked for you in the past, and how do you hope to use bold colors to make bold statements in the future?