Why Interior Designers Need Systems and Processes

Systems and processes can make or break an interior design firm.

You want to deliver an exceptional experience for your clients, right? So, what has to happen on the back end to make it happen? Systems and processes. You need to craft standard operating procedures. When you’re familiar with your foundational processes, you’ll make informed decisions for the rest of your company. This is why interior designers NEED systems and processes.

You’ll be able to walk your client through your process (including how long the project will take). When you have standardized systems and processes in place so that you can do this, it will help you build relationships and trust with your clients.

Katie McFarlan is the owner of Dakota Design Company, where she helps her clients refine, streamline, and simplify business processes and systems so they can grow in a sustainable way. She shares how she builds systems and processes in this episode of Wingnut Social!

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of Wingnut Social

  • [1:12] Housekeeping: Wingnut Webinar!
  • [1:58] Mini News Sesh: Instagram’s pinned comments
  • [4:35] Katie McFarlan and Dakota Design Co.
  • [6:21] Why you need systems and processes
  • [7:59] The depth and scope of systems and processes
  • [10:33] How to develop systems and processes
  • [16:02] What happens when you break your rules
  • [19:03] Here’s where you should get started
  • [22:58] Why SOPs are important for solopreneurs, too
  • [25:39] The importance of project management software
  • [30:31] Scale your business with software—or a team
  • [32:00] The What Up Wingnut Round!
  • [36:24] Blooper Reel!

Connect with Katie McFarlan

Resources & People Mentioned

The depth and scope of systems and processes

Why do interior designers need systems and processes?

Creativity and design are part of the process—but a small part of what a business owner has to do every day. So Katie talks about the client-facing steps of the process as well as the back-end side of what happens in each phase (for the designer, designer’s team, and clients).

Systems and processes can help you scale your business properly. Once you document your processes, you can identify opportunities to make each phase of your process better. You can see where you need to be more efficient, where you can delegate, and more.

Here’s where you should get started

Katie believes that developing systems and processes comes down to how you work and what services you deliver. You can structure services a million different ways but it HAS to work for you.

Once you choose a structure for your services, then focus on industry best practices for screening leads, onboarding clients, and delivering results (design discovery, how you design, presentations, etc.).

If you’re spinning your wheels and getting overwhelmed, write everything down:

  • What does your inquiry phase look like? What happens step-by-step? Do you send an email? Do they book a call?
  • What is your onboarding process? What do you do for a new client? What do you need from them? What can they expect from you? How long does this phase take?
  • What does the design phase look like? How do you go from concept to final design? Do you offer order management? Project management? Construction management?
  • How do you install? What is the offboarding process? Do you ask them for a review?

Every designer and what they offer is different. But the way you deliver services can fall into these categories. Writing everything out helps you map out the process and how long it will take so you can inform your clients.

After you map out your phases, look at where there’s confusion, pushback, and overwhelm. Identify where the challenges are. That’s where something needs to change.

Katie believes that every designer needs project management software. Tune in to this episode to hear what she recommends to keep your business on track!

Connect With Darla & Wingnut Social

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