The Hollywood Approach to Running Your Design Firm

Decorating is Entertainment- A New Way to Look at Your Decorating and Design Business

What do consumer's expect during a purchase? Usually not very much. They used to making sacrifices in their satisfaction in exchange for a service or product. What an opportunity! The old saying "exceed your client's expectations" couldn't be any more accurate. It is as simple as that. What is not simple is how to do it. How do we thrill our clients every time? The business of decorating provides a thrill a minute, however, both good and bad. You need to know how to harness this innate power of our business and turn it into gold.

How do we excite and please our clients? This is an emotional game, and emotions are evoked during the interaction with our clients, and they become evident as expectations. Our target market are those people that love to decorate.. They love the showing off their homes to their family and friends. When they invite people to their home, they immediately give them a tour, this is their entertainment.

What a wonderful position to be in! How do we provide the experience, so our clients can entertain her friends? To do this we need to look at our business as "theater". Everything we do needs to give the perception to our clients that they are buying an experience and not a collection of products. Every aspect of communication, expectations, appearance, sensory images, need to focus on this one outcome.

Face it, do our clients really need to buy anything more? Do they not have all they need? Our clients do not want to buy more things, they want entertainment, and they will pay a premium for it.

In the six scenes below I have named each category of business with a theater analogy. It is very interesting to see how the life on the stage can be inspiration to our business life in the world of decorating.

Scene One
(The Entrepreneur)
The Producer

As "The Producer", we must make sure that all aspects of the business, from the letterhead to the client fulfillment systems all say "theater". Nothing is left to chance. In a stage performance, it is a huge blunder if a stage hand is seen.

We should build our company around encouraging emotions, just like the entertainment industry does. Emotions are what our governs our lives, yet it is incredible that most businesses ignores this. This is the time to reinvent your organization. The ultimate client experience is giving the client exactly what she wants, which is customization. What luck, we are in the custom business! We provide the best products and services to exceed our client's expectations. This must be enhanced by being sure all other aspects and communication with the consumer has the same intent.

The role of the Producer is to make visible the vision of the organization and to give the company all the tools necessary to entertain.

Scene 2
(The Manager)
The Director

The role of The Director is to interpret the vision of the Producer. This is done by directing the cast (staff). The cast need scripts (systems) to ensure a similar great experience for the audience (customers) each and every performance (sale). The cast needs to remember that work is theater and they need to remain in character during the time on stage (at work). It is the role of the Director to understand that to create a successful performance, the Company must strive to make memories not just sell goods or services. The Audience wants to be entertained.

Think about your experiences with other businesses. Remember the two check out clerks chatting across the lane while your groceries were being rung up? What about when your dentist who fails to call you in advance to advise you that he is running behind one hour. There are countless poor experiences we can relate to. It is up to you, the Director not to allow the cast to perform it's own drama.

Scene 3
(The Marketer)
The Narrator

The Narrator tells the story to the Audience. He brings awareness of the important aspects of what needs to be communicated. As the storyteller, we need to make aware to our target market that we exist. Any performance that becomes a hit, does so from great word of mouth. Word of Mouth Marketing does not happen by accident. The narrator has the ability to encourage the spreading of the word, so that the company can have a long and lucrative run.

Scene 4
(The Decorator)
The Cast

The Cast are the crucial link to success. They are the front-line providers of a great performance and long lasting memories. The script (selling system) needs constant rehearsing to improve the critics approval (more sales). The theater of improvisation is a required skill. Acting off the interaction of the audience takes a lot of practice. The audience does not want a choice of experiences, they want a great experience each and every time. In order to do this the actor (decorator) must engage the audience (client) and reach deep to give a memorable performance.

Scene 5
(The Client)
The Critic

The critic is the master of our destiny. The critic must be thrilled with our performance. During the time of the show (from the sale to the delivery) we should be staging a client surprise at every available opportunity. When every other shows in town are providing the same typical experience, it is up to you to offer a great client experience that will thrill. The Critic's expectations are emotional ones and we must tap into them. The role of pleasing the critic is not the actors alone, it requires a great crew. From the Producer, to the Director and to all the extras we need to be focused on the same outcome: Keep them coming back for more!

Scene 6
(The Bottom Line)
The "Sold Out" House
How do we charge for a great performance? Should we figure what the actual cost of the production is, in order to calculate our ticket prices, or should we base our prices on the value the audience is willing to pay?

The prices we charge should be based on the value perceived. Companies that entertain increase the price of their offerings much faster than the companies that do not meet their clients expectations. You should charge for the value you add, not the costs you incur. A company with a price advantage can always be undercut, a company with a performance advantage can always be out performed, but when everything is equal, you need to make things unequal. The way to do this is to focus on the value given. You must base the prices you charge on the value you create.

To do this you must make sure all aspects of your presentation justifies your margins. You will need to make it clear that the prices you charge are well worth it, and your clients will be thrilled to pay you. When you price with the consideration on perceived value, you focus on the results, not the process in pricing. Everyone in the production must be committed to staging this concept, so that nothing that the audience (the client) sees will sacrifice the margins.

Of course our style of entertaining is not done in a theater. We instead sell "lifestyle entertainment". We are providing a service to improve our client's expectations of their own lives. We make their homes beautiful and this brings a high level of satisfaction. Every aspect of bringing awareness to our company, to selling and providing client fulfillment is about exceeding expectations and entertaining.

By Neil P Gordon
Photography by Dana Rothstein

Neil Gordon, The Designer's Coach is a coach and consultant for Interior Designers. His website, offers seminars, articles, newsletters as well as valuable advise for designers willing to improve their business. Please visit the site to sign up for the free newsletter


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