For any entrepreneur, finding ways to improve your business is a full-time job. Now more than ever, business owners need to re-evaluate and re-strategise to stay one step ahead of their competition. Add to that the unprecedented economic times that we’re all facing in the form of the COVID pandemic, and a picture of knuckling down to stay ahead quickly emerges. We know you’re busy so we’ve put together a few tips to ensure that your business continues to grow during these challenging times:
Keep it Real
Although it is essential to stay confident, be careful not to oversell. In the challenging times that we are facing, people value authenticity and sincerity. Everyone is experiencing the impacts of the pandemic, being open about your struggles amid this crisis will help clients sympathise with your situation. It is very likely that your current clients, who may not be able to afford your services given their current situation, could recommend you to their friends and family.
Don’t be afraid to call up old clients to see if they need assistance with their interiors. Oftentimes, they may not be in a position to enter into a full project contract with you, but you could find that they have a scaled-back interior design requirement, such as a kitchen renovation or an entertainment area redesign. These projects may be smaller than what you’re accustomed to, but it does ensure a steady workflow.
Communicate with your Clients
The world has turned upside down; and just as you are feeling unsure about your future, your customers are also going through the same uncertainty. That’s why, it is best to communicate all of the latest updates and developments with them as they happen. For example, if your local government has changed the project timings, or updated any restrictions, you can notify your customers through concise emails or text messages. Moreover, you can also inform them about how you are taking the necessary precautions in light of the pandemic. Everybody wants to feel safe, so ensure your clients do as well.
Some businesses have even produced videos showing the changes they have made to their daily operations to ensure they are working in a safe environment. Communicating these project updates and precautionary measures ensures a high level of transparency in your work ethic and increases your clientele’s trust. These attributes could result in more interior design opportunities in the future.
Open your Horizons
Many new housing businesses are finding it tough to survive a crisis for the first time. On the other hand, experienced business owners learned important lessons from the recession of 2007-2009 and have developed tried-and-tested tips to help newer businesses survive.
One such tip is to diversify. This means that although you are accustomed to handling bigger projects, smaller projects will ensure you keep the lights on. Smaller projects will not only generate more income than having zero projects, but they’ll also help spread the word about your services to an untapped client market – particularly if you handle the project with the utmost professionalism.
A subdued economy always results in some industries being harder hit than others, however, there are some industries that often go relatively unaffected, and in some cases, there are actually industries that thrive due to their ability to innovate rapidly. Identify these industries that have experienced little to no disruption and create a specific services menu for these market segments. This will ensure that you are offering a tailored solution to a specific market with the probability of reaching and gaining new clients being high.
Invest in your Marketing Strategy
If you want to reach new clients, you will have to invest in your marketing strategy. Marketing is an art-form that if done correctly, can significantly boost your interior design brand. It’s a great way to solidify your brand reputation and stand shoulders apart from your competitors. Today, there are several ways you can reach prospective clients within seconds, and at a touch of a button.
Informative banners, social media, and online advertisements can be implemented to target certain client demographics. Promote your business in your geographic location or outside of it to reach a wider audience. Customers will seldom – if ever – find you on their own. They always need a little prodding in the right direction which can only be achieved through marketing.
It may seem strange to advise you to get involved with your community and/or corporate social initiatives at this stage. You don’t have the time right? Oftentimes clients prefer to do business with businesses that uphold similar values to theirs. So, consider doing good as good business – an investment that will certainly drive positive publicity and brand sentiment.
Get Tech Savvy
We live in a digital-first world. Most clients find brands and look for testimonials and services using an online channel. Ensure you and your employees are well-versed in using the latest communication tools to ensure your communication with your clients are frequent and shows them that you are keeping up with the latest technology trends. Some of the popular communication and meeting applications include Skype, Zoom, FaceTime or other video-calling apps to conduct meetings. Collaboration tools such as Slack, WhatsApp web and Asana are great at collaborating with your team to ensure everybody stays on track.
Clean up your Workflow
For a better business, you are going to need better organisation. Take the time to review your current client and operational processes and identify those areas that need improvement. See how you can enhance your projects from the order to conceptualisation, from communication to the delegation of tasks, and the project management – with all the nuts and bolts in between. Always look for ways to improve your operating systems, filing and so forth. Once these are implemented you’ll be ready to deal with your clients at your best capacity and speed.
Get to that Unfinished Business
While running an interior business in normal routine, you are faced with projects back-to-back and probably end up with a pile of minor tasks that fail to get prioritised. As interest rates drop, go get that loan and make the investment to expand. Identify and get rid of any overheads that may be dragging you down. Get pending approvals and certifications.
There can be a lot of loose ends lying around and before you can move forward, you need to address that backlog.