9.5 ways interior designers make more money (profit)

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Following on from my last article I’m continuing the trend of unusually numbered lists. So, today’s list is: “Nine and a half ways for interior designers to make more money.” The list is at the end of the article so you can skip the next few paragraphs if you want but the list is not a summary of what I am writing about so you will miss some pearls of wisdom by so doing!!

Isn’t profit a terrible word for some people? They’re almost ashamed to use it. In some design companies staff are angered about large profits. Well its profits that pay your wages, even if you work in the voluntary sector your funding comes from someone else’s profits and even if you work for government your salary comes from taxes which in turn come from profits. So now we’ve got the socialist utopianism off our chests let’s talk money.

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Here it is in simple terms: “You have to sell more and spend less” and you might want to make your profits more certain by “reducing risk”. However you dress it up that, pretty much, is business. Customer service is important but it is just a way of cross-selling more products and increasing customer retention. Fun is nice, but you rarely get paid for having fun.

So moving into a little more detail but still keeping it at quite a high level.

For starters, you know your business better than I do. But I’ll bet it follows the Pareto Rule – that’s the one that very many businesses follow regardless of the industry they are in. It’s not really a ‘rule’ but it essentially says that 80% of your ‘stuff’ or outputs usually comes from 20% of inputs. So 80% of your sales will probably come from 20% of your customers, 80% of your overall costs will probably come from 20% of your cost items and 80% of your business risk from 20% of your activities and so on. Use this ‘rule’ to focus your activities when you try to improve your design business.

So, with that at the front of our minds, we go on for some ‘quick wins’. Focus on the big ones, the easy ones, if you like.

A. Sales: Cherish, nurture and retain your biggest customers, they need great levels of service and must not be taken for granted. BUT event the richest client will run out of houses for you to work on after a while…you have to have an additional strategy in place for bringing on the new large customers of the future. These will be the ones that drive the profitability of your business tomorrow. You should be able to analyse your customers/prospects by their size in terms of profitability to you and their growth potential as a client. Ideally, you need a nice balanced mix o present day ‘cash cows’ and future ‘rising stars’ for you to class your business as healthy. Next make sure you organise your sales resources to squeeze all revenues from and make profit on those mature accounts; allocate proportionately more sales and service on the growth accounts and maybe on those small, futureless accounts you just say thank-you, goodbye and re-direct the time you have freed up. If your mix of customers is not well-balanced then you have highlighted a risk to your business. Make a plan to change and innovate.

B. Costs. Your building and staff are probably your biggest costs. Maybe also transport, utilities and some marketing expenses like exhibitions. Reducing costs is tricky, made more tricky if you are a nice person who doesn’t put the business first. Your building lease has a fixed term so you probably can’t renege on that too easily and save money and even if you could there would be the costs and disruption associated with moving, your business landlord will also know that and will of course try to make rents higher at renewal. That’s your first dilemma.

More tricky still are your staff costs. It’s always best to lead by example and set expectations of high levels of delivery from everyone in your organisation. People need to be more productive whilst being creative. If your business is growing set the expectation of harder work rather than hiring new recruits. New recruits: increase overheads; require management, require training-u; and are a risk of being an unknown quantity. If your business is stable or declining take a realistic look at where you are at today and then you might try outsourcing and sub contracting as a means of reducing headcount and overheads, it could make your business more straightforward to run and more agile in its response to opportunity. Sometimes you have to let people go, yes even the people you like who don’t contribute as much as those you like less. It can be a hard world sometimes but harder for you if your business goes under.

C. Risks. Few people in the design industry systematically review risks. Take a ‘risk register’ of what you think the major risks to your business are. Clients or suppliers going bankrupt? Key sales people leaving? Web site being hacked? Losing your prospect database? Specific fixed price projects? and so on. Most risks have two general elements 1. the likelihood of them happening and 2. the impact of them if they do happen. So an asteroid falling on your office is catastrophic…but unlikely. I would focus firstly on the most likely ones and work out what you might do if that risk materializes. Review your risk register, say on a quarterly basis. ,You will probably not catch-all the risks but you will at least have the right mindset for methodically thinking of risks and you will probably also identify a few of the big ones that you knew existed but didn’t really want to deal with yet.

OK here’s the list, I could go on but I knew you were getting impatient:

1. Outsource: Outsource anything that is not core to your design business: accounting, IT, admin, some marketing but probably not sales.

2. Automate: Automate everything that you don’t outsource from voicemail, to invoice production, to invoice chasing, to order fulfillment, to customer service, to sales, to marketing campaigns.

3. Subcontract: subcontract key design resources where you have to: make a key resource freelance if mutually beneficial. You could try partnering as a means of getting access to certain resources but partnerships, in my experience, confusingly, always seem to end up being a one way road.

4. Negotiate realistically with suppliers. Your biggest and least risky savings will come from your biggest, longterm suppliers rather than by trying to eek out every last cent/penny from new, small suppliers (who will dump you as soon as a better customer comes along). But you will only benefit is there is a win-win. We are fabric suppliers. If you ask us for a discount on your first purchase from us you won’t get one! The best way, in general, for suppliers and purchasers to both win is if you negotiate an annual rebate deal based on certain levels of business. I will then know that, as your supplier, you are bonded in some way to me for 12 months. I know I’m going to get repeat business so what will I do? Probably give you even better service. The deal you negotiated will save you money but make me money overall as well because I get more sales from you than I otherwise would have done. Win-win. This is much better than individual deal-based discounts and many companies in our industry to not discount on a piecemeal basis in any case.

5. Increase productivity. Expect everyone in your organisation to increase their productivity by 50%. Yes really, do that. It would be nice to be disappointed if they only deliver 40% wouldn’t it? Your part of the deal is to give them the resources they need without the stress they do not need.

6. Add-on sales. What extra services can you provide around your core offering? If you just do design, offer a product selection or procurement service as well, or at least get an introduction fee from a partner who you recommend to do the bits you cannot.

7. Great employees. Keep the best, lose the rest. You know it makes sense. It’s a hirer’s market at the moment but never go too far.

8. Continually or quarterly re-visit how you deliver. Re-design how each of your internal processes work (ie how you work on a job) to minimise variable costs or maximise customer service – whichever is best for each process. In general the parts of your activity that the client sees should be structured to provide good customer service, for the bits they do not see, it is not so important: so cut the costs there if possible.

9. Innovate. Try something new and don’t be afraid to fail once in a while. Most top athletes in most competitive sports lose A LOT but they don’t shy away from the opportunity of trying again to win and neither should you. I’ll bet Usain Bolt lost a lot when he was younger.

9.5 Relax; have coffee, a spa day, a late start once in a while.

Similar articles are linked <here>.

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Press Release | Interiors | Fabrics | KOTHEA | Aug2009

KOTHEA Release New Fabric For Interiors

LONDON, England. 03-AUGUST-2009 11.30 AM: KOTHEA today announced it has expanded its extensive curtain fabric collection by the addition of KOOMEGA DUPION. KOOMEGA DUPION is a highly unusual contract fabric – on the face of it a superb silk for contract curtain usage with washability and both daylight colour fastness and UV resistance. Yet these are not characteristics not usually associated with silk. 28 colours make it a steadfast choice with more than enough colour options for every scheme. The beautiful fabric looks the part of the finest silk, yet it is a silk alternative, attractively priced for high volume contracts and desirable for domestic usages where silk is required in high-light conditions.

KOOMEGADUPION

Reference: 20-001-452

Colour Shown: Pink

Other colourways: 28

Width: 158cm

Repeat: none

Composition: 100% Polyester

Martindale: na

Primary Usage: Curtains, contract & domestic.

Type of fabric: Silk alternative

About KOTHEA.

KOTHEA are a top-market fabric house based in London serving customers throughout all of Europe and The Middle East. Founded in 1999 they have since continued to develop and sell an extensive range of timeless fabrics to the top architects, interior- and yacht-designers for projects ranging from mega-yachts to boutique hotels and from luxury spas to penthouses.

KOTHEA operate on a trade-only basis and their fabrics are available to the public through interior designers and specialist interior design shops such as Gotham, Interiors Bis and Fiona Campbell. KOTHEA also supply beautiful hand-woven linen fabrics and finished goods – throws and table linen.

KOTHEA’s trade customers would perceive their signature fabrics to include several ranges of velvet including the exclusive ‘cashmere silk velvet’, silks, linens, double-width sheers, faux leather and interesting weaves for upholstery often with high Martindale ‘rub tests’ making them highly suited to both contract and residential projects.

Founder and Executive Director, Lisa Parsons started KOTHEA more than 10 years ago after 11 highly successful years with Nobilis Fontan in Chelsea and Donghia in Chelsea Harbour. She says, “At KOTHEA we like to think we bring something a little different to the market. Our difference will be reflected in our customers’ eyes by unusual fabrics that complement our core fabric ranges; all augmented by our excellent levels of customers service, market knowledge and attention to detail.”

# # #

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Use this page as a directory of the UK’s leading fabric suppliers.

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Zoffany 08708 300 350

Many of these fabric companies sell a wide range of products including: chenille, contract fabric, faux / fake leather, mohair velvet, linen velvet, cotton velvet, wool,  hand woven products, natural silk, cashmere and damask for upholstery, curtains and cushions.

Quirky, New Textured Weave Fabric For Contract & Domestic

KOTHEA Release New Fabric For Interiors

LONDON, England. 06-JULY-2009 11.30 AM: KOTHEA today announced it has expanded its extensive upholstery fabric collection by the addition of KOCAFELATTE. KOCAFELATTE is a somewhat quirky and hard wearing fabric with an unusual, fine patterned design. It is a striking fabric with a high Martindale result, achieved whilst maintaining the highest levels of exclusive design. It is well suited for a range of uses but targeted towards upholstery and cushions in either domestic or contract installations.

KOCAFELATTE
Reference: 02-002-415

Colour Shown: Champagne

Other colourways: 3

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Type of fabric: Textured Weave

About KOTHEA.

KOTHEA are a top-market fabric house based in London serving customers throughout all of Europe and The Middle East. Founded in 1999 they have since continued to develop and sell an extensive range of timeless fabrics to the top architects, interior- and yacht-designers for projects ranging from mega-yachts to boutique hotels and from luxury spas to penthouses.

KOTHEA operate on a trade-only basis and their fabrics are available to the public through interior designers and specialist interior design shops such as Gotham, Interiors Bis and Fiona Campbell. KOTHEA also supply beautiful hand-woven linen fabrics and finished goods – throws and table linen.

KOTHEA’s trade customers would perceive their signature fabrics to include several ranges of velvet including the exclusive ‘cashmere silk velvet’, silks, linens, double-width sheers, faux leather and interesting weaves for upholstery often with high Martindale ‘rub tests’ making them highly suited to both contract and residential projects.

Founder and Executive Director, Lisa Parsons started KOTHEA more than 10 years ago after 11 highly successful years with Nobilis Fontan in Chelsea and Donghia in Chelsea Harbour. She says, “At KOTHEA we like to think we bring something a little different to the market. Our difference will be reflected in our customers’ eyes by unusual fabrics that complement our core fabric ranges; all augmented by our excellent levels of customers service, market knowledge and attention to detail.”

# # #

For Further Information

Please visit the company web site at https://www.kothea.com

Trademarks

KOTHEA is a registered trade mark of KOTHEA Limited. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Martindale vs Wyzenbeek – Rub Test By Abrasion Explained

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-LzT0dsPap4&w=200&rel=0]

Both Wyzenbeek and Martindale are abrasion or rub tests. They are however different tests which test different properties and success in one test does not infer success in the other. Wyzenbeek involves rubbing along the warp and weft of the fabric whereas Martindale is a figure-8 rub. The video clip shows a testing machine in action…not very exciting stuff. This article continues and gives summary information to assist Interior Designers to specify the right levels of abrasion resistance – usually for upholstery.

In more detail then:

For Heavy Duty Usage you should specify:
30,000 double rubs Wyzenbeek method; or

40,000 cycles Martindale method.

End use examples of heavy-duty installations, where upholstery fabrics rated at 30,000 double rubs, should be appropriate are: single shift corporate, hotel rooms/suites; conference rooms; and dining area usage.

There are extreme wear situations that may require higher levels of abrasion resistance. End use examples that may require higher than 30,000 double rubs include: 24 hours transportation terminals, 24 hour telemarketing, 24 hour healthcare emergency rooms, 24 hour casino gambling areas, and such public gathering places as theatres, stadiums, lecture halls and fast food restaurants.

It is strongly suggested that double rubs exceeding 100,000 are not meaningful in providing additional value in use. Higher abrasion resistance does not necessarily indicate a significant extension of the service life of the fabric.

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Click To Read More Interior Design Articles

The Wyzenbeek and Martindale tests are the two methods commonly used to predict wear-ability. Actual performance is determined by many factors such as fiber content, weaves, finishes, furniture design, maintenance, cleaning, and usage. Durability of an upholstery fabric is a complex interaction (combination) of a number of performance tests that, in addition to abrasion, includes seam slippage, piling, tensile strength, and usage.

There is no correlation between the Wyzenbeek and Martindale tests so it is not possible to estimate the number of cycles that would be achieved on one test if the results from the other test were known.

TEST METHODS
A Wyzenbeek machine is used for this test allowing sample of the test fabric to be pulled tight in a frame and held stationary. Individual test specimens cut from the warp and weft direction are then rubbed back and forth using an approved fabric as the abradant. The number of double rub cycles achieved before two yarn breaks occur or noticeable wear is observed is recorded as the fabric’s abrasion rating.

Martindale
This is an oscillating test. Fabric samples are mounted flat and rubbed in a figure eight like motion using a piece of worsted wool cloth as the abradant. The number of cycles that the fabric can endure before fabric shows objectionable change in appearance (yarn breaks, piling, holes) is counted. Number of cycles determines abrasion rating.

Inferring one result from another:

Despite what you will read on other web sites including the sites of some of the best known fabric houses in the world you simply cannot infer a Wyzenbeek score from a Martindale score or vice versa. However as said earlier for Heavy Duty usage you might specify: 30,000 double rubs Wyzenbeek method OR 40,000 cycles Martindale method. So in that sense you can say that for a certain level of usage the Martindale result needs to be 33% higher than the Wyzenbeek. But you CANNOT say that if a fabric scores 100,000 Wyzenbeek then there is no point in undertaking a Martindale test as you “know” its result would be 133,333 – that would simply be wrong; the Martindale could be higher or lower, you have to test it.

If this post does supply you with enough information please comment below or email us and we will expand it.

For more information on luxury cashmere throws or to request cuttings please visit www.kothea.com.  For black faux leather upholstery fabrics try <here> and for mohair velvet and mohair velvet upholstery fabric please follow the links.  Upholstery Linen is also one of our specialities as are luxury  silk velvet  fabrics.

What is the martindale rub test?

Most fabrics undergo the Martindale Test to check their durability and suitability for various uses, i.e, curtains, domestic furniture, contract furniture. The test is also known as the Rub Test and it tests for abrasion. The test gives a score in 1000’s of rubs. Domestic fabrics often have a rating of up to 20,000 rubs. Generally, the higher the figure the more suitable the fabric for heavy usage. For example some KOTHEA velvets and faux leathers have scores of over 100,000 making them usable for heavy contract scenarios in hotels. KOTHEA have linen mix fabric for upholstery with a Martindale of 80,000.

You also might want to look <here> for details on the related Wyzenbeek test. Wyzenbeek is another (but different) kind of abrasion/rub test.

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Click To Read More Interior Design Articles

The technical details of the Martindale test are shown below but this information is not normally required to be known by an interior designer: All you need to know is the appropriate rub test for your installation.If you are an interior design professional and you would like more information please call us in the UK on 020 8943 4904.

A circular specimen, mounted in a specimen holder and subjected to a defined load, is rubbed against an abrasive medium (standard wool fabric) in a translational movement tracing a Lissajous figure, the specimen holder being additionally freely rotatable around its own axis perpendicular to the plane of the specimen. The normal end point of the test is when two threads are broken or in the case of pile fabrics when the pile has completely worn off. The inspection interval is dependent on the end point of the fabric and is usually every 1,000 up to 5,000 rubs, every 2,000 between 5,000 & 20,000 every 5,000 between 20,000 & 40,000 and every 10,000 above 40,000.

For more information on luxury cashmere throws or to request cuttings please visit www.kothea.com.  For black faux leather upholstery fabrics try <here> and for mohair velvet and mohair velvet upholstery fabric please follow the links.  Upholstery Linen is also one of our specialities as are luxury  silk velvet  fabrics.

Martindale Rub For Faux Leather

We were recently asked for the Martindale Rub For Faux Leather. Our particular Faux Leather (from our wider collectetion of faux furs) has a rub test result of over 100,000 making it suitable for heavy contract and domestic usage.