By Gail Doby, ASID
CVO & Co-Founder, Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting & Design Success University
There is no denying that the interior design industry has changed dramatically over the last decade. The next decade will impact the industry even more dramatically. Yes, that is a bold statement, but read on. Here are my 10 predictions about the future of interior design and how it will impact your income.
1. Few solo interior designers succeed by working alone, and they must evolve and grow (i.e., add employees or outsourcers) to survive and thrive. The shocking truth we discovered when we used to conduct our Annual Interior Design Fee & Salary Survey (we don’t do this survey now) was that the median income for interior designers was $40,000. As long as solo designers attempt to do it all to save money or maintain control, they will limit their income and their passion will wane.
2. As Baby Boomers retire and settle into their “last, best home,” future design clients primarily will be Millennials, who were born between 1980 and 2000. The Millennials will be challenging for designers that prefer more control because Millennials want to collaborate. They also want speed. Rapid customization of furnishings is expected, and rapid response time will be demanded by text or you’ll have unhappy clients. Didn’t you know that phones are only for text, mobile payments, boarding passes, and for keeping up with social media? Phone calls are rarely preferred by Millennials.
3. Your business model will need to change for Millennials that prefer to shop online. Your fees will need to compensate you for your intellectual property (design and project management skills) without product purchases. I have been preaching Value Based Fees for years, and when done properly, you can earn more money and experience less stress and headaches.
4. Social media is here to stay. However, most designers post sporadically and without a true social media strategy and communication plan. Pictures posted on Instagram, Pinterest and SnapChat can and will drive future leads for your business. You need to “art direct” your shots so they are consistent with your brand. Be sure to read my Design Bloggers Conference Post for actionable recommendations.
5. EDesign may work for larger enterprises that can outsource design work to individuals who don’t want to build their own business or to overseas designers (such as China or India). Don’t be deceived that eDesign is easier and better for you. Getting enough clients means that you need to build a huge list, market with precision and have a lot of venture capital to fund the building of the business. EDesign is a business model that rarely generates a great income for small businesses. Your list, and more importantly, your relationship with your list is a valuable asset.
6. If you’re not building a list for your business, you’re missing the boat. You need to be able to communicate with your clients, past clients and prospects. Building a list is a topic that requires much more explanation, so let me know in the comments below if you’d like to know more.
7. If you don’t have a well-conceived brand and vision, your business will not succeed in the future. Your unique point of view and philosophy must be clear, concise and well-communicated through social media, your website, and every element of your brand experience. Be sure to read my post on “10 Reasons Your Marketing Plan Is Failing.”
8. Manufacturers are struggling to maintain the traditional sales channels. Design brands can elevate manufacturers’ visibility with their social media reach. Designers are actually becoming more and more important to manufacturers who used to sell just through brick and mortar retail establishments. High Point Market and Las Vegas Market are on a mission to attract more designers because they see the future and know you’re an important part of it.
9. To-the-trade design centers will continue to struggle. And more manufacturers will consolidate or sell to foreign investors to infuse capital into their operations so they can establish their own retail showrooms in major markets. With today’s “I Want It Now” mentality, quick ship programs with some customization will be the way of the future. And, the lead times will need to be shorter and shorter.
10. You can monetize your blog. You need to think of yourself as a visual storyteller. Stories sell. Again, be sure to read my Design Bloggers Conference Post for actionable recommendations on monetizing your blog.
Let me know your thoughts about these predictions. Just post your comments below.
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