Join us Tuesday, June 22 at 2 p.m. Eastern as we talk with Melissa Galt and a panel of designers about how identifying their ideal clients has helped grow their businesses.
Interior design business growth is not a “snap your fingers and it’s quick” path. However, the processes, systems and mindset shifts I coach my clients into have extraordinary results in just three to six months. We start with the foundation of your ideal client, whether you’ve been in business three years or 20 years. The more in-depth you create that profile, the simpler it becomes to precisely know your ideal clients’ pain points, priorities, dreams, desires, where to find them and how to connect.
The case studies here represent results from three months to two years; what we build together keeps delivering more profit, better clients and time for the best of your life. A successful design business is one that informs and inspires, fuels and feeds, and serves and supports the whole of your life. It does not swallow you whole nor does it require you to sacrifice your life to your business.
Identifying Your Ideal Client Gives You the Intel to Build the Right Team
When Heather Ball, Principal Designer and Founder of Heather Ball Interiors, joined my group coaching program, “Ignite Your Success,” our first goal was to get clarity on ideal clients for each participant. When Heather clearly identified her ideal client, it was exciting how fast they showed up with dream projects.
She still wanted to serve her smaller clients so she leveraged team building. Heather put the right talent in place to handle smaller projects, while she takes the lead on her ideal client projects. She’s increased her rates, updated her letter of agreement, and refined business processes to maximize productivity. She’ll continue to do so as she grows.
Heather understands clearly, from reading my book, Marketing Luxury Design: Attracting Affluent Clients, that often your ideal clients are much closer than you realize. You can meet them by designing your lifestyle in a way that puts you in their path. In Heather’s case, she’s met clients both at the ball field on Saturday watching her kids play sports and in the very hotel she stayed at with her husband while vacationing in Hawaii.
When you have the clarity around your ideal client, you fine tune yourself to become magnetic and open to opportunity. What you think about expands, what you focus on comes into view. Heather has mastered being magnetic and irresistible to her ideal clients.
Heather Ball Interiors is a residential and commercial design practice based in Long Beach, CA. Heather is also a Professor of Interior Design at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, CA.
Identifying Your Ideal Client Means You Only Work with Best Fits and Let the Rest Go
Designer Christa Pirl, of her eponymous design firm, was already working with a couple of top builders when we started coaching. Job number one was to double her rates and reduce her workload by refocusing her lens only on ideal clients and saying a polite “no” to others. Raising her rates was simpler than she had imagined; we’ve done it twice already. Turning down business was more challenging.
Designers, by nature, are people pleasers and there is a process to saying “no” to poor-fit clients with ease. Provide a list of alternative designers without recommendation so you are not responsible to the client who is not a fit. If you are not comfortable saying you are not a fit, you can simply say that you are not taking on new projects right now.
It is also vital to build a team to take all those tasks you do not enjoy and aren’t in your Zone of Genius off your plate. Christa is doing that and expanding her capability to take on more of her ideal projects and clients.
It is vital to protect your practice (and your profits) from poor fit clients. Remember, the poor fit for you is someone else’s perfect fit! When you want to double, triple and more your design fees per project, and your profits annually, you do not have time for projects that are limited and require a lot of hand holding and distraction.
Christa Pirl Interiors is a residential design firm specializing in working with top Park City, UT, builders to deliver turnkey custom and semi-custom homes.
Identifying Your Ideal Client Means You Earn More in Less Time with Less Stress
When designer Erin Haskell Gourde attended my Go Beyond Intensive Retreat, she was juggling as many as 35 projects and working 100-hour weeks. It was entirely unsustainable and, as with many designers, she struggled to say “no” to poor-fit clients. Gaining clarity on her ideal client empowered Erin to refocus on best-fit clients and larger projects. She now works exclusively with clients she loves and has scaled back her hours significantly while earning more from each project.
She is working less while earning more, all in less time with less stress. Erin is building a rock star team to support her business and even opened a design showroom during the pandemic. She’s now been able to grow with perfect-fit projects beyond her local region which was one of her big goals.
Design for the PPL is Erin’s residential and commercial firm based in Spokane, WA, with projects in Scottsdale and Los Angeles as well. She opened a design gallery at the start of 2021 to surprise and delight her ideal clients.
Identifying Your Ideal Client Means You Stand Head and Shoulders Above the Competition
Designer Deanne Bridenstine has a thriving design practice in Canton, OH. When we began coaching, the challenge we uncovered was that it was based on serving everyone instead of focused on her favorite clients, the renovations, remodels and design-build projects.
There was no Design Discovery System in place and that was the first process installed. She saw a nearly immediate increase in the quality of clients and size of projects. And the system was doing the job of keeping the poor fits out.
This shift has led her to the goal of restructuring to serve two specific markets, a mid-range clientele with a team that can take care of room-by-room design, while Deanne focuses on her favorites.
She is now the true Chief Visionary and Creative Director in her business and invests her time and talent in connecting with ideal clients and referral partners for same. She is lead on those projects which are juicier, often whole house or multiple rooms with greater client investments.
She has strategically preserved her firm’s reputation for excellence and is expanding that into the renovation and design build market that she enjoys the most. Her firm, Pure Design Interiors, is based in Canton, OH. She also serves as a Design Coach & Consultant for Tailored Living.
Melissa Galt is an Interior Design Business Coach and author of Marketing Luxury Design: Attracting Affluent Clients. Learn more at melissagalt.com