As part of its ongoing mission to help interior design professionals become more successful by providing valuable information about the state of the industry, Pearl Collective, formerly known as Gail Doby Coaching and Consulting, in conjunction with Interior Talent, a leading architectural and design recruitment firm, has revealed the results of its 2022 Interior Designer Survey on Fees, Salaries and Competing for Talent. The initial findings, compiled in an executive summary, is filled with details gathered from every region of the country and provides what design firm owners need to know to be successful in today’s market.
Pearl Collective, a highly regarded group of business experts and coaches for professional designers and firms, fielded the national survey throughout the summer of 2022, querying the full breadth of the interior design community including both small and large firms, from start-ups to long-term veterans and those earning modest revenues to those with revenue of more than $5 million. The company’s first since before the pandemic, the results of the study offer actionable insights that provide the interior design community and the designer-focused manufacturers with data-driven intelligence to shape their future business decisions.
“We are pleased to be able to share the results of this in-depth poll. It’s a compelling story, one that creates a very strategic opportunity for owners of interior design businesses,” said Erin Weir, co-founder of Pearl Collective. “Today’s firms face a myriad of issues, but now they will have a clear picture of what is driving those challenges, which is key to their future success. The insights gleaned are critical for benchmarking and offers fuel for ongoing planning.”
“As coaches and consultants, it is important for us to wrap our arms around the issues the industry is facing now that the pandemic has waned to help guide our clients through a changing landscape,” said Gail Doby, co-founder of Pearl Collective. “We took the pulse of interior design professionals, and now have the knowledge needed to decipher what’s happening and the impact it is having, which will allow us to help our clients uncover opportunities that lie ahead.”
Illustrating the breadth of participation, 57 percent of respondents said they have been in business for 11+ years, while 25 percent said they have been in business for five years or less. When asked how many employees they have, 56 percent said between one and five, followed by 28 percent who reported being sole practitioners. Firms with sales of $500,000 or less in 2021 made up 52 percent of the respondents.
When asked about current challenges, 33 percent stated that landing new ideal clients was at the top of their list, closely followed by schedule delays (30 percent). Another 23 percent sited setting fees and earning more revenue from projects.
In the hiring category, 62 percent of those polled said there is a lack of available applicants for open positions. Ranked equally as high, 62 percent of business owners also said that applicants who have applied for positions with their firm are not qualified, while 48 percent said that applicants were not a good fit for open positions and/or the firms’ culture. In addition, 42% indicted that applicants are seeking higher salary’s than what was being offered.
Regarding fees, the majority of those who participated (58 percent) said they charge hourly rates plus mark-up, while 41 percent sited a fixed fee. An average hourly rate of $150 - $200 was reported by 36 percent, with 28 percent charging $150 or less. Meanwhile, 23 percent reported charging a 35-50 percent mark-up.
While these are just some of the highlights of the report, interested individuals can register to receive the full results, which will be available in mid-November, by going to Pearl Collective’s Executive Summary site.
For those interested in learning more now, the results will be expounded upon during three seminars taking place at the High Point Fall Market. “Hiring Terrific Talent: Attracting and Keeping a Top Design Team”, presented Saturday, Oct. 22 from 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. in the Sherwin-Williams Seminar Room, SAMS-T922. A panel discussion entitled, “Salaries Revealed: The Answers to Who Gets Paid What” takes place Sunday, Oct. 23 from 10 – 11:00 a.m. at Universal Furniture’s showroom, 101, S. Hamilton St., and “Survey Says: What You Should Know about Fees, Rates and Charging for your Expertise” will pull the curtain back on how and what to charge, happening Monday, Oct. 24, 2 - 3:00 p.m. at The Point on Commerce Ave.
Interior Talent is the Pearl sponsor of the survey. Gold sponsors include Client Expander and Stemper & Associates. Media sponsors include Furniture Lighting & Décor, High Point Market Authority and The Home Trust. Referral Partners include Christina Juarez & Company, High Point x Design, Lexington Home Brands, Return on Interiors and TMM The Media Matters.