insight : lindsey putzier + christinna o’brien
How to Collaborate Effectively with Your Workroom
An interior designer and workroom owner share the best practices they’ve developed for successful projects BY LINDSEY PUTZIER AND CHRISTINNA O’BRIEN
he designer/workroom relationship is a crucial part of your interior design business. Learning how to collaborate with your workroom not only makes both of your jobs much easier, it improves the final outcome for your clients, which, in turn, increases client satisfaction. It’s a true win-win! Over our many years in our respective businesses, we’ve found several things that work and don’t work when it comes to establishing and maintaining the designer/ workroom partnership. We’ve broken our specific tips down into three broad categories. We hope these will help you create better relationships and happier clients.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
If your workroom has window treatment design templates, use them. These templates aren’t there to complicate your life—they’re how your workroom keeps
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their orders straight. If your workroom does not have templates, make your own and share them. Write out all of the important measurements and other information you always provide the workroom in a spreadsheet or document, then save it as a template. Save as a new version every time you need to use it. Be specific about what fabric you plan to use for your window treatments. Send a photo of the fabric you’re using to the workroom with your request for an estimate. Also include the fabric repeat and fabric content, which is a vital part of your workroom’s pricing structure. Certain fabrics will not work on certain treatments. There may be an additional charge for specific fabrics if they require hand-sewing. Some fabrics also require different linings, which the workroom can recommend. If you’re unsure of whether a fabric is appropriate for a window treatment, send a sample to your workroom so they can provide their feedback.
If you make changes to your designs, communicate those changes in writing via email. Do not text change requests. Remember how irritating it is when your clients send 200 texts? It’s just as irritating for your workroom. Invest in a window treatment rendering program or learn how to hand-sketch your designs for your workroom. You may have a vision in your head of where you want those pleats in a contrast pleat valance to go, but your workroom can’t read your mind. A visual can really clear up any ambiguity in your design. Ask your workroom for a timeline, then double it for your clients. Most workrooms are small operations, just like your interior design business. When you get sick, things get delayed. If your computer breaks, you can’t send out orders. It’s no different for a small workroom. Always under-promise and over-deliver, and your clients will be thrilled.
Photo courtesy of Libeco