While outsourcing has been growing exponentially in many sectors in recent years, it’s fair to say that many interior design studios, even ones that are well-established, are still reluctant to try it. Interior design is a creative sector and I’m going to guess that some businesses are afraid outsourcing is synonymous with letting go of your brand and what makes your business unique. Wrong! Quite the opposite…. And I’ll tell you why in just a moment.
There are various reasons why outsourcing has been working for so many businesses! Articles like this one published by Forbes in February 2020 or this one by ‘Designed by Woulfe’ explains what outsourcing will do for your business explains what outsourcing will do for your business if done right.
I was talking to an interior design coach, Desi Creswell, on instagram last week who shared the most common pain points her clients have about working with a remote team and it hit me that a lot of designers , on instagram last week who shared the most common pain points her clients have about working with a remote team and it hit me that a lot of designers are afraid they’ll do it all wrong.
Today, I will address these pain points so that you can take control and start using outsourcing as your business’ best friend!
We will cover:
- What outsourcing WILL do for your business if done the right way
- Some of the most common stressors/ fears relating to outsourcing answered: 01 | How to get started and clarity on the process 02 | How to effectively translate information to a remote designer 03 | How to ensure that the work is done correctly
Let's jump in!
WHAT WILL OUTSOURCING DO FOR MY INTERIOR DESIGN BUSINESS?
As leaders, the tendency is to want to do it all because if we do it ourselves, it’ll look better and it might also get done faster.
To get ahead, a good leader will start delegating work to an in-house team to be able to take on more projects and to grow his business. A good leader will also understand how important it is to train his team right so that they are able to complete work as efficiently as he would.
If you’ve got a team already, or even if you work on your own (many of my clients do!), why would you decide to outsource to someone outside your organization?
Well, it is pretty simple.
By outsourcing, you may be able to add value to your team AND to your clients and here is how:
01 Save time
If you free up some of your team’s time, you can take on more projects. If you free up some of YOUR time, the business owner that you are, you can work on your business (not in your business, understand the difference), sounds simple enough, right?!
02 Save money
If you don’t have the resources to hire more full-time designers, or your workload is irregular, outsourcing to a remote team when you need them, and only when you need them, is a really good cost-saving option. It’ll save you tons on what a full-time designer will cost you; plus, you don’t need to pay them when there’s nothing to do. Oh, did I mention that you don’t need to worry about contributing to their pension scheme, or for a bigger office, desks, expensive softwares, team outings, and the list goes on.
03 Get access to a pool of experienced & qualified designers
Designers at KVM all have specific skills, which means that whatever task or programme you require, chances are that we can help you get ahead. If you had a freelancer coming in the office, his skills will be limited (nobody knows how to do it all) and there are only so many hours that he will be able to work; lastly, he may not always be available when a deadline hits. What if your next client required you to produce a set of 3D renderings for your next meeting and you have no-one doing that on your team? Outsource it, get it done by experts, and move on.
04 Focus on what makes your business unique
Your team represents your brand, your style and they are what your clients are paying you for. Chances are that they decided to work with you because they loved your previous projects and can relate to your design style. This is something that you need to keep in-house. When your team is overloaded and lacks time, it’s really hard to maintain high levels of creativity. If you free up some of their time, they’ll be able to focus better on what makes you unique.
05 Outsource the rest (or some of it)
Outsource what can be done by someone else. There are TONS of fantastic designers who will nail construction drawings, detailed drawings, 3d rendering, and so on. Let your remote team deal with it; with time, they will learn to work the way you would in the office and will eventually become a mere extension of your team, only remote. Let your designers focus on clients presentations and meetings, product specification, contractors/ subcontractors/ consultants meetings, site visits, and so on. This is where their attention should be.
06 Focus on your business
If you work alone, or with a small team, and you are still doing a lot of the design work… don’t. Not all the time anyway. You started a business and you want to see it grow, correct? Then, you need to free up some of your time to focus on building growth strategies, on nurturing your existing relationships with your clients, on networking to make your company known to new potential clients, on creating content for your audience, and so on.
These are the main reasons why outsourcing is an absolute must-do for business owners and you see that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages by far. Now, let’s discuss your pain points, or at least questions, about the whole process.
01 | PROCESS: I FOUND A REMOTE DESIGNER/ TEAM - WHAT NOW?
Many designers fear that they can’t trust someone external to the company to deliver work that will match the company’s standards, that it won’t be delivered on time or that it’s going to be plain messy. How do you know whether you can trust a virtual team?
Well, you don’t. You won’t be able to know in advance whether this company is trustworthy unless you give them a chance. Similarly, you don’t really know if you can trust an in-house designer with your clients until you put him in front of the client and see what happens.
Check the company or designer’s social proof, recommendations, social media page (hell yes to stalking on Instagram!) and look at their work.
It’s impossible to know whether you can trust a virtual team without giving them the opportunity to prove their worth. Much like it’s difficult to know whether you can trust your in-house designers with your clients until you take them to a client meeting.
So, you did your research and you found a designer or team that you may want to outsource to. They look professional, they’ve got amazing social proof (aka testimonials) and their work looks great.
FIRST STEP: HOP ON A CALL
First, get on a call with them. Get a feel for their personality, make sure they understand your business, your pain points, how much help you need, how often you may need them (if you already know); in other words, understand if you would be a good fit.
Personality is such a key factor. Skills are essential but personality tells you whether you can work with someone...or not.
The consultation was a success, it seemed easy. You’re ready to get started, yeah?!
NEXT: CHOOSE A PACKAGE THAT FITS YOUR NEEDS
From this point on, I will specifically explain how KVM Design works because every outsourcing provider (that is if you find another one who does it all like we do) will have a different way to handle things; therefore, I feel like I should explain the process we use with our design clients.
First, I want you to remember that our company’s mission is to give you the best support; we adapt to you as much as possible and make the process as seamless as possible. I am, first and foremost, an interior designer who worked in a few studios before I started KVM. I KNOW how design studios work, I know how busy and stressful it gets, I know how organised your files need to be for a full team to work well together. I also know that clients buy into your brand and I believe that design should mostly stay in-house; however, we can make a huge difference when it comes to the bulk, time-consuming side of the work.
Once we have the consultation call, it’s up to my (now) new client to decide when he needs our help and, at that point, he’ll pick one of our three packages. Based on his preference, we’ll either keep to email or I’ll start a Slack channel for easy instant messaging but, whatever it is, from this point forward, communication is key.
[ If you are still reluctant at this point, start slow. Grab your 5 hours, that’s a small financial commitment for you but it will allow you to see what we can do in those 5 hours. ]
The level of details we go into will highly depend on the level of information you provide us.
Communication is key and I keep you in the loop every step of the way.
SHARING INFORMATION ABOUT A PROJECT
Send information our way about any task you need to be done and when it needs to be done by. We’re not tied down to your normal 9-5 (and often work weekends) so that allows us to tackle most deadlines (within reason, of course). I always keep in touch so that you know where we are at and will never send the files at the last minute. We are highly independent (no need to babysit) but we want to make sure we are on the right track and that you’re happy with the work. Once it’s all approved, if you request them, we’ll send you the raw files that you can keep in your database for future revisions.
02 | EFFECTIVELY TRANSLATING REQUIREMENTS TO MY REMOTE TEAM
First, I want you to know that there is no rule when it comes to how you communicate your requirements for a project to us. It is whatever way works best for YOU. We do find that written, well-organised briefs tend to work best because they can be fed to the designers afterwards much more effectively.
Whatever task is required to be done, your main contact person will always be the same, up until now it has always been me. Why? The fewer people you need to communicate with, the easier the process.
I am convinced that getting to know you project after project will enable me to understand your style, pain points, likes and dislikes to a much higher level. In the long run, this will lead to a more efficient work relationship.
It is my responsibility to find THE best designer for each project you throw at us, and I do not want you to waste time having to figure it out yourself. My end goal has always been to make your life (or at least your work ;) ) less stressful and more efficient.
Now that that’s clear, let’s talk about HOW to communicate objectives for a project. Most of our clients decide to outline their requirements in an email, often using a shared google drive folder to attach any images or videos we may need. You or a member of your team can easily get an email out with key information.
Email or Slack instant chat are helpful for regular catch-ups.
Example of an email from a client outlining requirements for a project
BELOW ARE 2 EXAMPLES OF THE WAY WE MAY HANDLE TWO DIFFERENT TASKS:
Eg. 1: You need a 3D rendering.
You create a google drive folder with the finishes, furniture, lighting that you are specifying in your project. Rename each image by adding placement information or number them and refer back to the email with the information needed.
In the email, tell us what you want to achieve and the deadline.
We will send you a 1st draft soon after for you to review the angle of the camera, the furniture used, and any other detail. After that, you will get a first draft rendering that you will be able to give feedback on. Finally, we will send you your final rendering in high resolution.
Eg 2 : You need construction drawings for a project.
First and foremost, if it matters to you, feel free to send us file templates so that we can work with the same format that you would use in the office. We will keep them on our database and make sure to use them for all the projects moving forward. As for any task, send us clear requirements and supporting files that will help in executing the work as efficiently as possible.
Remember that, with time, it will feel more and more apparent that we are an integral part of your team. At first, It’s always hard to trust someone else with your business, your brand (I know because I am also guilty of that!) but once you find a team that offers you the support you desperately need, it will feel natural.
03 | ENSURING THE WORK IS DONE RIGHT
I totally get where you are coming from. How can you be sure that the work will be done the way you need it to when this remote team isn’t part of your regular payroll?
Well, you can’t know before you try it and it doesn’t just apply to remote teams but to anyone really. If this is something that stresses you out, don’t wait until you have a big deadline to give the remote team of your choosing a project to complete. Give them work that you know you’ll have time to redo (that's a totally worst case scenario and clearly doesn’t apply to our company :-) ) should you need to and that will work as a great trial run. It will also be a good way for you to see if outsourcing is right for you.
It is important to remember that the more you work together, the smoother and easier it will become for both of you. Like any relationship in life, time will allow you to get to know each other better.
Remember that we want this relationship to work as much as you do as our company can only thrive if our work ethics are spotless. I feel that my biggest advantage is that I am an experienced interior designer, not just a business owner, and by knowing your paint points, I am able to better solve them.
As an experienced interior designer, not just a business owner, I KNOW what your paint points are and I’m better able to solve them.
I hope that this article gives you better clarity as to what it is like to work with a remote team. Always remember that when you start something new, it may sometimes feel uncomfortable initially but practice will transform it into a routine.
I started this company because it became apparent that my clients needed a service like this one to help take some of the pressure off their teams, to deal with irregular workloads, to have access to specific skills and to nail big deadlines. I highly encourage you to think about the way your company works and see if outsourcing is something that could benefit you in any way.
Don’t forget that you have access to a FREE consultation call with me to help you answer any questions you may have, no commitments required afterwards. So, if you are curious, get in touch!
You can review our services here and I’m always available to answer any question you may have.
See you soon!
Kristell Valentina Mouries
Director, KVM Design