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Interior Designer Jennifer Coates on Why Technology is Your Best Friend for Product Sourcing

Jennifer Coates sees great value in the Houzz Pro and the Houzz Trade Program, both for their efficiency and for the edge they provide in the competitive interior design market.

Stephan Rabimov

Digital platforms and technologies have radically transformed the landscapes of many industries, including interior design. From attracting clients and visualizing ideas to managing projects, invoicing and sourcing products, many of the basic processes of interior design have become digitized. When it comes to product sourcing, pros who use the technological solutions at their disposal, gain a significant edge, says Jennifer Coates, Principal + Lead Designer of the award-winning architectural and interior design studio, JL Coates Design, based in Arizona and New Jersey.

Coates’ interest in design was sparked by her Grandfather, who majored in architecture and engineering and owned construction companies in Illinois. “He used to take me downtown to Chicago all the time and tell me stories of the buildings he worked on and teach me about the history of the buildings and the city,” Coates says. “That’s when I first fell in love with architecture, at the age of 5.” Coates went on to study business and design, at Arizona State University, with a background in construction management, from Purdue University. She believes this multifaceted expertise sets her studio apart from others. “We feel like our studio is different from most others because of our knowledge, understanding and hands-on experience in construction and architecture,” she says. “We’re confident that as your advocate, we can help you put together the professional design/build team to assist with your project from beginning to end.”

Maintaining positive client relationships is Coates’ number one priority. “I’m very hands-on and I’m customer-service-oriented. My clients are like my family,” she says. She describes her ideal project as one in which she’s heavily involved every step of the way. “It is part of our process and our work ethic, to ensure our clients are taken care of through all phases of their project. If we can assist in recommended contractors + trades on your project, we want to be sure that there are experienced and established professionals on the job who show up”

To maintain a professional experience for her clients, and to keep her projects organized and on task, Coates uses Houzz Pro, a business management software that offers an all-in-one solution for lead management, proposal building, client collaboration, online payments, marketing and more. “We utilize Houzz Pro software to maintain a professional and branded experience for our clients and our documentation. This includes issuing invoices, proposals, and purchase orders,” she says. Coates especially appreciates the tracking features, since keeping projects on pace is extremely important to her workflow. “I prioritize my tasks based on deliverables,” Coates says. “My calendar is my bible.”

Houzz Pro’s tools also help Coates in her mission to build trust and position her business as an established entity. “Branding has a lot to do with building client trust, and Houzz Pro allows us to continue presenting ourselves at the highest level of professionalism by having branded documentation,” she says. Houzz Pro makes it easy to create professional invoices and proposals with just a few clicks

Of the many features that Houzz Pro offers, Coates has found that the Product Clipper tool provides the most added value to streamline her process. The Product Clipper tool is a product sourcing solution that allows you to save a product from any website to your product library. 

“My sourcing process involves preparing conceptual imagery to then present to my clients and from there we source more specific products using the Product Clipper Tool to then finalize our selections. Once our clients have finalized the presented product selections, we utilize Houzz Pro to prepare final Invoices and Purchase Orders. We are able to save our clients time and money thanks to the Product Clipper Tool streamlining our process!”

Coates sees great value in the Houzz Trade Program, both for its efficiency and for the edge it provides in the competitive sourcing market. As there are occasional times when Coates is unable to find the products she’s looking for, and that’s where Houzz Trade program comes in. Ashley is the Houzz trade account manager that works directly with Coats. Akin to having your very own design assistant, trade account managers are well-versed in the ins and outs of product sourcing. “I would say 10 out of 10 times, she always finds it for me,” Coates says.“ Ashley always goes above and beyond from contacting the manufacturers directly to check on pricing and availability to requesting additional product details.” In addition to a dedicated account manager, the Houzz Trade program offers members trade-only pricing, tailor-made quotes and customized assistance for any interior design or home renovation businesses.

The Houzz Trade Program membership offers access to upgraded shipping options, such as Preferred Elite delivery, with dynamic pricing based on order size and a simplified and elevated delivery experience. With Preferred Elite, all items are received, inspected, stored and then delivered in one coordinated shipment and on your scheduled date and time. Pros save time on damage replacements, because Houzz Preferred Elite delivery managers carefully consolidate and inspect every item on the list. Moreover, items are delivered with White Glove installation and assembly. 

With locations in Scottsdale, Arizona, and another recently opened in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Coates is looking forward to the growth and expansion of her business nationwide.

Trust is a crucial part of Coates’ business model, the foundation of how she attracts and keeps clients. “Almost 99.9% of our projects are from referrals,” she says.“There is a huge level of trust at the beginning of any project when our client receives a referral from someone who knows us or has worked with our team in the past.” Therefore, working with someone she can fully put her trust in is a nonnegotiable for Coates. “Being able to communicate at a professional level and trust the people that I’m relying on as my resources, is imperative to me,” she says. “I’m very particular on who I work with because the follow through from my resources affects my personal follow through as a professional to my clients. Ashley is an amazing help for us as part of the Houzz trade team, and I consider our relationship a partnership.”

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Stephan Rabimov

Stephan Rabimov leads Content Marketing at Houzz. Portland resident. Global citizen. Nature loving.

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