Handling Everyday Hurdles
Having to tackle the myriad business aspects of a design firm can be particularly challenging for creative-minded people. “One of the biggest challenges is not truly getting to just do the interior design part a lot,” Andrea says. “I spend so much of my time dealing with problems that happen on every project, back orders, damages, being the liaison between trades and clients.”
“That’s a full-time job,” Rik adds, noting that there’s “much complexity behind how many things can go wrong in our industry. You buy a $50 candle and there’s colors, there’s sizes, there’s odors and smells and perfumes, and there’s so many things that could come in wrong, that could come in broken or end up backordered.… It’s time-consuming, and it’s an aspect of the business that not many clients really understand.”
To make the complexity manageable and help free up time for doing more of what they love about designing, Andrea and Rik use Houzz Pro software. They find certain features particularly handy: “the purchase orders, proposals and invoices,” Rik says, “and the syncing with other accounting platforms also is life-saving. Back in the day, having to switch to one software from another and having to go backward and forward was a complete nightmare.”
He adds that “Houzz Pro has been a real game changer. You can’t buy more time in the day, and something like that allows us to have more time in the day to be able to focus on what we’re supposed to be doing — our design business — rather than wasting time chasing things or not having things work properly.”
“I think one of my new favorite features would be the messages,” Andrea says. “If a client sends a message through their portal, the whole team sees it. I don’t need to worry about forwarding emails or CC-ing somebody. Anybody can log on and get a holistic view of the project by going through the messages that were sent to everybody.”
The software is even part of their sales pitch. They “sell it at the beginning and make it definitely a bonus part of working with us,” Andrea says, adding that she tells prospective clients, “You’re going to get a personalized portal, and it is going to be available to you 24/7.” And the use of the software platform is written into client agreements.