Interior design is so much more than just making beautiful spaces. Project management is a huge part of a job, and without the proper organization in place, your first project may be your last. Keeping an interior design project on schedule is no easy feat. You need the cooperation of your clients, contractors, vendors and other tradespeoples, and you need to be mistake-free on your end. And in case that’s not enough pressure, the interior designer is often the person everyone else involved in a project looks to for direction, answers, and accountability.
But pressure makes gems, and with the right plans in place, all of your projects can succeed. With that in mind, here are six strategies for keeping your interior design projects on schedule (hint: they are all about organization!):
- Have a process for onboarding clients, decision making, and project communications: Your interior design project starts and ends with your clients. Create a standard way of working with clients through each phase and include deadlines for clients to give feedback, make decisions, and provide payment necessary to move to the next phase. Create a recurring meeting to continue throughout the course of the project where open items can be resolved. Streamline your client communications and be as intentional and clear in your messages as possible.
- Research lead times on materials: Before making a design presentation to your clients, know the lead times on every material or FF&E that you show them as a potential option. If a certain product is back-ordered for a year but you would need it in 12 weeks, you don’t want to include that in your design presentation.
- Establish deadlines and accountability with contractors: As the interior designer, you are relying on builders and installers to implement your plans and their timeline has to line up with yours. Come to a formal agreement before a project begins that sets a construction schedule and defines accountability between all parties. Set a regular time to meet on-site weekly to make sure the building is being completed on schedule and to the standard you expect.
- Be properly staffed: Keeping an interior design project running on schedule will take flexibility, adaptability, and last-minute maneuvering on your part. If your contractor needs changes to be reflected in new drawings, how quickly can you turn them around? Make sure your team has the personnel needed to get the job done, or that you have reliable options for outsourcing necessary functions.
- Have a highly organized back office: The back office of an interior design firm must be a well-oiled machine. Once a project begins, so does a continuous exercise of ordering materials and furniture, tracking the production and shipment of such, and collecting payments — all of which occur in a prescribed sequence that must be properly managed to keep the project funded and operating on schedule. This is when investing in a software solution made specially for interior designers, like Design Manager, pays off. Design Manager in particular can effectively and efficiently facilitate the process of collecting payments, creating purchase orders, and managing logistics.
- Collect payments online: Having the ability to send invoices and securely collect payments all through one digital platform is a game changer. Seek out project management platforms, like Design Manager, that have partnered with Stripe to make collecting payments online even easier than it was before. Your clients won’t have to wait until they have time to write a check and you won’t have to wait for payments to show up in the mail– everything can be handled in minutes via a link to pay by either credit card or ACH directly through the platform.
Keeping an interior design project on schedule requires detailed planning, clear communication, and most of all, organization. Investing in business software made specifically for the interior design business model will transform your operations through the level of organization brought to your business, making staying on schedule your usual way of doing business.