5 Ways corona virus impacts interior designers
Corona virus is having an effect on businesses across the board. As I’m having conversations with clients and brands in the interior design world here’s some of the concerns they’re raising about how Corona virus impacts interior designers.
1. Day to day working in your business
As I write this remote working from home is now the new normal. This may not be much of a change for many interior designers who are often sole traders working from home or alone in a studio.
However its important to try and continue to keep your projects on track as much as possible. This means talking to people and staying connected. Make sure all the tools you need to run your business are cloud accessible. Zoom.us is a video conferencing app which I use to consult with many of my clients. Use it to set up virtual meetings with multiple participants, screen share to show information such as documents and plans.
If you are larger interior design practice and employ people you’ll need to keep abreast of the government guidelines for employers. At the time of writing the government advice is that businesses should encourage people to work from home as much as possible. Check the latest guidance for employers.
The government has also laid out a package of support available to small businesses which includes help with reclaiming statutory sick pay, business interruption loans and support with business rates.
2. Disruption in the supply chain
There’s never been a better time to shop local. One of the main ways corona virus impacts interior designers is through uncertainty in the supply chain. The impact on the supply chain has been felt for some time now. There’s reports of delayed shipments from China, cancelled orders and long lead times due to factory closures. Whilst some of the factories are now back up and running it may be some time before they are back up to full productivity. We are yet to discover the impact on retailers here in the UK. Similarly we are yet to feel the effects on furniture export of the lockdown and travel bans of countries such as Italy and Spain. At a time like this you need to be in close contact with your suppliers and manufacturers as the situation changes day by day.
3. Design shows postponed
KBB at the NEC in Birmingham may be the last event we’ll see for a while. The Spring season of design shows across the globe takes a huge hit from the Corona virus epidemic. Corona virus impacts interior designers look at the new season’s offerings as trade shows such as High Point in the US and Salon del Mobile were cancelled. Here in the UK Clerkenwell design week has postponed from May to July. Grand Designs in May will now be in August. The Ideal Home Show is postponed and we await further news of a future date. For more details see my interior design events calendar which I’m updating as quickly as I hear of the new dates.
4. Home decor product sales to slow
It goes without saying sales of home decor products will be affected. Sales of everything are affected as people rein in on spending down to the bare essentials. However the good news is that there is a precedent in that after recovery from global events that financially affect us such as 9/11 or the 2008 recession people spend more on their homes in order to feel safe and nurtured. Similarly the luxury goods market is always one to recover quickly. Consumers that spend more on say high end furnishings and luxury interiors are more likely to have the means to ride out this storm of financial insecurity whilst it lasts. They will come back stronger as we already see now in China. The malls are reopening and consumer confidence returns with consumers “revenge spending” at the joy of being free again. Let’s hope that happens here too!
5. Property development and sales
There is an expected slow down and delay of construction projects due to shortage of labour and materials. Estate agents are already reporting viewings being cancelled. Whereas some are offering virtual viewings to avoid customers having visitors in their home. Additionally, when things get back to normal we’ll have to wait and see how the banks react with new mortgage approvals after this period of economic uncertainty. We can expect a knock on effect from these impacts on property development and sales into the interior design and home staging sector
How to keep your business visible and trading during the slow down
I’m not going to say I have a magic wand here. This is going to be a tough time for all of us. We are facing something we’ve never seen before and it is hard to predict what the outcome will be. Some of you may have experienced tough times before in 2008 and it’s time to dig deep to that resilience that got you through.
There is good news in that we are seeing the figures of new cases in China are now almost negligible. Things there are slowly returning to normal. With that in mind we can hope that it is just a matter of just a few months that we have to ride this out before we too are back to business as usual. With that in mind here’s two things that you can do to help you get through this that involve minimum expenditure.
Keep in touch with your customers
80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers. Contact them and let them know how you are still operational in the current circumstances. Let them know you’re still here and ready to help, how you are able to manage this and that right now no job is too small!
Be flexible and diversify
Offer a variety of services that position your service at different price points. Break down and stagger services room by room if possible. Offer online consultations via questionnaires or colour consultations. If you offer home decor products introduce products at entry level price points if you don’t already have them.
Finally here’s one more thing that I’d recommend you must do at whatever level you can afford to.
Don’t stop marketing your business
Right now everyone will be thinking of cutting back on their advertising and promotions to save money. However think about the fact that this makes it a much less crowded field to stand out in. If you can afford to plan campaigns in the next few weeks as things return to normal you’ll be really visible in your marketplace. If your budgets are tight use social media and email campaigns to keep in touch and at the forefront of your customers minds.
Best wishes to you all as I hope you all get through this ok, stay safe and keep your projects on track.