Is your interior design business ready for a new hire?
How Prepared are you to hire a virtual interiro design assistant?
How many times have you sat there, feeling overwhelmed, whishing you had help, but then thinking…it would take me longer to have someone help than to do this myself. How would I even find the right person? I can't afford to hire anyone...So you pick yourself up, sip that next sip of coffee and plug away at that ever growing to-do list. You’re not alone and it’s a common story. I’ll be honest, you might be totally right, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The majority of times when we work with someone who struggles to fulfill their hours, its for a few reasons:
They are struggling to relinquish control
Their project data is not organized in a away that supposrts project hand-offs
They might be spending more time on their communication than actual work, which reduces what they can pass off.
I'll address each of these and how you can better prepare your design business to help to reduce the overwhelm.
If you are struggling to relinquish control-
Welcome to the club, friend. It's HARD to let things go, but I bet if you really think about it, there are some more low-risk tasks you can hand off that will save you some time. Yes, it might take a little extra time to explain your tasks and standards in the beginning, but I promise, once you get through that phase, it's smooth sailing. Some easy low-risk, low-impact tasks you can hand off.
• Vendor and product research • Product sourcing • Data review (concerned whether or not what you paid for has been invoiced?) • Scheduling • Email management • Order Tracking • Order payments • Floorplans/renders that can easily be reviewed.
These tasks might be little items, but little items add up. Product tracking can take around 2 hours a week for regular follow-up, data review can be at least another hour, email management, another hour…by hiring a virtual assistant are staff member, you might just get yourself another four hours a week. It’s time to go get that pedicure/facial you have been delaying and up your self-care game or, perhaps, develop that next stage of your business.
If your project data is not organized-
Again, you are in good company. If you have been working solo, you might not be thinking about how you are going to share information in the future and if you are just trying to survive, you might be taking the path of least resistance. In this case I cannot stress enough using storage back-up programs like Dropbox, which will allow you to share a link , and project management programs like Ivy and My Doma that allow you to organize design project data. Using these programs makes sharing information as easy as sharing a link and/or log-in with yoru virtual design assistant! And never underestimate the value of pictures and drawings (even sloppiest of them) in conveying your vision.
If your find your day/week is dominated by communication-
I get it, you want to be available for your client. Good on you for making time, BUT if you are spending the majority of your time in back and forth communication, it might signal another issue. No judgement, I have been there myself and I wouldn't be honest if I said I didn't find myself there still on occasion.
First of all, you might be making yourself TOO available. This is a really hard lesson to learn and I learned it the hardest way in my first year of business. I would quite honestly spend 10+ hours a week on calls that made me NO money. My idea was that even if someone wasn't considering hiring me, a phone call might make the difference. That was an entire day of work lost. I realized that I needed a new system which is when I stopped providing my phone number to clients and began using a project management system for communication. It allows me to communicate with my clients purposefully and, when needed, we schedule calls to review projects. The project management system allows clients to see the status of a project at anytime by viewing our notes and comments, which typically reduces the needs for calls and check-ins.
Second, again, it might be a system breakdown. If you are spending all your time with back and forth communication, it might indicate that there are too many plates in the air, which might be easily resolved by handing off tasks like those listed above. Not to mention, if not onboarded properly, your clients might not know what to expect from working with you (We have a course/guide on that here) which can be a major time-suck as you try to keep confused clients informed as the project evolves.
Before you hire, know that introducing anyone into your business can be a challenege and can take a minute to get used to, especially if it is virtual. We have found that while some clients are ready to hand tasks of right away with ease, other's might need a month or two to introduce it into their routine and allow it to make sense for their business. Whatever your process, know that you are not alone, you can afford the help you need and your goals are definitely with-in reach!