Christina Kittelstad is a tutor of QC Design School. She’s also an accomplished color consultant, home stager, and painter. Her work has even been featured on HGTV’s show, “House Hunters”. She’s the owner and lead color consultant for Spiral Design Color Consulting. Christina is best known for creating beautiful, functional spaces through the use of color, as well as establishing a sense of style and personality that’s as unique as each of her clients!
For as long as the design industry can remember, the standard practice for interior decorators, home stagers, color consultants, professional organizers, Aging in Place designers, and Feng Shui experts has been to work personally with clients.
That is to say: in one-on-one situations, usually within the client’s own home or business.
In more recent years, however, there’s been a growing trend to moving business services online. More and more, designers are offering the option to work with clients remotely.
Personally, I have been at the forefront of this virtual design trend for quite some time, and have long since implemented it into my own business. As such, I’d love to share some of the benefits of offering e-design services to your clients…
1. It Meets Your Client’s Unique Needs
In light of the current pandemic, this is an excellent time to evaluate all of your business practices. In particular, consider how you might adjust your methods in order to better meet the needs of your clients, while still continuing to thrive as a professional designer.
Although clients are being advised to remain indoors and socially distance themselves from others, there are still plenty of services you can offer them remotely. This way, you can continue earning a quality income with your design business.
Your clients may be stuck at home, or working from home – but they may also still be attempting to make progress on updating their homes! They made a wish to rearrange their living space, upgrade finishes, organizing their belonging, or even have an expert color consultant assist them in choosing new paints.
All of this work is work that can be done online! Calling, texting, emailing, and video chatting all are viable options for communication. Make the best of this time, and meet your clients where they are.
I assure you: pandemic or no pandemic, they are still online looking for professional assistance, design ideas, color trends, organizational tips, online shopping, or even just reading their favorite design magazines!
Just keep in mind that some clients may have a limited budget, for now, all things considered. So, it may be worth it to see if your business can afford to offer specials and promotions during this difficult time. (Only if it’s doable for you, though!)
2. You Can Work with Clients Everywhere
And we do mean EVERYWHERE! Offering virtual design services to clients means you can have the potential ability to work with people all across the globe. If they have a computer and a phone, you can probably do business.
Of course, different clients have different preferences and limitations. There will still be many people who prefer working with a design professional in-person, in their own home, or at their place of business.
These people will rarely consider working remotely. They know what works best for them, and are much more comfortable speaking with someone face-to-face. For other clients, however, e-design services are the perfect solution for their needs!
Some examples of potential clients who could be interested in virtual design services include:
- People who live in rural areas
- People who travel a lot
- People who are tech-savvy
- People who lead busy lives
- People who are introverted
- People who have a larger budget
- People who prefer the convenience of working remotely
Some of my most successful projects have been with clients living abroad, who needed access to quality design and color consultant services.
3. You Get to Enjoy a Flexible Work Environment
Working with clients remotely means you have enormous freedom to work practically anywhere. Arguably, this is one of the biggest advantages of offering e-design services!
We all have different preferences on what type of creative environment supports us doing our best work. Some designers thrive on activity and social interaction. Others think best when in solitude.
Personally, I prefer to hear myself think out a design concept, or a new color scheme, in the privacy of my own home (and loungewear).
Either way, the ability to work from anywhere is a HUGE bonus!
4. You Can Provide Faster, More Convenient Services
I can’t count the number of times someone has come to me with a client who needs to select their paint colors on a time-crunch. The painters are ready to start (or the job is past its deadline), but the client hasn’t yet found the perfect color scheme.
These clients are in a hurry, have gone through countless colors without success, and desperately need a professional color consultant/designer to intervene. Critically, they require this assistance in a timely, stress-free, and organized manner.
This is the key to our success in these scenarios. Using our experience to help clients get back to center feels amazing!
By offering virtual design services, you can communicate with your clients faster. Sometimes, for example, a project deadline doesn’t allow for enough time to schedule a consultation a week or more out. In these cases, your client needs you as of yesterday!
By having the ability to schedule a phone consultation, communicate effectively by email, and/or use digital images and video files to refer to, you offer your clients the ability to stay on track. You can provide solutions that best meet their needs.
This is priceless for you, your business partners, and most importantly, your clients!
5. There’s A Better Overall Work-Life Balance
Personally, I found that offering virtual design services came out of necessity. I’d spent the better part of 10 years driving everywhere to meet with my clients in-person. While I loved the bond that in-person interactions allowed me to form with my clients, it didn’t always suit my life outside of work.
Eventually, I started a family and experienced some health challenges not long after. In light of this change in circumstances, working remotely by offering e-design services was the best fit for both myself and my clients.
It granted me the work-life balance and freedom that I needed at the time – and still benefit from today!
6. You Can Provide Clients with Helpful Design Tools
One challenge to e-design services is not having the ability to directly show the client a color or design swatch, and see their initial reactions. However, you can have paint color chips, fabric swatches, and other design samples mailed directly to them!
This way, they can review them and then discuss things with you via email, phone, or video chat.
My clients love that I can mail them tools that they can work within their home. The fact that I can create a color plan for their project on my own schedule, and they can contact me with any questions along the way, is so convenient for all parties!
Another bonus is that the typical daily schedule need not apply when it comes to e-design services. Technology is your best friend on these projects! For the clients who prefer working remotely, this process is easy and most favorable.
Plus, who doesn’t love receiving fun mail these days?
7. It Connect You with DIY Clients
Many clients don’t always want to sign up and pay for an in-depth design process or consultation. In many cases, these processes require a large time commitment – and an even larger budget needed for the materials. Not everyone’s up for that, and that’s okay!
Luckily, the DIY trend is still going strong. These clients want information and tools, without a timely or financial commitment. Rather, they benefit from simple, virtual design services.
They know what their unique design style and preferences are. They’ve explored their ideas, and have likely found tons of inspiration already. Often, the necessary research has been done, and a vision is ready to be executed!
These potential DIY clients just need a little guidance and direction. Sometimes, even just a second opinion is all they’re really looking for. Here, offering e-design services is the perfect solution.
By providing them with direct feedback on their specific questions, and assisting them with narrowing down the components needed for their final vision, you’re meeting your clients’ needs – without requiring a huge time commitment on anyone’s part.
8. You Get to Keep Evolving
As the design world continues to evolve, interior decorators, color consultants, professional organizers, home stagers, Aging in Place designers, and Feng Shui consultants should always be re-evaluating their business practices!
See what has been working well, versus what services can afford to be adjusted in order to best meet the needs of your clients. As times change, you want to keep your business relevant, growing, and successful!
Remember: there is a learning curve to offering virtual design services successfully. You won’t master it overnight, so don’t expect to. (Heck, it took me 10 years!) Even once you’ve become an e-design pro, not every client will be a good fit for this service structure.
There will always be those who are not interested, and never will be. But there will also be plenty of clients who ARE! For those who prefer flexibility and convenience, there are definitely a ton of worthwhile benefits to offering virtual design services!