Interior Design Business Secrets – 5 Tips to Tame the Paper Tiger, Stay Organized, and Make Money
Working with design professionals on their businesses, it seems too many are operating off of random piles, post-it notes, and a chaotic office. Organization saves precious time, creates greater confidence in your business, and allows you to always know exactly your success position. There are simple, proven techniques for getting and staying on top of the paper tiger.
Mastering Client Files
Each file folder should be clearly marked with the clients name, address, and phone contact, email also. To make it truly easy use project management folders, available at any office supply resource. These provide a chart that you can log your client visits and progress on the face of the folder. Keep all job receipts, samples, product tear sheets, and client notes in the file folder. When a job is complete, move the folder to inactive but follow up regularly!
Organizing Business Receipts
Non-client related receipts, such as those for marketing, office supplies, auto expense, insurance, employee meals and more must be filed monthly if not weekly. Simply you can use either an accordion file folder, or if (as mine do) you have far too many, then use 6×9 manila envelopes in a file drawer and label each clearly with the category of expense and the year. You can then easily deliver these to your bookkeeper or accountant in time for tax preparation and financials annually as well as quarterly.
Conquering Purchase Orders
While if you are truly on top of your game, you will do all of this electronically, it is very difficult to avoid paper from vendors! So print out a copy of each order, keep it in a three-ring binder with dividers by month, staple all relevant paperwork to each order. This makes it easy to track and follow up. Be sure to record the name and date of anyone you have spoken with regarding the order on the original P.O. In addition for quick reference you can keep a log book of all orders including the date, the PO number, the vendor, the goods ordered, expected due date, and date received. Old fashioned, but it works, yes you can do this in an excel spread sheet also! For ultimate ease, I make my own PO numbers, they are sequential, but I include the client’s initials before every number.
Tracking Your Time
Yes, most of us work at least on a partial or full hourly basis whether consulting, creating, designing, coaching or project management. You’ll make more money with a daily log than a once a week or once a month mental download. Create either an excel spread sheet in your laptop or PDA or on a green columnar pad and keep it in your car. Assign values to the time being spent (down the left side), is it consulting, resourcing, design, space planning, installation, project management? Assign project names across the top and then record dates and hours. The increment you work in is up to you, some do 15 minutes, others 30 minutes or full hour. Invoice biweekly or monthly.
Regular Invoicing Keeps Cash Flowing
Too often you don’t invoice until you need cash, forgetting that there is always a lag between the time you request the payment and when you’ll get it, often a delay of 30, 60 and even 90 days despite the terms you stated of pay on receipt. So, first invoice often. That means a minimum of biweekly and monthly. In addition, for your services, work off a retainer. You can provide retainers for as few as 5 hours or for a percentage o f the project estimate. This commits the client to the project and allows you money upfront. At the expenditure of each retainer, you send an invoice marked paid with detail of its use and then include the next retainer. This will keep you on track instead of behind. You are a business owner, not a bank!
Using the easy to implement system here will tame your paper nightmares, keep you organized and on track for bringing in the dollars. Passion for work is paramount, but useless if you aren’t profiting!