If you aspire to attract more highly affluent clients, you may be surprised to learn that your interior design skills are not necessarily top-of-mind for them when hiring an interior designer. Other factors such as trust, confidentiality, professionalism, and how you operate your business may help to differentiate you from the rest of the competition. What those factors are will differ for each client. To earn their confidence and win their business, you need to get to know them and let them get to know you, too.
In this podcast, Gail talks with Pamela Harvey, principal owner of Pamela Harvey Interiors, with offices in Northern Virginia and St. Petersburg, Florida. Her firm specializes mainly in high-end residential design, both renovations and new construction. Pamela is also a coach for Pearl Collective.
Before studying to become an interior designer, Pamela worked as a corporate executive for Liz Claiborne, overseeing retail stores up and down the East Coast. Among other things, she said, it taught her the importance of knowing your customer. She learned to tailor the selection of merchandise available in each store according to the tastes and preferences of local consumers. Those insights have helped her in attracting and working with her ideal client in her design business.
Gail noted that Pamela has been very successful working with affluent clients and asked her what designers who want to work with that type of client need to know about them. Pamela said trust was very important. “Affluent clients need to feel that they know you personally,” she said. In addition, “you need to be able to understand their lifestyle” and to talk with them about topics other than design, such as their travel. Pamela said she had met a number of affluent clients first socially, at the local country club and by working with local charities.
Gail also asked, after more than 20 years in the business, what, in hindsight, Pamela might wish she had done differently. She said she would have tried to grow a bit bigger and hired more staff earlier on. Being cautious about not trying to grow too fast “probably held me back a little bit,” she reflected. She also mentioned that in the beginning she took whatever projects came her way rather than focusing more on projects she really wanted to do. “I went through a lot of years when the business ran me,” she mused.
Gail wrapped up their conversation by asking Pamela to offer her advice in three areas:
- To interior designers who are single moms. Pamela replied that it was important to take on clients who are not too needy or demanding and to manage your time well.
- To new design entrepreneurs. Make a business plan, for five to ten years, to give yourself goals and direction, Pamela offered. Also, put systems and procedures in place to run your business effectively.
- To designers who are feeling the impact of the current economic environment. Pamela suggested following up more consistently with clients, keeping yourself relevant, reaching out to former clients, and asking for referrals.
Pamela also talked about the challenges of setting up offices in more than one location and the business skills she has mastered over the years. Listen to the entire podcast for more details.
If you’re listening on your favorite podcast platform, read the full shownotes here: https://thepearlcollective.com/s8e2-shownotes
Mentioned in This Podcast
To learn more about Pamela and her work, visit the website for Pamela Harvey Interiors.
For more information on working with affluent clients, read our Ultimate Guide to Working with Affluent Clients.