“Don’t reinvent the wheel.”
Simple, simple advice, but so important for creative entrepreneurs to keep top of mind. Save your creativity for your interiors. You don’t need to make up the systems or processes from scratch. An accounting software custom-made for designers is my baseline for my interior-design systems. Let me tell you why.
It’s essential to never start with a blank slate, but rather, to have solid systems in place.
I have personally tested several back-office design-trade companies, and have found that Studio Designer is the right fit for us. It integrates all of our client resources (project details, proposals, and invoices) with the accounting component. That is so, so important to me as a former business consultant and finance major.
The in-depth details of the program allow for top-notch project management. In our case, we are able to give clients continuous project updates (seriously, they should be hearing from you every week), are in constant contact with our vendors to keep them on schedule, stay on top of the status and whereabouts of all of our orders, at all times (in-transit, at the receiver, delivered), and schedule deliveries.
I’ve chosen Studio Designer for their financial integration and deep dive into data. Read on for how I use Studio Designer in my interior design business.
Over a decade in business = tons of information to store. Everything from proposals to invoices to client addresses. The sheer volume of orders alone makes my head spin. Who has the capacity to keep track of all of that?
Studio Designer does. Whether it’s in a proposal, order, or invoice stage, they are the information hub mother load. You can code your client addresses with unique values—one example for us is the code “holiday card.” This code is used to generate a list of all of the potential clients who reach out over the year so that we can send them a holiday card every year and let them know we’re thinking of them.
Rather than jumping from platform to platform, I’m able to stay in studio all day long for multiple tasks. The address book is a simple, but incredibly useful aspect of Studio. Whether it’s a potential client, a fellow designer, a fabric rep, or even my Amazon.com login, I’m able to store contacts, logins, and more in the address book feature. It’s easy to sort and can store tons of content.
The financials in Studio Designer are locked down tight. It’s a project management software with accounting capabilities. With the touch of a button, I can see where we are all the time with the following:
- Accounts payable
- Accounts receivable
- WIP (Work in progress)
- Income statement and balance sheet
As a business owner, this is tremendously important. I don’t have to search through multiple accounts or stacks of paperwork to find key financials. They’re all accessible to me, any time I need them. Sometimes clients will request a financial update and thanks to Studio Designer, I can whip that off in minutes.
Cutting checks is very easy in Studio Designer, so much so that two of my administrative employees do so on the regular. It’s incredibly helpful and keeps everything moving.
This functionality allows your clients to access their portal at all times and see the status of proposals, orders, and invoices. You can configure the portal so that select staff members and clients receive email notifications about their project. Settings enable you to activate the client portal or keep it turned off until a potential client turns into an actual client.
On Fridays, I send a weekly project update email to all of my clients, and end it with a link to their client portal and a line that says: “A great way to see everything and keep track is via our client portal.” This gives them the freedom to log in at their convenience.
Clients can go in and approve, as well as pay for, items directly through their client portal. This keeps everyone up to speed, and aware of their project status.
In the vendor portal, you can link to vendors that you use repeatedly and sort by vendor name or specific tags/categories (product type, style, etc.). This is an area we’re still learning and utilizing, but I love the option to keep vendor communication within Studio Designer.
The items list in Studio Designer allows you to look at every single item you’ve proposed in a clear format. You can search by client, project, room, vendor, etc. and edit your items with detailed descriptions, finishes, measurements, and costs such as purchasing and selling price. From there, you can create proposals, orders, and invoices, and always have a point of reference for client items. I can’t tell you how often my team and I utilize items, both for spec info, and also for PR initiatives (i.e., when writing a blog post and looking for finish details, etc.).
Items is where you will create proposals, orders, and invoice clients. We use the line items to populate order information and expediting details, which we then run reports on for clients. This allows clients to stay up to date on their project.
You can also send vendor quote requests through the items tab, giving vendors all of the information they need to give you an accurate item quote.
Another great feature of the items tab: The ability to set budgets per line item. Once we have a floor plan, we put in all line items as placeholders, then go through and add budget amounts to each line item. This is then shared with the client for sign-off on overall budget.
In Reports, there are client worksheets, budget worksheets, expediting worksheets, and all accounting worksheets. Within the reports tab, there are multiple reports under each of these broad categories, and you can select and adjust different settings to pull the worksheets you need. This process can be completely custom tailored to your firm’s needs.
Studio Designer has been my go-to program for almost a decade, and I truly can’t recommend it enough.
Which Studio Designer features are you interested in learning more about?