We have such an amazing team at JCI. I’m actually pretty smitten with our whole staff.
Today I want to share a post by Lacy, our office manager, about her perspective. It’s pretty interesting to me- hope it is to you too!
Lacy, office manager to the stars: All the fun happens at my desk…
Interior Design is generally a pretty magical process. We meet new clients and get to know their needs, make selections, and install the beauty. Sounds pretty simple, right? Not so much. As the Office Manager at JCI, I serve as Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, and all things business related. To put it bluntly, I handle the accounts (client and vendor) while the other girls get to play with fabric and paint colors. While I do absolutely adore my job, it has its quirks. In the next 6 steps, I’m going to break down the general process of a design job, including what actually goes on behind the scenes…
1. Initial Client Contact
Our phone rings none stop here at the office. Vendors, custom furniture makers, solicitors, drapery workrooms and my favorite, new potential clients! These calls are so important for the client and our company. It’s crucial that I make each and every new potential feel as comfortable and welcome as possible and that I relay as much information as I can without overwhelming them. This is generally a positive experience. Except for the crazies. You all know who I’m talking about. The folks who want to design a 6,000 square foot house for $8,000. As much as we would love to, it’s just not humanly possible. After I explain the design process, an initial consult is put on the calendar and we are ready to roll!
2. Design Meetings
This is where the design magic happens. Clients are in and out of the office making selections and reviewing the designers work. I enjoy this part of the process. It’s out of my realm.
3. Placing and Tracking Orders
Here’s where my fun begins. Once the client and designer have come to their conclusions for the design direction, orders are placed. Did you know that it takes 8-10 weeks for most of the vendors we use to ship us ANYTHING? A table, a chair, a sofa, you name it. Some less, and dreadfully, some even more! This all depends on the 3 S’s: stock, season, and sensibility. If an item is in stock (rarely…), it’s not Market season, and the person handling our account is generally a smart person we will receive orders in a timely manner. If not, no luck Chuck. Explaining backorders to clients is like jumping in the pool with ankle weights on, hoping you can swim to the top for air. Assume the worst while hoping for the best. I TRULY appreciate our clients who understand that this inconvenience is completely out of my reach and that I will do everything I can to speed the process along.
After I get to track the orders week in and week out, I get the joy of dealing with receiving. Here’s my favorite scenario: Our client Suzie, ordered 2 lamps that cost her over $700.00 along with furniture to fill her entire home. We love her! When I ordered the two lamps, the manufacturer informed me that there would be a backorder of 8 weeks. I passed this information along to Suzie who wonderfully understood. I had no idea that this same manufacturer would backorder the lamps another 6 weeks! Having to explain to Suzie that this company was being difficult was awful. Thank goodness she was so sweet and receptive. After 14 long weeks, the lamps finally came in…. with smashed shades. Thank you UPS. Really, you shouldn’t have.
Again, this is not my world. Have at it ladies! Work your design magic!
6. Follow Up
At the end of a client’s design job, there are just a few things to tie up. Most of these revolve around billing. “You mean I have to pay those design time invoices when Kendall was slaving over my drawings for 4 hours?” Yes ma’am, yes ma’am you do. That’s how Kendall feeds her family. I send these invoices out throughout the process so it’s not overwhelming after installation. We want your main focus to be your beautiful home, not invoices. But interior design is a luxury service and we pride ourselves on truly believing that you get what you pay for. We have a remarkably talented office and try to do the absolute most we can for our clients for the smallest investment possible.
Working in this field is truly dreamy. But I thought you all might enjoy seeing what really goes on behind the scenes. We appreciate each and every one of our clients. They’ve each been a true learning experience for us all. We look forward to what lies ahead and can’t wait to make an impact on as many homes as possible!
Just pay the invoices ; )