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Retail Threat: REDESIGN!

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Decorating School Crash Course

Lesson #8: Present a seminar that will generate traffic and allow you to reclaim sales from a competitor you may not even know you had!

Basic Skills by Margarett DeGange, M.Ed.

Editor’s Note: This is the eighth article in our Decorating Crash Course series. The text is written so that you can first recap what we have already covered in a few of the previous Furniture World Decorating Crash Course articles, and then easily use that information to put on a customer seminar on The Basics of Interior Redesign.

We will also look at why we should embrace redesign, and in what manner. The general script for your redesign seminar is laid out here, pulling from some of what we already covered and putting that information together in a new way. This interior redesign seminar that starts with the “Sample Script”?section on page 9 can be presented “as is” but you should add additional elements to give your seminar a personal touch as outlined in the December/January 2007 issue of FURNITURE WORLD Magazine, “Simple but Sensational Seminars: Keys to a Memorable Presentation,” posted to the article archives on www.furninfo.com. Decorating seminars are a fantastic way to get quality leads and referrals. They help customers to solve decorating problems, and they position you as a home furnishings expert.


Don't reinvent the wheel, just realign it.
-Anthony J. D'Angelo, The College Blue Book

USE WHAT YOU HAVE
This article is all about reinvention, realignment, and using what you have. It’s about using the knowledge that you’ve already been given, reinventing how you approach your customer relationships, and realigning yourself in a changing home fashions market. Don't reinvent the wheel, just realign it.

For many months this series has presented sample scripts for hosting lead- generating customer seminars. In-house seminars are a fantastic gift that you can give to your customers, and one of the best ways to connect with them on a meaningful level. If you do a good job, these seminars will ensure that they will return to you again in the future.

Once again, we will cover a fun and informative topic that you can share with your audience. This time, however, before we get into seminar content, I want to bring up the point that gaining knowledge is a good thing to do, but using the knowledge you’ve gained is even better, and using it strategically is the very best! In this article, you will read how to do all three.

Some things will be a tad different in this lesson. First, a short reminder of how you can promote and present an in-house seminar will be presented. Guidelines for hosting a seminar, marketing it and presenting it were discussed in the December/January 2007 issue (posted to the furninfo.com website). So let’s recap some of those guidelines with the intent that this time you will actually put the advice to use. It’s time to get off the showroom sofa and do what you said you were going to do—put on a customer seminar!

This article will recap the basics of putting on an in-house seminar, and also present a new “sample script” on the topic of interior redesign. Teaching audiences about redesign requires pulling out and tying together concepts from several past articles in this series. Taking some of the principles from three of our previous sample scripts—focal points, furniture placement, and accessorizing— you will see how to teach a seminar called The Basics of Redesign. This gives you a brand new seminar topic to add to your seminar series.

WHY DO A SEMINAR ON REDESIGN?
Good question! Redesign is a concept that has been sweeping the nation. It is huge in Canada, for example, and hitting hard in Europe and Australia as well. The basic premise of a redesign is to use what customers ALREADY OWN to redefine your interior spaces. Sounds like a splendid idea, right? H_ _ L no! Not if you are a furniture store owner, or a sales consultant who makes money selling furniture and accessories. So why would I even touch the subject, or suggest that you do an in-house seminar on redesign? No, I am not a taunter, and I do not want to get you all worked up! I DO want to equip you to innovate in today’s changing market. Redesigners are everywhere.

They are roaming the earth in droves. They are in your local neighborhoods, talking your customers out of your sale. They are not monsters, though. They are nice women and men who are just trying to make a living, but these nice folks are, in a very real sense, your competitors.

Redesign is a service category of interior decorating with a very low (or no) barrier to entry, because it is not product-based, storefront-based, or inventory-based. It is service-based, and the skills involved can be learned relatively quickly. Don’t get me wrong, redesign has its rightful and very useful place in the field of decorating. I teach it to professionals on occasion. However, I always approach the topic in a much different way than the redesign industry does. Decorators, designers, and furniture and accessory sales consultants should see redesign as a “foot in the door” to the customer’s home. It is a way to get a prospect to PAY YOU for a lead instead of you paying about $200 plus for an advertising generated lead. It is also a way to position yourself to create an ongoing relationship with the client and offer them other services and products that will improve their quality of life and keep you connected to them over the life of a project and beyond. Every furniture store should have a redesign consultant on staff (feel free to contact me for more information on setting this up). This is a brilliant way to get the customer “thinking” about new furniture before they ever thought they would!
The script that follows will allow you to successfully compete with the local redesign industry, as well as the tendency for some customers to “pass” on new furniture purchases and opt to use what they already own. You cannot ignore the practice of redesign. It is here to stay. There are industry trade associations with large membership bases that are totally dedicated to this fast-growing profession.

How Do You Get Your Customers Back?
So how do you snatch your customers back? How do you ensure your customers will buy new goods instead of working with the old? You fight fire with fire, that’s how. You do an in-house seminar on interior redesign, and you do it three or four times a year. You let people come for free. You give them cookies and really good-tasting tea, and best of all, you tell them all about interior redesign, but with a twist. You show them how to do a redesign, how to merge the new with the old, how to infuse spaces with pops of new color and texture. You teach them that the sofa is the anchor of the space, and should be chosen wisely to tie the other existing pieces together. For those who won’t yet let go, you teach them how to allow their old pieces to become placeholders for the furniture that is to come, piece by piece if necessary, as their budget allows.

Now, let’s get going. We have a lot to cover. Let’s recap the ins and outs of putting on a seminar, and then tackle the script of “the new” interior redesign.

Recap Of Seminar Hosting Fundamentals

Before The Seminar

1. Choose a topic. This should be fun, informative, and of interest to your target audience and directly tied to your product and service offerings.

2. Select a day and time that will attract the best audience, such as Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Saturday afternoons. Be certain that your time slot doesn’t interfere with other major events.

3. Invite the right audience. Use past customer lists or new home listings for names, and have guests bring a friend. Send postcard invitations to local country clubs and women’s groups that make it clear this is a fun and informative seminar with nothing being sold.

Recap: During the Seminar

1. Greet guests as they enter. As you give them a name tag, allow them to sign up for your email newsletter and special announcements. Present them with an attractive information packet with your business card and a few decorating tips or articles.

2. Set up a table of simple refreshments to show hospitality without distracting from the seminar.

3. Begin and end on time. Your total seminar should run about 35-45 minutes. Present useful information attendees can put into action immediately, but keep them wanting a bit more.

The Presentation

1. Have a Q & A session after the talk that runs about 15 minutes.

2. Open with a warm “thank you for coming”. Remind guests to have fun learning to create a beautiful home. Remind them that this is a series, and to bring a friend next time. If the turnout is small, have guests introduce themselves and share what they hope to gain from the seminar.

3. Begin with a meaningful or humorous quote or story related to the seminar topic or decorating in general, such as why you became a decorator, or a decorating dilemma that prompted you to share your solutions with others. Use this to smoothly transition to your specific topic.

4. Present the material in chunks. Each chunk or point should provide solutions to dilemmas such as “which colors should I choose?” or “how do I arrange furnishings for optimal space?”

5. You can use index cards, but keep them to a minimum with just a few trigger words on each. Make eye contact with your audience rather than with your props or cards.

6. Use props—a few well chosen pieces, such as beautiful fabric swatches, an accessory, or a large color wheel, for example. Make sure everyone can see the prop without straining.

7. As you speak, be yourself. Have fun and show you care with excitement and emotion. Know your purpose which is to give reliable information and make friends. Don’t read a list of boring facts. Make your audience laugh with wit related to the topic. Steer clear of jokes, that might offend.

8. Give solutions—Tie the information to specific ways it can be used in the home.

9. Before you conclude, give action steps they can use when they leave. This motivates the audience. For example, suggest they choose a color scheme for one room in the next 3 weeks.

10. Have a clear conclusion, such as “that wraps up today’s topic. Now you can go home feeling just like a decorator.” Refer briefly to the beginning story or quote, or another related quote. Offer to answer a few questions, and remind everyone of the date of the next seminar. Thank them for coming. Your seminar will be a great success, leading to leads, referrals, and sales.

SAMPLE SCRIPT: BASICS OF INTERIOR REDESIGN

“Redesign is an exciting concept that you can apply to your home to breathe new life into your spaces. A good redesign can really improve the way you feel, and therefore, how you live.

Today I want to share with you what redesign is, and how it can change your life for the better. Interior redesign WILL improve your life and the way you live and use the spaces within your home.

Let’s look at 8 of the most common questions asked about interior redesign. The answers will help you create beautiful, peaceful, and functional interiors.

What Is Interior Redesign?
We are all quite familiar with the concept of redesign, although we may not be very familiar with the term itself. When we were children, our parents or family members probably rearranged the furnishings from time to time, leaving us feeling as if we came home to an exhilarating new home. This type of “rearrangement” is at the heart of interior redesign.

Redesign is the art of creating one day room makeovers using many of the furnishings and accessories you already own, while infusing in a new piece or two as you establish a distinct style and mood. In a redesign, furniture and accessories are regrouped and repositioned for optimal beauty and function in your room or space. Redesign is all about breathing new life into an interior to make the very best use of the space.

Redesign involves learning to position your furniture and accessories in stimulating ways, arranging all of your pieces, both new and old, with an unexpected twist. Redesign is about personalizing your spaces, so that they represent who you are and the way you want to live, reflecting YOUR very own taste.

What Can a Redesign do for Me?
A well done redesign can make you feel different. Interior redesign is about reinvention or, realignment. Because of this, a redesign can help to lift your mood and the way you feel within your home.

Redesign is also a solution to “waiting on the budget”. A good redesign helps establish the best placement for your furnishings and accessories, allowing you to position furnishings where they will work best. If you feel your pieces are old or worn and are waiting on your budget to be replaced, you can use them temporarily as “placeholders”, keeping the spot warm for your new pieces to arrive as your budget allows. Interior Redesign is your ticket to a more beautiful home in record time.
A redesign may result in improving not-so-good furniture and accessory placement, or it may result in making a good placement feel and look a whole lot better. Either way, redesign will make your home a much more pleasant place to be.

Who Will Do My Redesign?
You can hire a professional redesigner, or you can attempt the make-over yourself, perhaps with the help of a friend. Redesigning can be fun, so think of it as an adventure and not a chore. Many furniture stores, like ours also offer redesign services, so consider taking advantage of this if it is offered to you.

What Goes On During A Redesign?
Sometimes redesign involves “thinning out” a space by removing some furniture and accessories such as bulky or tattered pieces, or items that fight the look you are trying to create. At other times it requires adding pieces to the space to help establish a specific style.

Here is how a redesign works. The redesigner (this may be you or a professional consultant, or both) will first determine what the function of the space will be. In other words, what the area will be used for, such as reading, playing board games, entertaining, relaxing, etc. Then the redesigner will decide what the desired mood of the room is going to be. Will the space be upbeat and energizing, or calm and soothing.

In many redesigns, EVERYTHING is removed from the room so that bare bones of the area can be viewed and the new arrangement of the space can be configured. However, you can leave a very heavy or bulky piece in place, such as an entertainment center or large sofa, if you know for certain the piece will remain in that same position. Many redesigners insist that you remove all of the pieces and start from “scratch”. The benefit of this approach is that you can really see the condition of each piece, and you can better determine if you want to keep it or replace it, either immediately or at some point in the future. In addition, by removing a piece, you may surprise yourself by finding a new placement for it that never occurred to you before.

As the furniture and accessories are removed, they are placed in a holding area, usually another room or large entryway. Now that the room is empty, you or your redesigner can repair tiny holes in the walls and touch up paint when possible.

With a fresh perspective, the redesigner puts the pieces back into the room, from the largest furniture piece to the smallest, and then adds decorative accessories. What makes redesign so much fun is that the redesigner can insert brand new pieces and accessories into the space or “shop” other rooms and areas of the home for additional options.

How Is Interior Redesign Different From Home Staging?
Many people confuse the terms REDESIGN and STAGING. While both concepts use similar principles of design, they differ in purpose and result.

Redesign involves personalizing a space for maximum living comfort for the homeowner. Staging involves de-personalizing a space to create a product that will appeal to a broad audience of potential home buyers.

In a redesign, personal photos and special pieces that are meaningful to the homeowner are incorporated into a room, and the color selections appeal personally to that homeowner. In staging, personal items like photos, awards, and other pieces that are personally meaningful to the homeowner are taken out of the space so spectators can imagine themselves living there.

Redesign is done when the homeowner wants to live in the home, and live well, while staging is done when a homeowner wants to move out of a home.

What If I Don’t Own A Lot Of Attractive Furnishings?
Redesigners are savvy at combining different home accessories in new ways, and using skill with design principles to give unexpected items a new twist. They can make a space look like it has a whole new face. Many people can benefit from purchasing a few new items to “perk up” the space. A lot of redesigners will use “placeholders” to fill in an area that desperately needs something. This placeholder can be replaced with a new, more attractive piece later on as the budget allows. For example, you might use a rocking chair as a placeholder in a space where a new recliner will eventually go, or use an existing lamp to “keep the seat warm” for a newer, more stylish lamp that must come later. Other examples include using a picture to temporarily take the spot where a new mirror will be placed, or a round side table in a bedroom where a nicer night stand will later be positioned. The main point is to be patient with yourself, and don’t feel pressured to buy all new furniture right away. Replace pieces as your budget allows. In the meantime, placeholders allow you to experience the general effect of your redesigned space as you wait for your “dream” pieces to materialize.

Can A Homeowner With  Little Skill Easily Add To
The Results Of A Redesign?
Absolutely. Homeowners can easily change out older items such as mirrors, coffee tables, lamps, area rugs, and side tables over time by placing new pieces in the exact same space. It is common that as people live in their beautiful and newly redesigned rooms, they want to “go all the way” over time and replace specific items with newer or higher quality pieces, to enrich the rooms, improve quality of living, pull colors and finishes together in a harmonious way, and get the full effect of the new placement.

What Principles I Can Use To Do My Own Redesign?
If you decide to tackle a one day redesign yourself, You can use the tips I am going to share with you to get you going in a clear direction. There are three main principles to follow for a good redesign, and they are:

1) Establish a focal point.

2) Position the furniture in relation to the focal point.

3) Accessorize well.

Each of these topics will be presented in depth in future seminars. For now though, here are a few quick points on each topic:

1) Establish A Focal Point: The focal point is the area of emphasis in a room and sets the stage for the rest of the design. It is the design element that immediately draws your attention and the area that all the other elements relate to. Most of the time, you will establish your focal point with the largest piece of furniture (other than the sofa) on the dominate wall (the one you notice first when entering the room). All furnishings will be positioned either facing the focal point or directly relating to it. Celebrate it and “Play IT Up”. Embellish it using a mix of color, scale, texture, and balance in a harmonious arrangement.

2) Position Furniture In Relation To the Focal Point: After the focal point is set, you will normally arrange the next largest piece of furniture opposite and directly facing the focal point for balance. Most of the furniture will face the focal point either straight on or angled. In living areas, place seating in a “U” shape or a variation such as a “V” shape. Other than your focal point pieces, furniture should be pulled away from the walls and “float” in the room for added depth. Create conversation groups for 5-6 people to sit comfortably, especially in large rooms. Keep chair and sofa heights within 5 inches of each other. Allow 3-4 feet for traffic in and out of the room and 2.5-3 feet within the room. Each seat should have a table within reach, and side table heights should be roughly within 3” of the arm of the chairs they serve. Have a mix of hard and soft surfaces for interest.

3) Accessorize Well: When accessorizing, remember that simple is best. Don’t clutter your display areas. Use just enough accessories to add color, height, and interest to a particular area. Balance scale and weight so that objects relate well to each other. Always match wide spaces with wide accessories, narrow with narrow, and tall with tall, and leave “breathing room” around the items for a peaceful display. Use a variety of heights, textures, shapes, colors, and sizes to enhance your arrangements on table tops and shelves. Mix horizontal lines with vertical lines, and round shapes to balance an abundance of right angles. Group like items such as picture frames or figurines together. Don’t spread a collection over a room.

Groups of 3 work very well. Don’t hang your artwork too high. Start with the center of the piece at 5 feet up from the floor and adjust from there. Create depth by layering plants behind chairs or tables, and finish off the space with a great fragrance.

A Call To Action: Now you are ready for redesign! I always like to encourage my audiences to “TAKE ACTION”. Here is your assignment. When you go home, pick one area in your home that could use new life. This is usually a space where the furniture placement really does not feel “right”, or an area that is overly cluttered with “stuff”.

Try your hand at repositioning a few pieces of furniture. First, create a focal point. Next, position the seating groupings or large furniture pieces in relation to the focal point, and finally, accessorize by using your most prized and attractive pieces and remove the rest. You will begin to feel better as you see your spaces take on new life.

Conclusion
Well, this concludes our talk on Interior Redesign. Remember, don’t reinvent the wheel, just find a way to realign it! I will be available to answer questions and give you suggestions after this session. I hope you have enjoyed learning about redesign. I certainly have enjoyed sharing.”

Editor’s Note: Quotation marks were used only at the beginning and end of the Sample Script section for ease of presentation.
Next issue

Lesson #9 – And Then There was Light: Turn on Good Design Through Lighting


Margarett DeGange, M.Ed. is a Business and Design Coach in the Home Fashions Industry. She creates and delivers custom training programs for managed businesses and their sales consultants to help them communicate better with customers and increase sales and profits. Margarett is a Writer and Professional Speaker, and the President of The DeGangi Group and The DeGangi School of Interior Decoration, with both on sight and on-line courses in Interior Decorating, Marketing, and Redesign. For almost 20 years she has helped individual and managed business owners in the interior fashions and decorating industries to earn more while fully enjoying the process. Her website is www.DeGangiGroup.com. Send email and questions to Margarett DeGange at Margarett@furninfo.com

Furniture World is the oldest, continuously published trade publication in the United States. It is published for the benefit of furniture retail executives. Print circulation of 20,000 is directed primarily to furniture retailers in the US and Canada.  In 1970, the magazine established and endowed the Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library (www.furniturelibrary.com) in High Point, NC, now a public foundation containing more than 5,000 books on furniture and design dating from 1620. For more information contact editor@furninfo.com.