Written by: Kate Greunke, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
As an interior designer, you are bombarded with online tools that you’re told to use, but how many of them actually cater to your unique industry? Whether you’re selling in-person design services or working virtually, you know your design business has pain points and needs that other service-based businesses simply don’t have. That’s why you should prioritize using the tools and resources that were developed with your exact business type in mind.
I’m sharing my top five online tools and resources for interior designers, though this list could be much longer. I’ve personally spoken to and interviewed the founders and CEOs of each of these resources and, if I were a designer, I’d certainly be investigating how I could use them.
Best tool for managing interior design revenue and budgets
Michele Williams is the CEO and founder of Metrique Solutions. As a business advisor to entrepreneurs with mixed or “complicated” relationships with money, she knew there had to be a simpler, more aesthetically-pleasing way to analyze and truly understand financial data.
“What you don’t know won’t hurt you,” doesn’t apply to business growth, and many of her clients were suffering from this lack of knowledge and the lack of confidence that follows.
Metrique Solutions started as a spreadsheet that Michele gave to her private coaching clients. It was incredibly helpful at increasing profits, not just revenue, in their businesses — but she wanted it to be even easier to use, prettier to look at, and simpler to understand.
Today, Metrique is a full-fledged software platform that can be used by any service-based entrepreneur who wants to grow, scale, and create a legacy business.
Best tool for recruiting top interior design talent and creating processes for them to follow
Maybe you would love to hire another person (or your first person) but you aren’t sure which position to hire first, how much to pay them, where to find them, or how to train them. Meanwhile, you run around like a headless chicken in your business, trying to wear all the hats and be all things to all people…and you’re miserable.
Wouldn’t you love to know where to find the next person your business needs in order to grow? And wouldn’t you be even more relieved to know that your hiring needs could be satisfied just by adopting better systems and processes?
If you are concerned that a lack of processes or people is holding back your business from the success you know it can achieve, you need to consider Behind the Design as your next go-to resource.
Jessica Harling is the founder of Behind the Design, a people operations company that enthusiastically collaborates with leadership to build dream teams. From recruiting to training and process development, their intuition for creating strong emotional connections discovers and nurtures rockstar talent with established streamlined processes that impact the company’s bottom line.
Best tool for interior design order tracking and procurement
In the interior design world, delays and backorders happen, even on a regular day. Add into the mix both economic and political global upheaval — with a dash of supply chain issues — and you've got yourself a cocktail that isn't all that easy to swallow.
How do you keep track of which products or materials are ordered, en route, delayed, or delivered? You might have to hire a team member for that position or somehow squeeze it into your already-full schedule. Or...you might want to work with a specialized company.
Mariah Samost is the founder of MaterLog, an online platform that makes procurement tracking efficient and easy.
Prior to launching MaterLog, Mariah focused on a unique combination of tech, law, finance, and construction experience. She spent the past number of years in construction technology (working with design-manufacture build companies in the multi-family residential and single-family home spaces) and prior to that, worked in real estate private equity and with startups in the Bay Area. She went to school at Columbia University and grad school at Oxford for law and finance.
The purpose behind MaterLog is to take the pain and annoyance out of procurement tracking so interior designers and contractors can focus on more important things — like increasing revenue and getting projects completed on time.
Best tool for selling designer furniture, decor and accessories online
As an interior designer, you might feel like the only way to make more money is to work harder and longer and say “yes” to every client – even if their projects or personalities aren’t what you want.
SideDoor presents another way to scale your business by selling trade-only products and earning a 30% average commission on each sale. Just curate a room with beautiful decor, furnishings and accessories, sell all or part of it to your real-life clients or online customers, and get paid. SideDoor handles all customer support, shipping, backorders, and delivery.
You can sell each furniture or decor collection repeatedly by embedding each collection on your website, sharing it on social media, or by making it part of your email marketing strategy.
Best online rendering tool for interior design businesses
If your clients struggle to visualize the interior design ideas you present to them, you know this can result in smaller sales or slower projects, primarily because clients can’t make confident decisions in a timely manner.
What if there was a way to walk your clients through the end result of their designed space — before any labor had begun? Thanks to Beyond BlueprintVR, now you can.
Beyond Blueprint uses virtual reality to merge the worlds of construction, technology, and design by creating a way to walk through your project and fully experience it before it’s even built.
Whether you’re building a house, adding an addition, changing the existing floor plan during a large renovation, creating a new restaurant layout, or something else – Beyond Blueprint was created with the designer’s needs in mind.
Top tips for determining which online tools your design firm should use
As you routinely assess your expenses, you might be wondering whether you're paying too much for the dozens of online tools you use to run your interior design business. Don’t let your online subscriptions pile up or go unattended.
If you've been shelling out too much money every month, ask yourself whether any of your online business tools have…
Free plans or free alternatives you could use instead
No clear purpose in your business
Confuse you, thus going unused
Annual plans that would save significant money versus monthly plans
If tools have overlapping features, keep the one that is the best fit. If you can downgrade your monthly payment to a lesser level or a free version and still get the features you need, consider doing so. If the annual plan makes more sense than the monthly plan, switch up your billing accordingly.
Assess your business expenses and needs on a quarterly basis, at least, to ensure that you are paying for what you need and redirecting your funds to tools that will most benefit your business goals.
Kate Greunke, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Kate Greunke founded Socialite in 2014 as a virtual agency of professional marketing specialists exclusively for the home industry. Kate hosts a marketing podcast, The Kate Show, which is ranked in the top 1.5% of all podcasts globally and available on all podcasting apps. In 2021, Kate was named 20 Under 40 by Window Fashion Vision Magazine. She currently resides in Wisconsin with her husband and two children while managing an international team and extensive client roster.