We're so sorry for the extended absence, juggling this year's Atlanta Symphony Associates Decorators Show House and Gardens AND our project roster has consumed all of our time and energy! With that said, we at Palmer Design Group definitely wanted to make this post count and share some valuable industry advice with you guys.
What to Do and How to Protect Yourselves when working with other design industry "professionals." Whether you're thinking of hiring a "marketing person", P.R., a social media expert, working with an upholsterer for the first time, working with a "friend," a new photographer, a web developer, and any other individual who may approach you and your business with promises of development, growth, profit, exposure etc. If you're paying these people, you have to make it COUNT and hold them ACCOUNTABLE for results!
Here are a few things to consider when consulting with these "professionals"
Do not view asking questions as probing, rude or excessive- you're spending your money with someone you know very little about.
Where did you study? Who have you worked with? How is your relationship with them now? I'd like to see your previous work, websites-built, renderings, marketing profiles, etc. What were the gains from your recent projects for previous clients? What are your proven results? Ask to see EXAMPLES and SAMPLES. Be sure that if it's quacking, it is indeed a duck!
Check References and Backgrounds
It's not likely you'll be able to gather FBI-style information, however making sure you're not being sold a dream that quickly becomes a nightmare should be your priority. "I've done marketing and P.R. for Sue Schmoo Interior Design Firm ASID, IIDA, LEED etc"......that's excellent, now here is when you ask for a profile on Sue Schmoo's marketing/PR campaign and should see that since hiring [said person], Sue Schmoo has garnered X amount more projects, X amount more publications, and X amount more rewards and recognition.
In design world we're all friends and professionals, therefore there should be no harm in contracts and no apprehension. Even for the smallest of services from sending out a few tweets per week or updating your website, a clear and concise contract brings fortitude and legitimacy to a business agreement- even between friends!
Assign Check Points and Progress Reports
This is important for projects and services that may take a while; like building a website, a marketing campaign, advertising, etc. Many of us can be so tied up in our creativity and projects, we take on a laissez-faire approach when we hire out services. Bi-weekly updates, summaries, images, and samples should be presented periodically and signed off on to assure everyone is on the same page and expected results are what's being produced. Also, if you're being billed hourly for a service, don't wait until you receive a bill to inquire about what activities were performed and when; ask for a weekly update so that YOU can assess whether or not time is being spent wisely. Ex. if a web developer is using a free, ready-made template [Squarespace, Wix, etc] for your website and bills you 80 hours; this needs to be addressed immediately as ready-made templates are very easy to maneuver and upload information onto- and should not be taking so long.
You must have your best interest in mind at all times because there are people practicing as professionals who simply have no clue what they're doing, and your time and bank accounts should never be casualties of their trial-and-error approaches to achieving their goals. And hey, there's absolutely no harm in not knowing and wanting to learn, however, in those cases that "service" should be gratis and these professionals should humble themselves and present their services on a trial basis as interns. If they're not able to answer your questions, provide samples of work, references, or are apprehensive about a contract- simply wish them well and refer their services to your arch nemesis! (Just kidding) :)
Have a Powerful Day from Palmer Design Group!