What Level is Your Design Business?

Denise McGaha – Deadline Driven Design

Episode 10 of A Well-Designed Business®

Denise and her team deliver diverse and fashionable designs for those who live on the fast track. Her company specializes in turnkey, concierge-level services—in as little as 90 days! They execute high-end interior design projects with their organization and signature deadline-driven design solutions. Denise honed her business practices, sophisticated methodology, and solid business acumen while working with Neiman-Marcus. You will be impressed with what she accomplishes with her relatively small staff. Join us for more from Denise!

In this episode, you’ll hear the following:

  • Denise’s business is built on a three-tiered philosophy: Delivered in 90 days, Designed in a Day, and Designer Full-Time. Stay tuned to learn more!
  • Denise’s full-service design came first, as she found a niche for people who want things quickly.
  • “Doing the job faster means getting your money faster!”
  • The niche was needed in the industry; Denise asked, “How can we brand it and make it happen?”
  • Her systems are driven by project plans, timelines, and a very scheduled process.
  • There are multiple team members working on multiple projects.
  • Organization and precise communication are essential for the Delivered in 90 Days option!
  • The client has to be ready to make decisions and move fast, just as Denise’s team does.
  • Every decision, order, and email has a deadline attached to it to keep the process moving.
  • This business requires a strong team who are ready to work within the timelines, and requires respect and trust from clients.
  • Surprisingly, Denise accomplishes this with just THREE employees!
  • The initial timeline is 2-4 weeks until presentation is made to the client, and then the team hits the ground running when a contract is secured.
  • Denise operates in other locations outside the Dallas area, but those are more difficult and present greater limitations.
  • Not every client comes to Denise for the 90-day timeline; many come for the design quality.
  • For other designers who question this process, Denise asks, “How much time did you spend and how much did you bill for? What if you compressed the time? How much time is wasted from week to week?”
  • The Designer Full-time option is a complete project, with construction, furnishings, etc. These are large projects that take 1-2 years to complete.
  • Denise implements a screening process for clients so that she can understand their needs and the scope of the project.
  • She gives great advice for accepting clients and knowing which clients are NOT a good fit; it all comes down to chemistry!
  • Designed in a Day gives Denise the opportunity to get out of the office for a day to help a client who wants a quick update with what they already have in place. 
  • Denise runs down the entire process of her Designed in a Day option, which is an unusual niche that fosters a face to face relationship and connection for the future.
  • Denise explains her partnership with Curated Kravet, the sponsor of our podcast. They are one of her favorite vendors, and she explains why!
  • Denise designed vignettes for them with their fabrics and in-stock items. You can view it online!
  • Denise’s advice for designers:
    • Make a plan for all that you do and your processes.
    • See where you can be very, very efficient.
    • Work smarter, not harder.
    • There is no need to fret over decisions.
  • Denise explains her upcoming project Show House in New Orleans, already in the design process!





What Level is Your Design Business?