What Level is Your Design Business?

Power Talk Friday: Katie McFarlan: The Client Experience Starts with Processes

Episode 678 of A Well-Designed Business®

  Today with Katie McFarlan:

Welcome to a Well-Designed Business. Welcome to a Well-Designed Business. The client experience is something we all think about. How do we elevate the experience for our clients so that they feel like we truly care about them without making ourselves crazy by bending over backwards for each client? The answer just might lie in your processes. Today, I’m joined by Katie McFarlan of Dakota Design Company. Katie works with designers to build a strong client experience through streamlined processes, smooth operations, and clear expectations. She’s sharing with us how defined processes lead to a luxury client experience that helps you and your clients.

Pick it apart:

  • [2:19] Katie shares why she’s so passionate about the client experience and why it’s so important for designers. 

    [9:13] Katie explains how she helps clients uncover their processes—even if they haven’t formally defined them. 

    [16:24] LuAnn and Katie dive into what the client experience actually entails. 

    [25:49] Katie discusses how the backend of the business shapes the client experience. 

    [46:30] Katie talks about the common hangups she sees with her client’s processes. 

LuAnn and Katie McFarlan’s Ah-Ha moments:

“Every time there’s a new delay or a new charge, if you have already set the expectation of ‘Hey, this is what’s going to happen, I’m going to be there with you every step of the way,’ it allows the client to just enjoy it rather than be terrified the entire time. I think having the client experience nailed down is so key for businesses that have a long deliverable or lead time for delivering their final service.” -Katie McFarlan


“The ROI is not just that it benefits your clients, but also that it shows just how much your company is doing for them, and that speaks to the value and how you’re charging what you charge.” -Katie McFarlan


“You’re not necessarily imposing a process or a system on any one business. You’re taking the existing processes and systems (whether they are formalized or not), whatever individual process a firm might have, and you’re analyzing it and saying, ‘How do we announce, describe, explain, or give collateral information on that phase so that the customer feels informed and cared for.” -LuAnn Nigara


“I think the biggest takeaway that I have is that the client experience is everything you do, not just a thank you note. So often we throw the word “client experience” around when we’re talking about the subtleties and the niceness and the pretty that we bring to the relationships, but a really terrific client experience is one where the process feels organized and systemized, and the client understands their role in it and can know what’s coming next and see what it is that you’re doing on their behalf the whole time.” -LuAnn Nigara

More About Katie McFarlan:

As a former wedding and event planner with 16 years of experience in operations and project management, I love using both my creative and analytical sides to come up with solutions that work for my clients. With my intimate knowledge of project management and the entrepreneurial mindset, I know what it takes to get behind the scenes operations running smoothly so businesses can grow in a professional way.

Today I help luxury interior designers and wedding planners who are buried in business operations get back to doing the creative work they love. I create and improve their processes and set up systems so they can streamline their workload, move their business forward, and free up their time to focus on the things that matter most.

Connect with Katie McFarlan:




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A Big THANK YOU to Today’s Podcast Sponsors:

Kravet: the industry leader in the to-the-trade home furnishings industry. Kravet just recently unveiled their newest collection, Barry Lantz canvas to cloth. Check it out today and use coupon code AWDB10 to save 10% off any one purchase of Kravet Fabric, Wallpaper or Trim.


Mydoma Studio is the workflow software that organizes your design projects from beginning to end saving you time, money, and keeping everything in one place. And just for listeners of A Well-Designed Business, you can get 20% off Mydoma for 3 months! Visit mydomastudio.com/awelldesignedbusiness to learn more.


Other shows mentioned:

#616 Joann Kandrac and Kelly Kole: Onboarding New Interior Design Clients

What Level is Your Design Business?