What Level is Your Design Business?

Jens + Marlys Wiegand

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  • in reply to: The Power of the Right Mindset #19196
    jens marlyswiegand

    Most of Vita’s list of sentiments sounds very familiar to me, too.

    My biggest concerns that currently are holding me back are
    – Hiring the wrong person for the office manager position.
    – Feeling overwhelmed by the thought of implementing the technology and not having the necessary technical support to fix problems quickly.

    Julie, I’m so sorry about your loss! YOU are a very compassionate and strong person. Please take good care of yourself.

    Ben, a great coach once told me, “Fake it until you make it”.
    You may not be a window treatment expert yet; neither was I in 1999. Fortunately, Marlys, my wife, specialized early in her design career in custom window coverings. I’ve learned a lot from her and others by osmosis.
    My tip: surround yourself with a network of knowledgeable industry experts, ask lots of questions, and YOU will be there in no time.
    This group is a great start, and there is always Exciting Windows!. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Now I’m super excited to learn about Vita’s secret sauce!

    in reply to: Money, money, money….Must be funny… #19194
    jens marlyswiegand

    Many thoughts about “Bookkeeping vs. Finances vs. Wealth” have gone through my mind, but I find it hard to put them into words…

    The wealth that comes to my mind immediately is the “wealth of knowledge and experience” we acquire during our lifetime. Don’t get me wrong, money is an essential tool for growth, but it has not been OUR primary focus.

    We feel we charge a premium price for the “full service” and personal attention we provide. Marlys has found her calling and I support her as much as I can. Our clients believe our prices are worth the beauty we create and the peace of mind they experience. It’s a win-win for all, including our wonderful contract workrooms and installers, and our vendors!

    I realize that I will need a bit of professional help to become the CFO of our business and our life. Even with a background in banking and finance, I feel I grasp the big picture of our financials but probably not all the fine points. We just started working with a new bookkeeper. It makes me hopeful that we will soon be able to take the next step and switch to a new accountant who understands our business well and gives us more guidance to run an efficient and more profitable company.

    Going from two self-employed owners to hiring our first employee, an office manager, is not an easy decision for us. I need help to make a timely and financially intelligent call on when to hire that key person.

    in reply to: What comes up for you when I say this… #19064
    jens marlyswiegand

    Sorry, I posted this twice.

    in reply to: What comes up for you when I say this… #19063
    jens marlyswiegand

    Wow, thanks for the inspiration, everybody!

    For me, as a “recovering European,” a right-sized lifestyle is an essential aspect of living a balanced life. Rosemarie mentioned that she and her family downsized to a smaller home, requiring less time and energy to keep up. That is part of our plan also to have more free time to do the things we enjoy (other than work).

    I agree it is wise to get help and outsource specific tasks that take up a lot of our time and can be completed by someone else.
    There is some strong resistance in me to farm out laundry and house cleaning. I feel my mom is coming through strongly. ๐Ÿ™‚

    As “foodies,” we prepare and eat healthy, organic meals at home. Fortunately, Marlys likes to cook, but it takes a lot of preparation and time! Having wholesome meals cooked and frozen twice a month by a local chef could be a big time-saver for us and possibly worth the expense!

    Back to our business responsibilities, we already outsourced our payroll and bookkeeping. They can do it faster and better than we could, and our accountant and I keep an eye on the results.

    I’m grateful for living in this incredible country and do not take the freedom of choices we have here for granted.

    in reply to: Penny for your thoughts? #18913
    jens marlyswiegand

    Hi Mary, thank you for recommending Kate the Socialite for blog posts to us. We have heard more good things, so it’s about time I reach out. ๐Ÿ™‚

    About giving a ballpark estimate and asking for a retainer, here’s how we do it…
    We usually start with a 30 to 60-minute phone consultation with prospects and clients. They email their photos to us beforehand, so we are better prepared for the conversation. We then ask a lot of questions to understand their needs and wants clearly. To help them establish an investment range, we offer a ballpark estimate over the phone. Sometimes we need to call them back once we’ve figured out the price range. We ALWAYS do this in person to get a reaction!! NEVER by email, voicemail, or fax! Our reasoning is simple: We are happy to help them gain more clarity about the cost of ordering custom-made window treatments. It should never feel like an “exercise in pricing” for us. We want to address any objections right then and there, find out who the decision-makers are, and help them move forward if they are ready.
    We are never hard-selling, that’s just not us, but we do take the lead and ask for a commitment. The goal is to create a win-win situation! We offer to save clients and designers time and aggravation, solve the many challenges and details of their custom window treatment project, fabricate, install, and finish the job on budget, and guarantee their satisfaction. That is a tall order, we all know that!
    As professionals, we feel we need to get paid for our time and stop running all over town doing “favors”. So we do ask clients for a retainer, usually around $250, or 10% of the estimated project cost, before our window fashion design specialist visits their home with samples and does a final remeasure. Most often, they give her a check when she meets with them. Our retainer is non-refundable, but we apply it in full toward an order placed within 60 days of the initial consultation.

    It was a great class today, and I can’t wait to review it.

    in reply to: Penny for your thoughts? #18889
    jens marlyswiegand

    Dear Vita and Classmates,

    We had our first CV vaccinations last week and are looking forward to being fully protected by early June.
    I’m very excited about what you have shared with us so far, and I expect it will take time and assistance to implement these processes and systems.
    As a former pilot, I love to follow checklists and flows. That will be the fun part for me.
    I’m a bit concerned about how to master the learning curve ahead of us with Airtable and related software. We have asked our IT person to commit to a certain amount of hours each month to offer technical support. Maybe I’m overthinking this, but we are very busy at work right now and need to keep our engine humming.

    What’s keeping me up at night (literally) is the task of writing intelligent blog posts for our website. It takes a lot of energy, research, and time. Does anyone have a suggestion on how to accomplish this a bit more easily?

    I’m sure Vita is saving more awesome content for the second half of our class. We will all have to put her on speed dial. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    in reply to: Penny for your thoughts? #18888
    jens marlyswiegand

    Hello Peggy, I hear you.

    As retailers, we ask for photos and rough measurements from potential clients to be able to give them a ballpark-estimate. It’s fast, there is a reaction, and it seems to help clients to decide on an investment range. When they are ready to go ahead, we ask for a retainer to come to the home with samples and do the final remeasure. Then we prepare a detailed proposal (like Vita’s detailed estimate) proposal) and present it with our contract. I can see how our process is not so easy to teach to an associate who does not have a lot of window covering design experience, but maybe that is just in our heads.

    If I remember correctly, Peggy, you are a to-the-trade workroom. Do you have a price list and do your designers know how to use it?
    Or do the designers expect you to price projects for them? It would be interesting for me to understand how you work.

    Thanks and see you on Thursday,

    in reply to: Process Flows & PMS :-) #18801
    jens marlyswiegand

    Just like Brook, we spent Tuesday and Wednesday at the very inspiring Exciting Windows (EW) conference. The only challenge is, where do we start to make changes and apply at least 80% of the valuable ideas? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Since Marlys and I are not yet able to clone ourselves, our goal is to grow our retail business sustainably. It is becoming very clear to me that the process flows and PMS Vita showed us will help to stay organized. I love the idea of getting away from paper files!
    We really appreciate Vita’s offer to share her Airtable template with this entire class! It will be an awesome starting point for us, and we will be able to add to it to make it our own. If it means hiring an Airtable consultant, I’m happy to do so. Ideally, our future office manager (or a capable VA to get us started) should be able to help make this happen.

    One of the “nuggets” from the EW conference:
    As you are going through your day, ask yourself “which tasks could I hire out to a subcontractor or a less expensive service provider?”

    See you soon.

    in reply to: The WHY behind your goal #18659
    jens marlyswiegand

    More “WHY”…

    What does a healthy balance between work and personal life look like for us:
    – Four nine-hour days per week of focused work in and on our business (= 36 to 40 work hours).
    – We schedule all client appointments (virtual or live) on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (9 am to 6 pm), Thursdays and Fridays (afternoons), and every other week on Saturday (if ever necessary).
    – Having two 3-day weekends per month from April through September.
    – Gardening, exercising, hiking in the Pacific NW, seeing friends, and having quiet time reading, writing, or making music.
    – Taking a 10 to 14-day vacation or stay-cation once every quarter (= four times per year).
    – Enjoying Camping trips, visiting friends and family.
    – Learning Spanish in preparation for a trip to South America.
    – Making time to have friends or family stay with us in Oregon.
    – Not spending as much time in front of a computer as we currently do.
    – We like the work we do, and we do want to develop an optional exit strategy.
    – Our ultimate goal is to stay flexible, healthy, interested, and open-minded.

    Jens & Marlys

    in reply to: Week 1: A-HA Moments #18569
    jens marlyswiegand

    “Which activities create 80% of your results?” Good question, Vita.

    – Following the script from the 7 step selling system from WCU to qualify clients, identify their needs, and talk about an investment range.
    – Offering a complimentary 30 minute phone or video consultation to potential clients is a real time saver and prepares everyone for the in-home consultation.
    – Clearly communicating what we do and do not do.
    – Weekly meeting with our Networking Group (normally: in person, now: virtual).
    – Realizing that we need to take regular breaks and recharge to be of service to our clients.

    in reply to: The WHY behind your goal #18489
    jens marlyswiegand

    These goals are essential and motivate us to systematize:
    1. we want our business to run smoothly 80% of the time,
    2. be able to take a vacation without the concern to return to chaos,
    3. have an exit plan = a sell-able business,
    4. know that the business we built will continue,
    5. and new owners will take good care of our loyal clients.

    Our WHY is to find a healthy balance between work and personal life.

    in reply to: Week 1: A-HA Moments #18488
    jens marlyswiegand

    When Vita mentioned the 80/20 rule (Pareto Principle), it made me stop and think about which of our activities are creating the best results. Having systems in place that cause approximately 80% of our business to run smoothly sounds like an attainable, clever goal.

    Jens [YENZ]

Viewing 12 posts - 1 through 12 (of 12 total)
What Level is Your Design Business?