The pandemic has impacted every industry I can think of, and the home industry is no exception. In just a year (albeit one that has felt like several), we have seen major changes to the interior design industry, the decorating industry, and other home-related fields, like renovating or building.
As a homeowner, you may not have witnessed any of these changes first hand yet, or maybe you have. Either way, now that we have become experts at navigating this new terrain (and now that we have seen that these changes are here to stay), I feel that it’s important to share them with you.
So, without further ado, here is how the pandemic has impacted our industry and how we are rising to meet these challenges at Journey Home Interiors.
A Sharp Increase in Demand…
We serve people (predominantly women) who have arrived at the point where it’s time to get the house they deserve to live beautifully in, a home that feels sophisticated and comfortable and reflects their timeless, classic style. Safe to say that the pandemic has increased the number of people who are ready to finally arrive at their forever home.
Spending just a few hours in your home every day is very different from spending weeks on end in the same space. If you found yourself in this situation, I bet that you realised your home wasn’t quite the supportive dwelling you imagined it to be. In fact, my husband and I started our own bathroom renovation right around the beginning of the pandemic last year… but more on that in another post.
In any case, when the pandemic set in, a lot of us became dissatisfied with our homes, desperately in need of change, and finally in possession of the motivation, time, and maybe some extra cash flow (from all the vacations we haven’t been taking) to start making some changes. No surprises here—demand skyrocketed! Unfortunately, the market also saw…
… and an Equally Steep Decrease in Supply
From the onset of the pandemic until now, the supply side of the design and home industry has faced shortages in raw materials, a decrease in the availability of labor (social distancing has decreased productivity in workrooms and factories worldwide), and an onslaught of shipping delays.
We find ourselves checking and rechecking repeatedly to follow-up on orders. I have seen fabric backorders take 5 months as opposed to the 3-4 weeks that would have been considered a “long” lead time pre-Covid. (Fortunately, custom rug orders placed last year came in right on time—small win!) We also have found ourselves needing to provide split deliveries and installations to keep projects moving forward.
These changes are entirely out of our hands and have all been very inconvenient to clients, not to mention a huge drain on our time that we wouldn’t otherwise need to spend. Thankfully, our clients have been extremely patient (if that is you, thank you for that!).
How Journey Home Interiors is Rising to the Challenge
I tell you all of this not to winge, but to let you know what we’re doing about it. I have decided to tackle the issue, not only to cope, but to thrive and even up-level our services, some of which may affect you. There are four ways we are going about it…
1. Making Calculated Product Selections
I’ve always been of the philosophy that it is better to wait for the right thing than to purchase the wrong thing because it arrives more quickly. However, with lead times burgeoning out, we will be shifting our selections to try where possible to choose items that are in stock, or we will work solely with our own network of suppliers who can give us clear lead times.
Of course, it isn’t always possible for special custom orders, and even stock lines can go out of stock, but we can try, right? If nothing else, one of the greatest benefits of working with Journey Home is that you are not the one calling the supplier every week to find out where your items are. If you are one of our Custom Decorating clients, we do that for you—and believe me, it’s worth the investment solely to not have that kind of stress in your life!
2. Building Up Our Staff to Better Serve You
I am building a team to not only cope with these changes but also to streamline our processes. With the additional ordering time our projects are now taking, we must up-level our services to keep projects moving forward smoothly.
For example, did you know that pre-Covid it took me an average of 30 hours on the backend per room to manage the ordering and procurement process? You don’t see this, as we don’t bill for this time. Instead, it is included in the cost of your furnishings purchased through Journey Home, and I have to say again, it is worth every cent. (Try getting that level of help online!)
That said, as with any form of hiring, it does take some time to get new members fully integrated. This means that we are going to slow down before we can speed up, so we appreciate your patience while we make this transition.
While we’re at it, why not meet the new talent behind Journey Home?
If you attended our huge sale in January, you might have met Aline. Pronounced “A leen ie”. Bubbly Aline was such a dynamo and a great help to me on the sale that I had to grab her to keep working with Journey Home.
She is a graduate designer from NSW Billie Boyd Design College and is also an expert home organiser. Aline’s role will be to manage our custom decorating projects, and she will also be sourcing online selections for our Decorating in Stages clients. If that’s you, you will be hearing a lot from Aline moving forward!
Lorraine is a Senior Interior Designer and Decorator and comes with many years of experience. She has worked on American homes during her time in Washington, so she understands the Journey Home aesthetic of classic, timeless design. She has lovely taste and will be a great fit with our team.
Lorraine and I will share our Custom Decorating projects, and I will be relying on her keen eye to assist me with current client projects, too. Lorraine has more experience than I do when it comes to selecting furnishings from online retail sources (I am typically focussed on the high-end, trade-only suppliers for Silver and Gold decorating budgets), so she will add this new angle for retail-based selections for our Decorating in Stages services.
3. Improving Project Management for Increased Efficiency
With more team members, longer projects, and more project management to undertake, we had to improve our processes with a Project Management System. We now use Asana to organise our team, our projects, follow up and track client orders, and more. I am finding Asana to be a power tool. In fact, it is not design specific so anyone can use it for their business or personal life.
You may not see this change directly impact your project, but believe me when I say that it will indirectly make everything smoother and more efficient!
4. Scheduling Product Ordering Days in Advance
To streamline our service to clients so that we can be on time and stay on time, we are going to time block, not only design work, but ordering time as well. Given it takes 15 hours to place orders for a single room, we’ll need to schedule that time in, so that we don’t let people down or end up locked into “catch-up” mode.
If you have already done a project with us, or you’re in the middle of one, this won’t affect you. However, for pressing go on new orders, we will need to allocate a block of time into our schedule to order your room, which is currently about 2-3 weeks booked in advance. We can talk and work with you during projects to work to a project timeline. Having Aline three days per week is going to be a big help, too.
5. Aligning Some of Our Services with More Retail-Based Offerings
Offering “pick my brain” and “online retail-sourced decorating” is a shift for Journey Home. In addition to providing access to our trade-only, high-end suppliers, we also provide the public perception of what a decorator does: ordering retail. This is a simple but valuable service for the larger majority of clients, those who prefer not to invest in Silver, Gold or Platinum level decorating. (See my Furnishings Budgeting Guide for more info on these tiers.)
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6. Launching the Journey Home Decorating Club
The other big thing that I am doing to help more people reach their goals of living beautifully in a classic and timeless forever home is creating the Journey Home Decorating Club. You may have seen mention of the Founding Members test group last year. The test group has been a wealth of information on where people get stuck most when it comes to decorating their homes.
I have developed the Club to include both courses and coaching materials to help house-proud women not only enjoy learning DIY-decorating, but to keep taking action. Having new team members and streamlining our services will free me up to create great content for the club, and I am really excited about sharing everything I know with our Club members! Stay tuned for more on that.
Well, that’s it from me. Quite a lot going on, isn’t there? If you have any questions about your project, my door is open if you want to chat with me. Please book a spot on my calendar here.
Until then, I can’t wait to continue serving you and helping you to at last, live beautifully.