Ask Dixie – How to Hire an Interior Design Assistant, Dealing with Scope Creep, & What’s coming for Mydoma

June 27, 2022

This Edition of Ask Dixie Includes

Welcome to this edition of Ask Dixie! Ask Dixie is our regularly reoccurring column where you can ask our resident expert, NCIDQ-certified residential interior designer, and Mydoma Product Manager, Dixie Willard any burning questions you might have about Mydoma, your interior design process, client issues, or anything else you might want an experienced and talented designer to weigh in on!

If you have a question for Dixie, be sure to either to head over to our Facebook group and add it to our “Ask Dixie” thread, DM us on social, or email Dixie at askdixie@mydomastudio.com – and we’ll try to get to it in a future column!

What's new at Mydoma?

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Becky:

What is Mydoma working on now?

Oh, my gosh! We are working on some really exciting new features! I can’t give too much away at the moment, but we’ve already mentioned that moodboards are getting some fun new updates. Not to mention we’re working on several other features that will be game changers!

How can interior designers deal with scope creep?

Dana:

Hey Dixie! It seems like whenever I go to visit this one client I have during their project, they’re always trying to add “one more thing while you’re here” to the scope of what we’ve agreed on. I’m bad at saying no, so I have been really accommodating, but I’m wondering if you have any advice to either prevent something like this happening, or, how to best say no.

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I love scope creep! The best way to manage scope creep is to have a plan for it so you can say yes.

I handle scope creep essentially the same way I do a new project.

  1. Discovery – In this case, it’s really just them telling me they want one more thing and me either saying let’s schedule a time to chat more about it, or (if I can) making time while I’m already there. If I can accommodate the consultation without having to make a separate trip, I’m all for it!
  2. Initial consultation – This may be much shorter than the very first consultation, but I still need to find out the details of what they want!
  3. Proposal of fees, schedule, and scope – I have them sign a new scope agreement and pay the design fee before work begins and I don’t always start right away. I stick to my project load and schedule it further out if needed.


It can be a little harder to do when you haven’t set the expectations for the process from the beginning, but a simple “I’m really slammed right now so let me check my project load and get back to you with a proposal for the new scope” goes a long way.

How to hire an interior design assistant, and what to look for?

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Hillary:

I’m hiring my very first design assistant, and I’m nervous about delegating and letting go of some of the control of my projects. Any thoughts on how to get over it, and maybe what I should be looking for in a design assistant?

My first question is what sort of tasks are you planning to have your assistant doing and how does that list compare to the tasks you actually need to have someone take over for you? In my case, I didn’t need help with the actual design work, I really needed help with the admin side of things. Keeping files up to date, following up with vendors, replying to inquiry emails, returning samples, etc. A design assistant sounds great, but if the things that are slowing you down the most, you may actually want to hire an administrative assistant first.

When it comes to letting go of some of the control, the best way to make sure your assistant meets the quality you expect is to create standard operating procedures. This can be as simple as creating a series of videos as you go about your daily activities where you talk out loud as you do them, giving the standards you expect and the reasoning behind what you’re doing as you do. 

Loom videos are great for computer-related tasks, videos on your phone can help with things that are more hands-on. Want a text version? The paid version of Loom lets you get transcripts of your videos and videos uploaded to YouTube auto-generate captions that can be copied and pasted into a document. (Having your new hire go through and create the documents from the videos isn’t a bad way for them to get familiar with your processes.)

Templates also make it incredibly easy for your new assistant to respond to emails, set up new projects, get orders or invoices ready, and so on, without you having to worry that they won’t get your brand voice just right or will skip something important. I’m a strong advocate for templates whether you have any additional staff or not, but having them in place for your assistant will make both of your lives easier.

Some additional questions from Becky that we didn’t cover in the video:

Can we please have Xero integrated?
We want to focus first on the areas where we can make the biggest differences in your design business. Having said that, we know this is something that’s been asked for a number of times. I can’t promise any specifics, but we are investigating options for integrating with different accounting software.

How is the app coming along, and will it have all the same features?
It’s moving right along! Right now, we’re doing some fine tuning to make sure using it will be a great experience for you. All of the features currently on the web browser version will be available on the app.

Thanks to everyone who submitted their questions for this edition of Ask Dixie!

If you have a question for Dixie, be sure to either to head over to our Facebook group and add it to our “Ask Dixie” thread, DM us on social, or email Dixie at askdixie@mydomastudio.com – and we’ll try to get to it in a future column!

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