How I Structure My Interior Design Services (And Outsource The Stuff I Don’t Want to Do!)

January 18, 2023

Table of Contents

In this article I’ll share with you an overview of my personal design services and how/when I outsource the tasks I don’t enjoy doing to make more time for the ones I love!

I am a big advocate for doing what you love as a designer, and outsourcing the rest. This is the fastest way to scale your company for the future and the best way to not get burnt out. The network of designers we have in our community (especially now that Mydoma and the eDesign Tribe have merged) is amazing! Many designers that are in the Mydoma community are fairly established in their design business and process, with a very full pipeline of projects. While many of the designers in the eDesign Tribe community are in their first few years of business or are a virtual design assistant.

When I see designers that may be newer to the industry start their design business as virtual assistance I get giddy inside because I love the opportunities it brings for them. They have honed in on the types of services they excel at and enjoy doing. This is the perfect match for more established designers to outsource portions of their business.

My design practice is primarily virtual since leaving my corporate design job in 2015 and starting my own design firm. About 85% of my design clients are remote so over the years I’ve adapted my process to fit me and what my clients ask for. Last fall when I rebranded my business (Jenna Gaidusek Designs) and services, I released new “retained design time” formats instead of a flat rate service. 

For years I delivered the same thing whether my clients needed it all or not – a concept board, render and shopping list. The general anatomy of most projects, but I was doing this for a flat rate, and while most projects would play out with my hourly fee in the range that I wanted it to, I was getting bogged down with my perfectionism. If you render, you know what I’m talking about. A render is never complete, but sometimes you have to just walk away. For me, the more time I’d spend perfecting things that only I would notice, the more I was taking away from the hourly rate I’d factored into my flat rate services. 

Last year I took a lot of time to reevaluate my business, goals and the clients I serve. So for many months, I watched my ideal client and the types of questions they were asking me and also searching for online. Then I created services to meet their actual needs, not a packaged service that didn’t always function the way they needed it for their specific project.

January Paid Event Landing Page Images

Overall, the options were still there (consultation, concept, render and shopping list), but how I do it now is more a la carte, and protects my time. The options are in line with what my clients need.

  1. Either 1 or 2 hours of consultation time (virtual or in-person) to ask me anything they have questions about. Of course I take a questionnaire before the call so I know generally what they will be asking me.

  2. 5 hours of intensive design collaboration. Or a 1-day virtual or an in-person styling, shopping etc. session. We can go shopping together during this time then style together, in person or via video chat. The time is theirs to use as they need for their unique project.

  3. 20 hours (that I lovingly named for the great chats I have with my mom, Kathy) that I call “2 Chatty Kathy’s”. This service is 20 hours of collaboration. This may include sourcing and a concept board for a room or two. This may be new construction where I’m “on call” when they need me for questions. It could be a couple virtual video consultations and shopping lists of products to help my clients pull together rooms in their home that need a little designer finessing. It can be used in any way the client needs, but the time is tracked and when their 20 hrs are done, they are billed for the next “block” of time they require to complete the project if they need to continue the collaboration.

Of course I do custom collaborations outside these services, but this is a great place to start!

All renders are “add-ons” to any of my services and are billed per space. By adding the render on to the design time it takes away from the render being the focus and reinforces that design time is essential to understanding the function of the space and how the client wants to feel in it.

The render is just instant gratification while we wait for the products to arrive. A novelty that they can show their friends and share online (bonus for you bc that’s a great social referral when they tag you). Of course, renders are also a wonderful way to convey your design vision to a client that can’t put it together with just a concept board.

Now, retained design time is nothing new, but setting it up for your unique business model with the things you love and don’t love to do means you’re in total control. And if you want to offer rendering or other services that you don’t enjoy doing or that you aren’t as well versed in yet, you still can! Hire a VA to work collaboratively with (but be sure to build it into your pricing)!

If you are looking to revamp or launch your design services but aren’t sure where to start, the best place is the Interior Design Business 101 course that I created for the Interior Design Playbook. Here you’ll do interactive mind mapping exercises to discover, develop and implement the services, ideal client, pricing structure and overall business structure that is right for YOU and the unique set of skills you offer.

  1. Sourcing. I LOVE designing. I love meeting with the client, getting to know them, and how they will function in their new space. Then I like to start gathering products to complete that space.
    Now for me, sourcing is a place that I’d love to outsource in the future to streamline the process a little bit., but for now it’s not something I hate enough in the process to delegate to a team member (for clients that is). However, just yesterday I was talking to a VA about only outsourcing my passive income “roundup” sourcing for my blog – as my new year’s goal is to post 2 passive income round ups per month. For this, I’ll have her gather 20-30 items from a list of less than 10 of my favorite vendors (that I’m an affiliate for using one of my programs: ie: LTK/ Reward Style, Share a Sale or other independent companies). She has a similar style as me (which is KEY to outsourcing sourcing) and blog sourcing is just something that I keep pushing off my list.

  2. Floor Plan Drawings. I do not really enjoy the tediousness of creating a floor plan. Like I’ll do it… but I’m not a fan of this process, I’d much rather free up my time to do something I enjoy doing. So sometimes what I’ll do is send my VA’s my sketched plan or a CAD file, and have them get the floor plan in order. At this point I’m working with the client, gathering the concept products and creating a concept board to present. I utilize the floor plan my VA whipped up (as you can share projects in the Mydoma
     with your team members) and I start dropping some items in to confirm sizes for my concept.

  3. Concept Presentation & Revisions. I don’t typically present the render after I create the floor plan with my client at this phase, only a 2D concept board with products (no links yet). If a client doesn’t add a render to their service, I don’t include it at all – only a concept board at this stage. Then after we work on any minor revisions, the concept is presented. I say minor because I gather enough intel from the initial consultation and client intake questionnaire that I can typically peg their style and the concept from the get go with small tweaks for alternative products.

  4. Render the Concept. After the concept board is settled (if the client has purchased additional renders) I will either add the approved products to my render model myself, or ask my VA to do it. This would include finding the 3D models (or very similar products that are adapted to look like the ones in my concept), applying materials such as tile, fabrics, paint/ wallpaper, and art to the 3D render.
    This can be done one of two ways, depending on how you like to design best. The first way is to have my VA add the models in the project but not place them so I can do that (I like to render and design at the same time so I can experiment sometimes). Why get them to do only that? Because this is the most tedious part of rendering! It’s the most time consuming, and the least enjoyable part of the render process (FOR ME). The second way is to place all the product models and materials in my project model myself and provide detailed instructions for my VA so they can apply the materials and products in the right location for a finished render.

  5. Render & Presentation. After the render concept is finished, I review and add my tweaks. This is why it’s important to know the basics of the Mydoma Visualizer even if you plan to outsource a lot of your rendering and floor plans to a VA). I’ll then create and send my client 4K photorealistic renders and a tourable panorama walk-through. After my client receives these, if there aren’t any minor edits to the render, then I’ll process a new rendered video to send to my client and to use for social media content.

  6. Ordering Products. When it comes to ordering the products, I do one of two things with the shopping list. Depending on the client, scope, and what we decide from the beginning (and put into the contract). I’ll either send affiliate links to each product so they can do the ordering themselves and I just earn a small commission on each sale, or I’ll include an invoice from them to pay via their Mydoma portal so I can collect money and order any trade-only items.
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None of my projects are the same, and these new services allow me to really customize the design time with the client. They get what they need most from me as a design professional, and I get paid properly for my time.

One of my favorite collaborations over the past couple of years is with builders. These services have been historically half virtual, half-in person, but are now entirely virtual as I moved from FL to SC and will still continue to design spec homes and Parade of Homes houses for one of the builders I work with.

I could literally go on and on about all the different service options and passive income revenue streams that you can add to your website just doing what you would normally do as a designer… But I think I’ll save that for the “Grow with Builders” workshop!

There are ways to be as hands on or off as you wish depending on your personal expertise and what you want to offer as your services. We will show you step-by-step instructions to build services around your skills and how to find and market your services to builders.

I hope getting a view on how I structure my own interior design services helps, and gives you inspiration for your own menu of services – and I look forward to seeing you around the community more! Be sure to check out the Interior Design Playbook for upcoming events, free business templates and premium courses to keep advancing your business in the new year.

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Written by Jenna Gaidusek

Jenna Circle

Jenna Gaidusek is the Director of Education & Community at Mydoma, and formally the founder of eDesign U, the largest virtual school for continued eDesign business education. 

As a practicing designer herself, she believes that an educator should practice what they preach. She also believes that there is plenty of room for everyone in this industry, and has dedicated herself to lifting up designers around her – empowering them to live the life that they’ve dreamt of!

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