This week taught me that sometimes you can’t handle everything on your own and sometimes you need help from others. Earlier this week I was juggling two different customers at the same time and I was struggling to provide them with the customer service they deserved. So, in order to save both sales, I got my manager to help me check out one group of customers. Another instance happened to tonight. I had been helping a customer for over 2 hours helping pick out accessories and furniture to match the urban industrial style he wanted for his house. As I was with him, a previous customer I had worked with came in to change stuff on his order and pay off. I was unavailable and so was my manager so I had to make the decision to split the sale with another salesman so that he would help me finish the sale while I was working with my other customers. It worked out great and ended up making the day because of it! I also had a return customer come in and had me talk with his interior designer to help figure out the best possible pieces for his house based on the style they were both working towards. Here was a picture of a dinette set I had sold him in his place!
This week at SuCasa we were in somewhat of a slump. After all my normal work responsibilities were finished I was asked to help clean out the back storage area so long as there were no customers. There weren’t many customers at all, so I was assigned to help clean up. There were TONS of old samples and miscellaneous items. I have learned a lot about the behind the scenes work and what it takes to run a small business. Not only do I do sales and design, I also do invoicing, purchase orders, inventory, and book keeping. I also am responsible for following up on all feedback via different website reviews and social media.
So, this week I had to clear out what seemed like years and years of collecting sample boards and other materials related to the field of business. All of the empty stands seen in the pictures below were full of loose tiles and tile boards. It was a lot of work as you can see a full sized dumpster is nearly full and we still have much more to go. This week has taught me to stay organized and keep better inventory of what is relevant to keep or discard. Keeping everything that a business ever receives can be a waste of space and energy and ultimately money you have to pay to towards labor and a dumpster.
This week was especially short because of the studio trip. Nonetheless, it was still a busy 2 days. Monday we reviewed our project load and I completed the remaining tasks from last week as well as began some detailed renderings for a project reconfigure. This was a project done last year but the client wanted a few minor changes before install. Below are renderings shown in our title block. Every company has their own way of doing their title block, mine is preloaded in my software for ease of use.
On Tuesday I completed a last-minute task and then assisted with differentiating product on a plan. All of the product looked similar but were different. Below is shown our way of hand-color coding floor plans to ensure on large projects that thing are getting drawn and will be ordered correctly. This seems like an easy task, however, it is critical and it is something we do on every large project. Although this was only an 8 hour week, it was still full of great projects that strengthen my skills.
This week the office overall seemed very quiet with half of the office moving into the side wings that are done. Currently half of the open office is empty to make room for the new workstations going up and the other half is still our old workstations. The goal is to have more open workstations and the ability to seat or stand if desired. The office will have more common areas for collaboration and the much needed phone booths for private conversations. It’s always much harder to design for your own office then it is for a client because you’re trying to make everyone happy and take everyones needs and wants into consideration. It’s nice to see that the remodel is actually taking place because it has been something I started working on when I first started with the company 4 years ago and it’s taken this long to approve and put into action. During the company meeting the principles mentioned that further updates were going to be happening around the office which is very exciting. Down-sizing table top work-space I believe is going to be a huge challenge but I am very excited about going from 2 monitors to a single large format monitor. Can’t wait for the open office furniture to get installed to move in to the new workstation :).
This week two main projects have taken the majority of my time. The mall project was a non-stop revise throughout the week to try and get to the client a holistic presentation they can present to their higher ups of the proposed remodel. It was very stressful on my end because having to coordinate my design ideas with 3 other people that were assigned to help me with the deadline was getting to be difficult. The pros and cons of working in a large firm is that everyone for the most part has their own flexible schedule to an extent and when people you have to work with come in late and leave early or disappear for 2 hour lunches it’s hard to coordinate much and becomes extremely stressful and if for some reason something doesn’t get done, as leader of the project I’m responsible to deliver a finished product on time. So I had to take on the task of communicating properly to the other 3 people that were helping me that we might have to stay and work longer hours so that they could coordinate their time properly to finish their end of the project on time. All in all we finished the 20 page presentation booklet for the client and I was able to do at least 1 preliminary rendering of how one of the lounge areas might look like (image below). Aside from the mall I can’t seem to be able to get away from large furniture packages. Aside from the mall the whole week consisted of me having to revise, coordinate, and review 4 furniture bids of over 1.5 million dollars each with our client over seas. As I’ve said previously working on such large scale furniture packages is extremely stressful because one mistake can cost the firm or the client a lot of money and it’s all on you as the designer. So I’ve been spending a lot time having to double and triple check my work when is comes to the specs and checking the bid amounts the dealers provide to properly propose to the client the best option. Some exciting news is that we’ve been remodeling our office for the last couple of weeks and getting all new workstations and furniture with a new layout and moves begin on Monday. Only half of the firm will move into new stations while the other half is empty to assemble the furniture and the remaining are in old stations awaiting for the new ones to go up. I’ll post before and afters next week :).
This week, I was the point contact for a meeting with a potential new vendor. The company called Mir Mosaics came in to discuss and pitch their products to us. As part of my job, I often deal mostly with current vendors showing me new products that we will be selling. In this case, it was an entirely new company coming to us in the hopes that we will sell their product. This company sells high end tile that carry multiple different lines and styles of tile. They showed me how they are organized, which is by lines named after cities that they emulate. What I found interesting about this line is it’s capabilities to make custom orders. They offer such things as choosing the types of marble that go into particular patterns. What is more interesting is the capabilities to turn photos into full mosaics. An image (which is pulled from their website, and given permission by the representative to use) below depicts an example of their custom work. This would be desirable by much higher end clients. All the less, a very unique option for our customers. After our meeting, it was my job to report to the owner to discuss wether I believe, by the information provided, if it is profitable to bring this line in. I do this by presenting my notes and product samples and brochures provided by the vendor. Through this experience, I gain the ability to communicate with vendors and make informed decisions that will impact the business in the future.
This week I learned to help pick up the slack. One of the designers at Steelcase product training in Grand Rapids, so I had to step up and work on additional projects. Usually I have 7-8 healthcare projects, however, this week I had various projects for many different areas. Including a medical office waiting room, a reconfiguration of an office at Berea college and many revisions of my usual projects.
Later in the week, some girls from class came to visit ORI to pick out some fun finishes for a campus project they are working on with a sales person. This was an informal last-minute meeting. In this meeting,I was able to assist them in finding fabrics that are approved with the furniture they picked as well as update their drawings.
Attached is an example of a C.O.M. search for Campfire seating. This fabric was approved for what they were wanting. C.O.M. searching is a large part of my job by letting customers know ahead of time if they can use a fabric and not be devastated if it fails the Steelcase test.