Surviving and working through Covid 19 lockdown - Advice from Sarah Davies
Who would have ever thought that we would be living as we are right now? Certainly not me! These are very unpresented times and I must admit to feeling completely confused and very worried for my business when the lockdown was about to be announced, as I am sure everyone else did. There was actually some slight comfort in the fact we are all in the same boat so to speak.
I am the only person bringing in money to my home so it is a very tense time and the immediate financial worry was real. I had a job that I’d been working on cancelled, my two workshops were cancelled – everything seemed like it was falling apart… and on top of that I was looking at months of home schooling three kids!!!!
After the initial panic, I started to think about what I could do to pivot my business and bring in money whilst we got used to the new normal – I had a chat to a great friend that runs one of the networking groups I’m in.
If I could give one huge recommendation for a small business it would be to join a networking group. Do your research….find your gang/team/tribe/business family – whatever you want to call them! These groups can be priceless and offer so much support/advice/laughter. The two groups I’m a member of are Discovher (UK wide) and a local one to me Cheltenham mumboss club. Both groups offer me something different and very special.
After speaking, we all brainstormed a few ideas to help us stay on track (I know for me whatever I did needed to tick a few boxes):
- To bring in regular money
- Tap into something that people would like/need and be able to afford
- Something I could do alongside the kids being around and my other Interior design clients
- Something that kept my creativity going
- Something that could work now and after lockdown
- And I guess most importantly I wanted to open up to a new client base
The idea that seemed to tick all of those was to create a virtual design scheme offer…. I already had a similar service but it included meeting clients face to face and was more expensive.
I wanted to aim the service at people who wouldn’t necessary use my Interior Design services but loved interiors and want to do the work themselves.
Suddenly we are all at home more and getting a little stir crazy. Turning our focus on the home and decoration is inevitable. We suddenly have the advantage of time and have all been put in a position to slow down a little……. I know how important for our mental health it is to be in lovely surrounding, so I knew that this service had the potential be really great.
What I am offering is a fresh expert eye over the customer’s room via a video meeting to chat through lots of ideas and give them options that maybe the customer hasn’t thought of and create mood-boards & suppliers details to take away with them. As a designer my role is always to listen to my clients but also to push them – show them new options and things that you know will work that maybe they don’t have the confidence to carry out.
I pitched it at a price as low as possible so I was able to keep the business ticking over, I could still be creative and that customers at this time would be happy to pay.
I always knew the content the client was going to get was always going to be worth so much more that the fee and in these times I was completely fine with that…….
Is the fee to low? (£99 per room) – For what the client gets then yes probably but for now that’s fine….. I’m busy and I’m gaining content for all my Social Media and my website. I’m receiving great client testimonials, opening up my clients base to so many more people and the word is getting out there – All of those things are worth such a lot more to me and will stand me in good stead moving forward..
What I’m also finding is that as I gain people’s confidence through my work they are asking for more things from me such as getting curtains and blinds made up/sorting out installs of furniture etc. It’s as much about building a new client base and trust as well as the money side of things. I think it’s really important to think of the long term rather than just getting through this moment.
As much as what is happening around the world is terrible and heart breaking for all the families who have lost someone & incredibly hard for all those in the front line…
I think there is a huge chance for positive things to come from this. I think it’s amazing how many small businesses I see adapting and flourishing at the moment because they are small enough to make the quick changes and still work safely. We just all need to look and adapt our businesses to work in our new world.
If you'd like to get in touch with Sarah, here are a few virtual client testimonials and contact information:
"Just had a virtual design with Sarah, what a fantastic service and totally exceeded my expectations. After a WhatsApp chat and a tour of the room, Sarah produced 4 different boards, all of which are gorgeous and now am spoilt for choice."
"I really needed help with my (incredibly beige) kitchen and so had a meeting with Sarah through her Virtual Interior Design Service. She is so warm and friendly, passionate and knowledgeable. I felt she really understood what sort of vibe I was trying to create and has given me the confidence to go for a colour I wasn’t brave enough to choose on my own. Within just a day or so I had 3 mood boards to look through which she sent with a video of herself talking me through the different schemes. She also suggested changing the colour of the window frames and the frames on the sliding doors, which is not something I would have thought of myself and can be done relatively easily. Her attention to detail is amazing. The blinds and other products she has chosen were really spot on and made me aware of a few companies I hadn’t heard of. I can’t wait to finish the room. Thank you so much Sarah x"