July 06, 2007

How to Create a Higher-end Image

by:Nika Stewart
A night out at a local five-star restaurant last weekend got my brain buzzing with marketing ideas.

Restaurant Nicholas is located on a highway not far from plenty of much less expensive eateries and fast food places. But Nicholas is always full. It's certainly not because the prices are low. No, the success of Nicholas has to do with their continuously living up to their high-end image.

With high-end businesses, high prices are accepted without question. So if you'd like to stop dealing with price objections, create a high-end image.

Here are 3 ways that can help you achieve a higher- end image with your design business. These ideas may seem obvious or common sense, yet many designers forget or ignore these principles. So I am writing this to remind you and give you a jolt. Which idea can you put into practice this week?

1. Pay attention to every detail
At Nicholas, my entire dinner was not only delicious, but it was spectacularly prepared and beautiful to look at. Instead of simply placing the dishes in front of us, four servers came to our table, and on cue, they lifted the silver covers off our plates - revealing each course (there were seven!). Without our noticing, our wine glasses were constantly refilled, bread was replenished, and tableware was replaced. It was all done so seamlessly. The silverware was lovely, the table linens were crisp and clean, the napkins in the bathroom were beautiful! No detail was overlooked.

Have you overlooked any detail in your business? Take inventory now, and make a note to ensure that everything lives up to your high standards.

2. Deliver more than expected
Several times during the evening, we were amazed with something extra and unexpected. A surprise introductory appetizer was served as we waited for our first course. A custom dessert was created for the "birthday girl" at the table. And towards the end of dinner, we were all presented with a lovely gift bag filled with freshly-baked banana bread (which I ate the next morning for breakfast).

Do you over-deliver?

3. Turn down lower-quality jobs
Several people have asked me to save them money by creating a design using less expensive fabrics and furnishings. Unfortunately, most of the time, less expensive means lower quality.
Imagine if I had asked the servers at Nicholas to "just bring me a peanut butter sandwich and potato chips." While everyone was more than accommodating, their high-standards would never allow them to give in to such a request.

We tend to agree to certain jobs because we think it makes us seem more accommodating and puts us in a better light. But saying yes to jobs that are of a lesser quality actually lowers your image, and the higher-end prospects will not think of hiring you.

How else do you create a high-end image? Please post your comments.


Anonymous said...

Just thought I'd share an experience I had last year that brings this "higher end" subject to clarity.
I had a very nice couple with a very nice home who after several visits informed me they wanted their 5 living room windows done with shades, fabric and hardware for $2500.00 or less. Now you all know that the shades alone can cost that! (depending on what is chosen.)
Well, being me and not wanting to say no way Jose, I took the job.
They hate it, the fabric doesn't look like she imagined, the style doesn't look like she imagined (I drew her a sketch and showed her magazine pictures and of course she chose the fabric from 3 choices)I actually spent more time than normal on this because I had to search for lower end fabrics and hardware.
I know I have lost one opportunity for window treatments because of her dissatifaction and she spread the word in her workplace.
The lesson for me is to focus on attracting customers who want a beautiful product and to know that
a low end project CAN and will injure my business! Just say NO!
You can see the finished project on my website:www.practicaldecorator.com
It's the one where I'm on a ladder
fussing with the folds, the soft swags. At least it looks better than the before!

Anonymous said...

I like you Nika! How can I get more high end projects?
I take any I can see a paycheck for the month.

Anonymous said...

Hi Nika,
I love your article and the response from Deb. Exceptional service, and added surprises are key to the higher end image. I look forward to watching your new house become your home!