Lori Carroll: How to win Awards for your Interior Design Business
“If you don’t enter these awards, you can’t win, and it takes a lot of money and a lot of energy to put those out, but as I look back you know, I’ve been so blessed in winning awards, and now I’ve been doing this for so long, people in the media know if they come to me they’ll get the information, they’ll get it quickly, it will be complete, concise and I have great photos.”
In today’s episode Nick talks with an award winning Interior Designer Lori Carroll of Lori Carroll and Associates to chat all things business. Tune in to hear great content that can help you grow your interior design business and be sure to stay tuned through the end of the episode for an update from Nick May and The Chaise Lounge.
Lori Carroll: Lori Carroll and Associates
Lori Carroll is an award-winning interior designer based out of Tucson, Arizona. Lori says of her background, “my vision and goal was to be an interior designer, every couple of months I’d rearrange my bedroom.” Lori studied interior designer at the University of Tucson and also learned from time spent abroad in Denmark.
Nick asks Lori how she got to where she iS today, Lori explains the influence her first job had, being only 8 or 10 years old, working with her dad in his lumber yard. Beyond that, Lori worked in a paint and wallpaper shop throughout high school and in a furniture store from 1981-1986, while studying at the University of Tucson. Lori says of her time at the furniture store, “the furniture store was good for me, I did all kinds of things, doing deposits, inventory, meeting with clients, doing design, so working there was a pretty good background to have.” Lori even got her very first interior design client through the store, a customer she had worked with.
Nick and Lori talk about her successful design firm, Lori Carroll and Associates. “I’m only as good as the people I surround myself with,” Lori explains. The firm is comprised currently of ten staff members, including a receptionist, an accounting team member, an AutoCAD team, a site supervisor and associates. Listen in to hear more from Lori about what these positions are responsible for within the business.
Lori’s work has won several awards, which has been a fantastic outlet for PR for the firm. Nick asks Lori how she has been so successful in getting recognition, to which Lori answers, “First, constantly sending information out to magazines, just constantly putting content out there, and second, winning awards, especially national awards. That has been my recipe for success, not necessarily great design, but following up and answering questions, it has not hurt me.”
Nick asks why more people don’t enter awards, as you read above Lori’s philosophy is “if you don’t enter, you can’t win. Keep putting it out there and eventually, it all comes around. Lori talks about how many contests she’s entered over the years, and how many times she actually entered before winning one. “You win an award, but you never arrive, you have to keep moving forward, there’s always someone designing beautiful things to compete with.” Tune in to hear Lori talk about her proudest accomplishment in terms of awards.
Lori and Nick talk about the design associations Lori is a part of and how those associations have helped her grow her network and business. The two talk more details about the organization of her firm and how she grew her staff over the years. Lori talks about the type of work her firm does, stating approximately 80% residential with some boutique medical and hotel spaces. When asked what her favorite type of project is, Lori says, “My favorite project is working with a client who can make decision and move on, a client that can say ‘I like this, I don’t like that.’”
On the topic of leadership within her firm, Lori says, “One, I always thank people for everything they do, there’s nothing like being appreciated for each task, and two, I treat everyone like equals, we are all working together creating environments, no one’s better than anyone here, including myself.” Lori discusses the with Nick how she runs her business in terms of contracts and proposals, Lori says, “by staying informed and communicative with you client, you can typically avoid issues with contracts, payments and your relationship with the client.”
Lori talks about her marketing tactics before the days of social media, “I’d send out marketing letters, I’d send yearly letters to clients, I would have parties at my studio or recently completed projects, I did show houses and constantly updated our website. Marketing, especially for interior design, can be a full-time job, but to me it’s not a job, it’s my passion, it’s my way of life, every day is a new challenge, it’s always something new.” Lori and Nick talk about how she builds her network, Lori says, “if you can build a dynamic infrastructure with your ‘go-to’ people, then you have a winning team.”
To end the show, Lori dispenses her advice to students or designers who are just starting their career, “Never give up, follow your dreams, don’t be intimidated, don’t be afraid to think outside the box, if you don’t know an answer, go find that answer.” To learn more about Lori and her firm, visit her website at www.loricarroll.com or email her directly, at email@example.com, Lori states, “Other people helped me, and in return I’d like to help others.”
To close, Nick thanks three of The Chaise Lounge’s biggest supporters, Benjamin Moore, VA Staffer and Design Manager, tune in to hear how each of these fantastic businesses can help you build your business in interior design.
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If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes or on our website at TheChaiseLoungePodcast.com. Lastly, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter or post a review on iTunes, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. With that said keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!