That’s my answer to any issues with our design trade. The internet has changed the way we do business in ways we never would have imagined. We never worried about being the lowest price in the world on rugs and carpet. People shopped us and designers used us because of our expertise and our excellent customer service. Then came the Great Recession. Even people who weren’t really affected by the downturn became frugal. To a fault. In the last six years, I’ve seen people stop using designers and design resources, I believe because they think they’re saving money. Besides, they know as much as any of the professionals, right? Just enough to be dangerous. Spending below their means, all in the sake of saving money. Their “frugal” decisions will come back to haunt them in the long run.
Fortunately, we are beginning to see a change. People realize that they do need some help with these lifestyle decisions. They are not, however, willing to pay more for anything they can order online at a lower cost from someone selling rugs from his garage. So what do the Rug Galleries of the world do?
A New Way of Doing Business
For The Rug Gallery and other like-minded retailers, we had to make some really tough decisions. This includes offering the lowest price every day on those products we sell that are available online. That spun our design trade 180 degrees. Most of our designers understood what was happening and realized they had to be innovative themselves. Most designers now charge a straight mark up on whatever the client purchases, even from the internet. And they charge an hourly or consultation fee for their valuable time. Clients seem to appreciate the transparency in this approach. Personally, I think everyone will find it liberating in the long run. No more secrets; no more guessing at price. This is our new world and we either learn to live in it or fade away. We have to use our experience and expertise to offer an added value to our clients. They have to be able to see our ability to save them time, money and buyers’ remorse. Gone are the days of “no fees,” where we can make money on mark up. As I said before, “Blame it on the internet.”