Spend Time Wisely to Grow Your UK Interior Design Business

Image of a watering can pouring clocks on to growing interior design studios

You’ll need to spend your time wisely to grow your UK interior design business. Because as an interior designer that has your own company, your time will be incredibly limited. That said, do you know where the time you spend in the studio goes? Or even how many hours each week you invest in your creative practice?

If you want to expand in the interior architecture industry, you’ll need to make the most of all the resources available. Starting with the one that’s often in the shortest supply. Time.

How Much Time Do You Spend on Your UK Interior Design Firm?

Before we can work out how to invest our limited time, we need to know how much time we spend on our interiors venture. Although, ‘How much time do you spend on your business each week?’, seems like a simple question. It’s amazing how many interior designers I meet who don’t know the answer. It’s important because it’s our start point. And if we don’t know where we are, we won’t know where we’re going next.

Image of two clocks either side of an interior design studio to illustrate that managing time effectively is a crucial step when considering the growth of a creative studio.

But it is a simple question. With an easily found answer. All we need to do is note down when we start and finish work. Plus, any breaks we take. And when, I say ‘note down’, I mean just that. In a notebook (or digital equivalent). Don’t waste hours creating a spreadsheet. Because roughly right is all we need. After a couple of weeks, we’ll have a good idea of the effort our practice demands of us. Just like that, we have our baseline.

Now we can take our time tracking to the next level. To do this, we track time against various activities. For instance, design work, social media, staffing, sales, and so on. Keep it simple at first. Because an estimate is all we need. And there’s no point aiming for absolute precision, only to get bogged down. Then give up entirely. Spend another 2 weeks measuring time you spend on each of the categories. Again roughly.

The Next Step to Growing Your UK Interior Design Business

The next thing we do to figure out how we can achieve growth for our company is estimate what we charge for design hours. Again, I’ve met many interior designers who don’t know what their clients pay for each hour of their services. Even those that think they do. Because what they really charge per hour is vastly different from what they think they charge. And you can use the same trick as before to work out how much your clients pay per hour for your services.

This time we don’t use categories like admin or social media. Instead, you can track time against specific parts of each project such as concept design, installation. And you already know (at least approximately) how much your profit is for each phase of a project. Therefore, to work out your hourly rate divide the profit by the number of hours. And it doesn’t matter how you calculate your fees. Share of trade discount, percentage markup, fixed fee, or so on. You can still calculate an hourly rate using this method.

Table of a total time taken for concept design, detailed design, project management, and installation divided into gross profit to show how per hour design fees can vary.
Does Taking Your Company to the Next Level Mean Hiring an Interior Designer?

Does taking your studio to the next level mean employing someone who’ll pitch in on projects. Namely, another designer. To answer that, let’s consider the full cost of an interior designer for your firm. A junior interior designer commands at least £20,000 a year. Or £11 an hour. But that’s not where it ends. Because there’s employers’ National Insurance and pension contributions to consider. Already, you’re paying an effective hourly rate of £13.

And that’s before adjusting for their productivity. First, you’ll need to account for 25 holidays days and, an average of, 8 days sick pay. Next, adjust for the time they’re not working on designs. Expect them to spend 30% of their day on admin, internal meetings, making coffee, and so on. All said and done, the real hourly rate for a designer for the hours they’re designing is around £22 per hour. Given the average cost of a mid-market interior designer is £30-50 per hour, doesn’t leave you much of a profit.

Table of costs per hour of a junior, mid-weight and senior designer to show that the full cost of hiring an employee is vastly more than just their base salary

Of course, you could look at hiring in skills that a junior interior designer doesn’t have. Such as those that come with an Interior Architect or Project Manager. Unfortunately, the cost for those skills is likely to be higher than for the services of a junior interior designer. It begs the question, ‘are there other ways to bring people into your firm?’

Other Hiring Options to Grow Your Business

Recruiting freelancers is a possibility that quickly springs to mind. And one that comes without the long-term commitment of hiring an employee. And without the cost of holiday and sick pay. But larger freelancer costs often overshadow these savings. In short, the flexibility that freelancers give comes at a higher price.

We can also look to the gig economy for inspiration. The likes of Uber and Just Eat. In this scenario, people pay workers by the job. And there are plenty of budding design students offering pay-per-project services such as CAD. For an affordable rate, interior design company owners can buy time to take their businesses to the next level. And give interiors industry newbies valuable experience too.

Image of a clock and a signpost pointing towards freelancer, employee, and pay-per-project to illustrate the different ways business owners can buy time to support your interior design studio’s growth

But you can grow your practice by relying on resources that we don’t exclusively find in the interiors industry.

Find Resources Outside the Interiors Industry to Boost Your Firm

Or put another way, outsourcing. There’s a plethora of Virtual Assistants the come with a variety of skills including social media and SEO. Bookkeepers are another way that can save you both time and money. The going rate for these skills is around £25-30 / hour. At the first look, that’s more than hiring an interior designer. Although, a second look is much more revealing.

Firstly, outsourcing means tapping into more skills and experience in a particular field than a junior designer brings in theirs. Second, these professionals are more likely better at administration, bookkeeping, and so on, than you are. Which means they will be quicker and more effective than you. If outsourcing achieves better results in half the time, the effective rate you pay for it falls by over 50%. A bargain price that gives you the opportunity to expand your creative firm.

Images of a book, calculator, and a headset to show that interior design company owners can outsource business operations to help with their firm’s expansion
Spend Time Wisely to Grow Your UK Interior Design Business

Time is a vital resource that you need to make the most of to grow your UK interior design business. So, first understand where you’re spending that time. To ensure that expenditure is an investment. Not just a cost.

Next, work out the hourly rate clients pay for your services. Then adapt your service to give you the best income per hour. By changing the prices or rate structure. Or by using targeted marketing to entice clients to take the services that are the most profitable for your studio.

Finally, think carefully about the options available to you to support your business expansion. Because they extend beyond the typical route, hiring a junior.

Do You Know What’s Next for Your Interior Design Company?

An UK interior design business owner’ journey follows a typical path. Launch their company and see it become a success. Then, a few years on, think, ‘what next?’. And ‘What next’ could be a desire to do even more. Or ‘what next’ could also be that the first successes have run out, and something needs to change.

In either case, see how YourCoachApproach can help you tackle your ‘What next?’. Alternatively, book a FREE 30-Minute Chat. And let’s see what we can do together.

Discover how Outsource Business Director can transform your interior design business success. Book a FREE 30-minute chat

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