THINK YOUR DESIGN BUSINESS IS BURIED IN PAPERWORK? THINK AGAIN.
In my third year here at Merida, as I got deeper into the world of interior design, I became fascinated by how designers balance their creative work with the business side of the industry. After my curiosity was perked I started to hear a lot of design professionals talking about Studio Webware and thought to myself, “I have to find out more!” Shortly thereafter I called up Lance and viola, this blog post was born!
It’ s not every day that you get a call from a client saying “Thank you for changing my life.” But Lance Haeberle , founder and owner of Studio Webware, has had more than his share of those rewarding phone calls from the interior designers he services. “It’s the most satisfying aspect of my job” Lance reports.
FILLING A NICHE IN THE INTERIOR DESIGN INDUSTRY…
In the early 80’s, Lance was living in Los Angeles and had multiple friends who were interior designers. Lance, who had a software background, explains “I saw a need”. He noticed that his designer friends, inspired by the creative aspects of their work but burdened by the administrative and business functions of the industry, needed a system to make finances and project management sane. Lance decided to develop an automated product that could reduce the stress and time spent managing paper and information. Armed with 20 clients initially in 1985, Lance began his software focusing in finances, and now has expanded to address multiple business functions. Using Salesforce as a platform, Lance’s program is tailored to the unique needs of the interior design industry.
DROWNING IN PURCHASE ORDERS?
A single residential project can have a design firm generating anywhere from 90-700 purchase orders. Anything from something small such as a lamp set for the living room or a single vase to larger items such as thousands of dollars worth of custom designed wallpaper or a major construction service can generate a PO. Keeping track of everything, even when staffed with an army of hardworking design assistants, can be a designer’s nightmare. Studio Webware can be the difference between having 3 assistants or 1, a full-time bookkeeper or part-time.
THE CAVALRY IS HERE!
Help is on the way thanks to Studio Webware. To mitigate said paperwork avalanche, here are some of the tools Studio Webware has in its artillery:
- Single item entry- To streamline the process of managing a purchase, one single entry can automatically generate a quote, order, and/or project proposal as needed, and is also tied in to budget analysis and report-running for easy reporting.
- Interactive publishing- Designers can set up visual documents that can be seen by their clients from the comfort of their client’s home. Clients can view the documents solo, or while on the phone with their designer.
- “Studio Capture”- A visual tool found on the Studio Webware website that allows designers to grab an image from vendor’s websites and drag it into the scene.
- Project management- The software offers a project management tool where designers can look at the big picture of a project and manage more broadly; likewise, details can be easily called up when needed, using industry terms like “CFA’s”, “lead times”, and can even go room by room for data.
- Accessibility- Studio Webware now offers all of its applications as cloud-based, meaning that busy traveling designers can manage their projects from virtually anywhere around the globe.
- Server provided- One of Lance’s clients, Thomas Weide of Studio M of Tampa, FL says that the “deciding factor” in selecting Studio Webware over competing software was that it was truly “hosted”, and not “smoke and mirrors” hosting. “Salesforce is the platform” Tom reminds us. “Salesforce.com is a huge player in the finance industry, has a trusted platform, and is truly hosted so I don’t have to manage a server and have an IT department.”
CELEBRITY CLIENTS? GOT IT.
Lance’s client list reads like a Who’s Who of interior design, including names like Barbara Barry, Inc., Michael S. Smith, Inc., Cullman & Kravis, Tucker & Marks, Inc., and many more. Even showrooms and manufacturers are using Lance’s product- Henredon, Gregorius Pineo, Holland & Sherry, and National Upholstering Company, just to name a few. While most of Lance’s clients are in the US, some are as far flung as Hong Kong, the UK, Switzerland, Canada and Australia. New designer clients who come to Studio Webware have typically outgrown Quickbooks, are feeling overwhelmed and disorganized and ready for a bigger support structure. “Studio Webware gives them one powerful integrated tool to take control of their business”.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT IT?!
To be sure Studio Webware was the real deal we decided to hunt down a few of Lance’s clients to see what they had to say about working first hand with the software. Tom of Studio M, quoted above, has a finance background so he’s familiar with many different management tools. His wife’s design firm had outgrown Quickbooks, and she found that Studio Webware had increased flexibility key for the design industry (click here to check out Tom and his wife’s website, www.interiorsbystudiom.com).
Faith Sheridan, an experienced Studio Webware customer and owner of Seattle-based Faith Sheridan Design, said, “Studio Webware is the single source for my design firm in areas of accounting, ordering and project management. Adding images alone heps my clients manage what we selected and the option to login on their own to monitor progress reassures them that their project is on track. Lance understands how the interior design industry works and Studio Webware intuitively works in sync. I cannot imagine using any other product.
Have you used Studio Webware? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts!