For those working in interior design, it can be relatively difficult to promote your business compared to others who work in industries that specialise in mass-produced, homogenous goods.
While these firms can simply put out a blanket advertisement via TV, radio or a local newspaper and drum up the interest they need right away, gaining recognition with customers who seek a bespoke service can prove more of a challenge.
In many cases, it can come down to word of mouth or, more significantly, creating awareness through the notoriety of past commissions. Gaining a reputation for providing a high-quality service for well-known clients can catch the eye of those who desire similar results and can give an invaluable insight into the most cutting edge design techniques on the market.
It places the brand in a premium position ahead of competitors and could ultimately cement your firm as the market leader.
One such company that has enjoyed such successes over the last century is J Rotherham. The stone masons have been commissioned to carry out work for everyone from the Saudi royal family to the owners of the Celtic Manor golf resort.
Managing Director Joe Rotherham explains that gaining commissions from such household names not only helps raise the profile of the brand, but also instils a business culture that strives for the best possible results with every project that follows.
He said: “If you’re building a standard product, the skill base doesn’t have to be as high, it’s more mechanised – more a process than a skill.”
However, he added that securing one-off commissions to produce output to very specific standards can be a way of ensuring everyone within the company has an expansive and progressive vision.
“You need people who want to push the boundaries forward and can afford to push the boundaries forward,” he commented, “so you need these people who are operating at the very top level”.
Getting into pole position
The firm’s Commercial Director Matt Rotherham used the example of Formula 1 manufacturer Mercedes to demonstrate how staying one step ahead of the game is the key to a life of success in the design industry.
He cited the automotive giant’s philosophy of “absolute cutting edge investment” as one of the main drivers of the sport’s ongoing growth and development.
“You’ve got your specialist projects that push boundaries, but once you’ve created those and got over those boundaries, you can then find ways of bring it slightly more mainstream.
“That’s what we’ve kind of done in the stone industry; a lot of what we were doing that was quite revolutionary 20 years ago is mainstream now.”
An ongoing process
The company have also demonstrated how this approach of constant innovation is something that is still very much present today. Advances in technology and the arrival of equipment like 3D printers now mean that designers are able to produce bespoke fixtures to the most specific of measurements and dimensions.
However, there is no point in having these facilities at your disposal if you do not have the cash reserves available to utilise them.
It is the cash injection that comes from marquee commissions – like those J Rotherham has secured – that produces the finance needed for future research and development.
The investment that firms like this are currently putting into new technologies will mean that they are commonplace and, more importantly, affordable for the mainstream in a decade or two.
Joe added: “There’s no doubt if you do some of these projects, and get it right and to the satisfaction of the client, it establishes and maintains your reputation within that field and at that level.
“We just kept picking up the phone because somebody’s heard about what we’ve done.”