By Renée Biery

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Add-on’s, renovations, and new construction homes can seem intimidating to take on. How do you even get started? How do you find and manage contractors? What surprises should you anticipate coming up? How long do these things take?

In this podcast, you will learn all that and so much more!











If you want to know how to start building effective, quality relationships, really know and own your value as well as create boundaries when necessary, then today’s episode is for you! I have a fantastic guest with me today, Jeannie Andresen.

Jeannie is a former corporate director turned business coach who specializes in helping interior designers gain confidence, balance, and profitability in their businesses.

Jeannie’s background includes a decade of experience in corporate America running a recruiting business inside a Fortune 100 finance firm. Her role included directly managing a team of six, indirectly managing a team of 30, and onboarding, training, and coaching sales professionals to develop daily habits of success to reach their business goals.

Jeannie now focuses her business on teaching design professionals the confidence, processes, and boundaries necessary to run an organized, efficient, and profitable design business. 

She has been interviewed on prominent design podcasts such as A Well Designed Business and Designed by Wingnut Social, and is an educational partner to Designer Link, an interior design membership community on Chicago’s North Shore.

In today’s episode, Jeannie shares how she came into interior design business coaching.

She shares how she was at a point where she was trying to decide who she could help the most – who she could bring the most value to in her coaching business, when her friend said, “Interior Designers. We know interior design. We don’t know the business.” While she says she doesn’t think that is entirely true, interior designers often don’t give themselves enough credit. But after digging into this further, she discovered there were definitely some opportunities in the interior design space. 

The reality is we don’t start with hey, I want to start a business, and then I’ll get into interior design. We start with, I love interior design. Whatever that may look like for all the designers.

In the corporate world and the company Jeanie worked for for 10 years, she shared how they recruited independent contractors and then gave them six weeks of training on how to run a financial planning business. While interior designer are not trained on business at all. 

Jeanie trained in finances during her corporate career. She saw the training others received and the support they received in her company. And so for Jeannie, it was a no-brainer calling for her to help interior designers operate their business more efficiently, find further confidence in themselves, and understand what boundaries they need to be able to manage their calendar and their business effectively. 

Seasoned designers

What is a seasoned designer? When I was in my twenties, I remember reading magazines about ‘seasoned’ designers, and they would be in their 40’s. So, for the longest time, I thought I would be considered a ‘seasoned’ designer in my 40’s. Jeannie and I now know that age is not what makes a seasoned designer. You can be young or just busy. Busy designers need help, and that is exactly who Jeannie works with. 

But we do need to hone our skills, not only in how we view ourselves, whether we’re seasoned, an expert, or any other label you want to use, but we also need to know how to create boundaries and stand in our own value, and that doesn’t always look the same in every scenario. 

We really need to train our brains and ourselves on what our expertise really is. It’s not helpful when you think that you are the same as everybody else and everybody else deserves this opportunity as much as you. That isn’t helpful, especially when you are running a business adn chosen for amazing opportunities. 

There’s a reason why you are chosen, and you are absolutely capable of succeeding in it. The quicker you identify what differentiates you, the more you can leverage that and own it, not only on your projects but when you are in front of a prospective client, instead of thinking, “What makes me different? I wonder if I’ll get this?” You will instead know what makes you different and be able to speak to it and sell them to it. And that is a very major differentiation point between how maybe you’re operating today and how you could be operating with a little bit of perspective.

Maybe you’re an expert and just haven’t acknowledged it or begun charging for some of the work you do for clients.  Jeannie and I share experiences where we’ve helped designers see how they were working for free. Stop.

If you’re unsure how to begin charging, write down what you’ve done and how many hours it took. Then, the next time a client asks you to do construction management for them, you can begin adding it to your proposals. 

Sometimes, you have to fake it until you make it. 

This is not always the best strategy, but if you enjoy construction management and have some experience in it, and want more of it, you’re not faking it by putting it out there. You’re putting it out there to attract people and get them to your website to see what you do. They can then go to you and ask for help. 

Most designers think they need 5-10 projects before they can say they do construction management. We constantly want to put barriers in front of ourselves, and it’s very hard to get more work if the clients don’t know they can hire you for it.

That is where fake it til you make it comes in. You’re not actually faking anything, but you are putting out there that you might be declaring yourself as a designer who does construction before you feel like you’re ready, but you actually are ready. 

In doing this, you can also start small. Do bathrooms. Do a small addition or kitchen. There are so many ways of getting yourself out there. Don’t be so careful that you create a lack of projects. 

How to build relationships with contractors on a job site

Jeannie believes this starts with recognizing your value and that you have valuable insight. You were chosen for that insight and expertise, and when you start there, in your mind, you don’t necessarily have to tell everyone about it, but when you truly believe it, you feel it, and then you show up as such. 

“I believe there is no better way to start a project and start a relationship with a new team member, such as a contractor, than knowing that you are valuable, that your opinion matters, that you have talent, and that you are meant to be there,” says Jeannie. 

If you truly believe those things, you will be able to start that relationship off with a lot more confidence and then, from then on, effectively manage it better. 

There are times when things can go awry with a contractor, and things aren’t being communicated effectively, or they’re not responding effectively. Resolving this, again, starts with your beliefs. Because if you believe that you are meant to be there, have valuable expertise, have valuable insight, and that you’re there to work together, you’re going to find a solution much sooner than you would otherwise.

The moment that a relationship is not going in an effective direction, you don’t want to ignore it. You want to take a moment and pause and say, “Hey, can we connect on this thing?” 

This is just like every other relationship in your life, and as much as you may think you don’t need them or need a good relationship with them, you do. 

It’s a really good reminder that you’re working with men, and men are not as open and not as great of communicators as we are and don’t have the emotions and feelings we do, and sometimes it will take us asking, what’s going on? To get them to open up and feel like they have a safe space to do so. 

It’s not just about the drywall and the doors. It’s about managing that team so that your client’s project can move forward as scheduled. 

Another issue designers may have with contractors is if that contractor brought them onto the job, and they see something that needs to be addressed, but they don’t want to call him out or ruffle feathers. 

You may be worried that the contractor won’t recommend you again for the next project, so what should you do?

This is the time to ask yourself if this is someone you would really want to work with on the next project anyway. 

If a contractor brought you onto a job and you were thankful for it. Which you can be – you can be thankful for it and want it to go better than how it’s currently going because the contractor isn’t providing the communication or process necessary to allow it to be successful. 

Don’t think about it as calling them out, that’s a label that will have you run and hide. It’s calling a meeting to address how can this possibly go better? How can we work together better? 

If they have some sort of problem with that and they feel called out by it, I think the more you approach it as not being that way, the less threatening it is to them. The more you focus on ‘we are on the same team here,’ the more approachable you will be, and the more you focus on the solution, the better this conversation will go.

If they are upset by this, then I don’t know if you’d want to work on the next project with this person. There are other contractors out there who are a better fit for you, who will bring you on projects, and who you will enjoy working with more. 

So, let’s spend more time positioning ourselves to meet those people rather than feeling desperate and graspy that we need this person to recommend us to the next project because that just might not be true. 

I hope you enjoy today’s conversation and gain some valuable insight on creating boundaries and building relationships with your team!

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