3 Ways Interiorscapers Can Adjust in 2021
Growing up, whenever my mom dropped me off at the mall to hang out with my girlfriends it was like a rite of passage. We’d have a blast looking at all the crazy items at Spencer’s and then if we ran into some boys we liked at school—that was teenage heaven. The mall was where you went to socialize, fight the crowds during the holidays, and find anything you needed to survive in a material world. The mall was where I had my first interiorscaping retail location over a decade ago.
They say, when a mall goes under, it has some of the most detrimental impacts for the community around it. For my interiorscape business, I used to design for several malls locally around southern Florida and it was once one of the most sought-after accounts. Unfortunately, the last time I did any business with a retail shopping center was in 2011. With more and more brick-and-mortar stores sadly declaring bankruptcy, this particular opportunity for interiorscape revenue seems to be fading.
There’s another possible, even bigger decline I’m hoping won’t continue. The majority of my interiorscape accounts are office locations. For the past few months, most of the employees have been working remotely from home. In some cases, the entire staff hasn’t stepped foot inside their building since March. In another location, the board of directors just voted not to return to their headquarters until April 2021, even with the vaccine becoming more widely available.
If these businesses can still operate with their staff working from home, why would they spend thousands in leasing office space, utility bills, stocking break rooms with utensils, coffee, toilet paper, paper towels, office supplies plus pay for the housekeeping to clean after them? If a company can close their doors for almost a year and keep the business operating, is the expense of an office justified?
One of my clients also told me she is having a difficult time getting staff to return. Most of them want to work from home where their commute is simply from one room to another. They don’t have to sit in traffic two hours a day, pay for parking, can wear yoga pants and be at home with their families. Both employers and employees are able to save money this way. I can definitely see the benefits, and believe more companies may start to operate this way in the future.
In my lifetime, corporations and retail giants that have been around for a century have gone out of business because they weren’t able to adapt. The pandemic has accelerated both positive and negative trends. For interiorscapers adjusting to this “new normal,” that may mean rethinking business plans and marketing focus. Here are a few ideas with ways to shift your business to adapt.
If I’m correct about more people working from home, then focusing on gaining residential clients needs to be a priority. One big advantage now is the ability to reach potential customers using social media. Though it can be a cheap way to market your business, the tough part is devoting time to create posts. Your pages have to be regularly updated with eye-catching photos and useful information.
Getting involved in local Facebook pages and using groups has helped my son-in-law with his residential landscape business. I started using Instagram a few months ago, and really appreciate the ability to reach people within my service area. I try to make my posts more informative, and share information on “how to get your orchid to re-flower” instead of simply saying that I have orchids for sale. Whatever social media platform I use, I have to be committed to updating regularly and sharing unique content.
Anything that I can sell online could generate another stream of income. Shipping live plants is risky. Legally, you need to have a department of agriculture certification to take plants across state lines. Packaged extremely well and mailed with the fastest delivery possible, it can be done and there are several companies that have success with this business model. If you think that’s an option for your business, I would recommend ordering a plant from other companies to see how they are able to accomplish it without destroying the plant. Since artificial foliage and holiday décor is part of my services, I tend to digitally promote more of those items that can withstand being shipped across the country.
Vintage Shows & Farmer’s Markets
When I closed down my retail location, I started selling at some local vintage venues and weekend markets. I enjoy setting up my booth, meeting new people and the market atmosphere. If you have someone to partner with or the budget to hire help, that takes a lot of stress away. Just like any retail venture, some days at these markets are going to be busy and some slow.
I highly recommend researching the venue before investing your time and money. Markets in high-income and tourist areas are often much more successful. Going to the event as a patron will give you the best perspective to see if this venue is a fit for your business. The upside of doing a weekend market is if it doesn’t work out, it’s a small investment and only a three-day commitment compared to leasing a retail location.
2021 will certainly have its own challenges. However, whatever happens, I’ll have other options and a plan to generate more revenue.
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