Sydney-based Perth native Jane Brown recently won the Best of Houzz 2015 award for Design & Customer Service for her company, Jane Brown Interiors.
Houzz, a leading international platform for home renovation, selected Jane Brown Interiors from more than 500,000 home professionals worldwide. The site has 25 million users internationally.
Brown spent five years living in New York City and operating her business there, before she returned to Australia in 2014. When she first moved to the Big Apple she didn’t have a single client and didn’t know a soul in her industry locally.
Take advantage of events in your local area
In a business where word-of-mouth and repeat business is crucial, Brown got involved with a NYC school fundraising auction by auctioning a package of her services.
The family that “won” her services was thrilled with the work she did for them and she quickly gained their trust. That soon led to more work for more clients in the area and then things just “snowballed” for Jane Brown Interiors in the city.
Her company specialises in home styling, interior design, home and office organisation and productivity services. Since returning to Australia, Brown says most of her business has come either through the Houzz website or by word of mouth.
Over half her clients are repeat customers and many of them are undergoing renovations or extensions as more people are realising the value of upgrading their property in this current market.
Offer incentives for new client referrals
Brown offers a 10% discount to previous customers when they refer a new customer that results in new business. That way the company gets both that business and encourages the previous customer to use Brown’s services again. It’s a win-win situation for both the business and her clients.
Knowing your preferred market is key says Brown, especially when you are in a business where you need to work closely with your clients. “That way you have more fun and freedom with them,” she says.
Use what you have learnt
Brown says she uses everything she learnt from her previous employment and life experience and applies it to her business.
Prior to opening her interior design company 10 years ago Brown worked as an international flight attendant and also studied behavioural science when she was considering a career as a counsellor.
Brown says no matter what is going on in your life you have to focus 100% on the customer. “It has to be all about them".
She realised this many years ago when she was working in first class flying on an international flight to Africa.
Back home in Perth her father was seriously ill. “I had to put a big smile on my face and be totally customer-focused. Their needs had to be paramount to me and whatever was going on in my life and my head must not affect how I was carrying out my job.”
When dealing with suppliers Brown says the same principle – in reverse – is true. If there is a supplier who has the best carpets in the country but every time you deal with them everything they say is about “them” – they never ask about your business, your clients or about you – that makes you less likely to want to keep dealing with them.
You are more likely to go somewhere else that may even charge higher prices but where the customer experience is always positive.