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Unlocked: Lloyd Princeton

WE RECENTLY CHATTED WITH FOUNDER AND PRINCIPAL CONSULTANT OF DESIGN MANAGEMENT COMPANY, LLOYD PRINCETON

Lloyd has guided firms to growth through realistic goal-setting through building the right team. From negotiating contracts to compensation plans, his expertise is frequently sought after when disputes arise between designers and their clients. His clients include a bevy of interior design, architecture and manufacturing clients. Lloyd presents us with the foundational things every interior designer should implement to position themselves for success!

 

1.GLEANING FROM ALL OF YOUR EXPERIENCE, WHAT’S YOUR BEST PIECE OF ADVICE FOR SOMEONE IN THEIR FIRST DESIGN JOB?

Treat your job like a business, not just a creative pursuit. People are hiring you for a service which has deadlines, budgets, and numerous resources that need to be managed. Never lose site of the fact that you are in business to fulfill client wishes and make money. If client expectations are not realistic, then this needs to be addressed as often as needed, otherwise the business venture starts skewing towards a not-for-profit!

Image: Fred Licht

2.YOU HELP SOLOPRENEURS AND LARGE DESIGN FIRMS OF ALL SIZES AND TENURES TRANSITION IN MANY WAYS TO BEST FIT THEIR NEEDS. FOR THE VETERAN DESIGNERS WHO HAVE HAD THEIR FIRM FOR 20 YEARS AND WANT TO MOVE ON, WHAT SHOULD BE THEIR FIRST STEP?

Learn AutoCAD. Step two: edit your portfolio to reflect your very best work with the very best images. Using the excuse of not having images because of having NDA’s doesn’t wash. Step three: 20 years of experience does not mean you have talent, it just means you’ve persevered. Ask someone you don’t have any emotional or financial connection with to evaluate your portfolio and then apply to positions consistent with your aesthetic and technical abilities.

 

3.WHAT VALUES AND SKILLS ARE INTERIOR DESIGN FIRMS LOOKING FOR IN THIS CURRENT JOB MARKET?

Technical skills (usually AutoCAD, Sketchup, familiarity with Studio Designer/Webware or Ivy), experience with the resources that the firm uses, ability to think without needing constant direction, and willingness to show-up and do the job.

4 .WHAT IS THE ADVANTAGE OF A DESIGN FIRM HAVING A TALENT RECRUITER, SUCH AS YOURSELF, FIND TEAM MEMBERS? TELL US ABOUT ONE OF YOUR GREATEST MATCHMAKER SUCCESSES.

The greatest advantage is having a search specialist focus full-time on a design firm’s talent needs. It’s not that different from the public hiring interior design professionals. We are trained to focus on the goal while our clients go about their priorities which means satisfying their own clients! In terms of matchmaking successes, we have many of them! People who enjoy working together are the greatest goal because so many skills and even aesthetics can be trained. We are in the people business and it’s just sooooo much easier when you/we like who we are working with. And since we guarantee placements for one year, our clients have plenty of time to test out new hires.

 

5. For the designers who have sole proprietorships and are looking to make their first hire, how should they prepare mentally and financially to ensure a healthy work environment?

Trust that they will be able to make money from their new hire by direct billing of their services to clients or through efficiency gained by having someone else do the tasks they have been struggling to do themselves. As I like to refer to certain tasks that I get burdened with, “they are beneath my paygrade.” Secondly, be organized and prepared to receive a new person and show them your systems. Every business operates differently, and setting up phones, computers, e-mail accounts, file access, explaining projects, the whole onboarding process takes time. Better to do over a weekend when the phones aren’t ringing than trying to cram into a busy Monday morning!

 

6. WOULD YOU PLEASE SHARE WITH US SOME “TELLING/OUTSIDE OF THE BOX” JOB INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYEES?

I think the best interviews are thorough ones. Give a candidate space to answer and don’t be afraid to probe more deeply on responses of concern. We administer a third-party personality profile that offers interview questions to be used when a candidate scores poorly in a certain area. However, here are just a few sample questions that can be used for general screening that one of our client uses:  What led you to the field of design? Tell me about some of the highlights of your design education. Who are some designers that you admire, and what do you like about their work? How do you like to get started on a new design project? Do you like working on a team or individually? What are some of your strategies for staying organized on a daily or weekly basis? What bookkeeping systems have you worked with? What has your role been in the purchasing cycle? Have you spent time at the local design center? What are some of your go-to vendors?

Image: 1stdibs

8. TELL US HOW YOU GOT INTO THIS BUSINESS AND WHAT IS THE MOST FULFILLING PART.

I started in the industry 25 years ago and was an Administrator for the California North Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers. It was a fascinating position with views of industry from a macro & micro perspectives: interior designers, design centers, showrooms, professional development. I was also blessed to have a robust speaking career, delivering professional development seminars throughout North America and internationally to groups of design and architecture professionals. Years later I still hear from attendees who say that my advice changed their careers and in some instances, their lives! I’m honored when I get this feedback!

 

9. IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT’S THE NEAR FUTURE FOR THE CULTURE OF THE INTERIOR DESIGN WORKPLACE?

I think that the work will become more defined and that designers and their employees alike will look to do their jobs and then live their lives. While it’s not going to be 9-5 per se, firms are now providing more time off then I’ve ever seen before. I have a new interior design firm coming on board that offers 15 days PTO and closes the last ½ of December—amazing! I’m very impressed with  the quality of life benefits many small (less then 10 people) design firms are now offering and it speaks to the reality: we work to live, not live to work. And the Principals of firms should not expect their staff to treat their business as they do because at the end of the day, their names are not on the door.