trade tales | Dec 10, 2021 |
10 designers share their year-end business traditions

The end of the year is a time filled with traditions, but how does that concept translate to a business? We asked 10 designers—Rozit Arditi, Klaus Baer, Demi Campbell, Matthew Caughy, Michael Cox, Imani James, Margie Lavender, Marguerite Rodgers, Katie Spalding and Anne Wagoner—if they have annual year-end practices for their firms.

Imani James
Imani JamesCourtesy of Imani James

Best practices
“The end of the year has always been a wonderful opportunity for my firm to conduct business hygiene, which allows us to assess what’s working well and where we have opportunities for the upcoming year. As an example, we often prepare a ‘stop doing’ list to remove tasks and expenses that are no longer relevant to the business, such as expensive monthly subscriptions. Other examples include [thoroughly reassessing] our fee structure and whether we are in line with the evolving market. Lastly, and most importantly, we survey clients to ensure we capture their feedback and apply any lessons toward improving the value proposition to maintain a premium client experience.” —Imani James, Imani James Interiors, Atlanta

Katie Spalding
Katie SpaldingCourtesy of Katie Spalding

Better to give
“There's no better way to start the new year than ending the last one on a high note. My favorite year-end tradition is sending holiday gifts to our vendors. Of course, we give gifts to our clients as well, but our vendors really appreciate the gesture. It also helps all of those mid-December installs go more smoothly!” —Katie Spalding, Sway Studio, San Francisco

Anne Wagoner
Anne WagonerCourtesy of Anne Wagoner

Financial review
“The end of each year is the perfect time to reevaluate fees as they apply to the current economic climate and how that affects team input, lead times, inflation and overhead. Since our clients are charged a flat rate for the conceptual phase of their design, I also use this time to reconcile internal time billing with each project rate. The new year is a natural transition for business model updates, as it coincides with industry-wide price increases. Our annual reviews coincide with employee start dates, so this isn’t typically associated with year-end for our firm.” —Anne Wagoner, Anne Wagoner Interiors, Raleigh, North Carolina

Rozit Arditi
Rozit ArditiCourtesy of Rozit Arditi

Celebrate and reflect
“The year’s end is an exciting time for us as a team. We take advantage of this time to send out gifts to our vendors and clients, finalize any outstanding items with current projects and get new projects ready to have the ball rolling for January 1. Our year-end traditions include reflecting on the highs and lows of the year and celebrating what’s to come with a bottle of bubbly. Then, we take a week or two off for ourselves!” —Rozit Arditi, Arditi Design, New York

Matthew Caughy
Matthew CaughyCourtesy of Matthew Caughy

Time to declutter
“We like to start each new year with clear direction and an organized studio. That means making sure each project is in order and all outstanding lists are up to date. We also work to edit our design library to keep only what we love and want to use. End-of-year organizing and editing is our way of preparing for an exciting year ahead!” —Matthew Caughy, Matthew Caughy Interiors, New York

Demi Campbell
Demi CampbellCourtesy of Demi Campbell

Lessons learned
“My year-end business traditions consist of assessing my processes. Generally, when I finish a project, I like to make notes of lessons learned. This could be anything from contract verbiage changes to miscommunications with clients or automating business processes to move things along quicker. At the end of the year, I go through a mental brain dump of these notes and apply any changes or improvements to my business model. My goal is to always learn from previous mistakes so that I can do better on the next project.” —Demi Campbell, Decor by Demi, Atlanta

Michael Cox
Michael CoxCourtesy of Michael Cox

A tidy transition
“We like to tidy up the year by updating mailing lists—so many addresses changed during what I’m calling the ‘great migration’ of the last two years; scheduling next year’s holidays; finalizing year-end numbers with the accounting firm; and planning our year-end office party. Everyone celebrates the accomplishments of the year and leaves for a weeklong vacation knowing ‘the house’ is in order for our return in the new year.” —Michael Cox, Foley & Cox, New York

Marguerite Rodgers
Marguerite RodgersCourtesy of Marguerite Rodgers

Goal-oriented
“Throughout the year, my senior team and I have goals and objectives that we outline, discuss and strive toward. Toward the end of the year, we look at the goals to evaluate how they have evolved and what we are looking to achieve in the coming year. We reflect on how the objectives are tied to our financial goals, projections and overall vision. We always have a date attached to these goals, which can be one week, one month or five years. We are then able to communicate to the whole team what we are looking to achieve in the year to come so that they are excited to be on the journey.” —Marguerite Rodgers, Marguerite Rodgers Interior Design, Philadelphia

Klaus Baer
Klaus BaerCourtesy of Klaus Baer

Retreat and regroup
“About seven years ago, we started hosting an annual company retreat in early January for a full day. The point of the retreat was to get everyone out of the office, have a moment to work on the business, do something fun, and do some team-building. Our activities have included cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ropes courses, giant group snow sledding, furniture design competitions and a game night. These retreats have proven to be a terrific way to get everyone out of the office and get people who typically don’t spend time together to do so. At each retreat, we also spend a few hours reviewing the year [and the] status of the studio and looking ahead. This year, we’re using a few hours of the retreat to work on a company-wide project to develop our internal training curriculum and new-hire training syllabus.” —Klaus Baer, WRJ Design, Jackson, Wyoming

Margie Lavender
Margie LavenderCourtesy of Margie Lavender

Come together
“We always schedule year-end individual discussions with our team members to reflect on successes, where there is room to grow and [there are] goals for the coming year. This is an opportunity for us to connect outside of the everyday hustle of projects and reflect on ways we can all be better together. Like last year, we’ll host a virtual holiday party again out of concern for safety, but traditionally we’ve also had some clever soirees like a city-wide scavenger hunt that landed at an upscale Mexican restaurant in Chinatown, a mixology contest, and a found object sculpture contest—all of which revealed hidden talents among our staff!” —Margie Lavender, Ike Kligerman Barkley, New York

Homepage photo: A project by Foley & Cox | Photo by Rudi Wyhlidal

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