The joy of interior design lies in creating beautiful spaces that expertly answer client needs, whether for a serene primary suite, a studious home office, a robust open kitchen or a welcoming entryway. But let’s be blunt: Nobody joins the profession for the paperwork. To build a successful business, though, all those back-end operational tasks are equally important, if a lot less fun. Square gets that. Its integrated suite of easy-to-use small-business software—consolidated across a single dashboard—streamlines the daily administrative duties, leaving you with more time to devote to the parts of your business you truly love. Advertisement Square takes care of the small stuff so you can focus on the big picture

Square, the San Francisco–based mobile payment platform established in 2009, supports interior designers in three primary ways that span the key stages of a project. By standardizing and organizing estimates, quotes and contracts, it helps you secure new work. To better maintain client relationships, it manages your directory of contacts. And it automates invoicing and tracks accounts (received and outstanding) in real time so that you get paid—fast.

Designers navigate a complicated balance between providing a service to clients and purchasing high-value goods like furniture and appliances in order to fulfill that service. “For designers, positive cash flow is king,” says Jesse Lopez, product marketing lead for the company. “Square allows you to see it all in one place, through at-a-glance charts, graphs and reports, across any number of devices.” The platform makes it a cinch to keep an eye on your bottom line and ensure you’re always in the black.

Square can also automate a firm’s systems, eliminating the back-and-forth with clients and accelerating the path to payment. For example, project estimates can be as meticulously detailed as your heart desires, outlining gold-, silver- and bronze-level packages the client can select with one click. The corresponding contract can then be auto-generated for e-signature. “Both estimates and invoices are widely customizable because Square systems are built to adapt to whatever complexity a business has,” says Lopez. When job milestones reach completion, progressive invoices can be issued as part of a preprogrammed billing cycle. “Or if you have a flat consultation fee, build that template, save it in your item library, and when it’s time to charge for the service, just hit send.” Customers can pay via a range of secure options, in person or online, including credit and debit cards, gift cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, ACH bank transfers, SMS links, and even good old cash or check. The company's mobile point-of-sale hardware—the chip and contactless card reader is aptly a literal square—has become standard at many independent businesses nationwide.

“The ability to collect payment of any kind from anywhere using any device—that’s powerful,” says Lopez. Businesses often sign up for Square, he adds, when they realize how much time they’re expending on the accounting equivalent of herding cats: keeping track—sometimes across multiple apps—of who has been billed, who has already paid, and who is past due and needs to be chased. “Square takes care of all that,” he says.

Aside from itemizing expenses and organizing payments, Square’s branding features can help solo entrepreneurs and smaller firms in particular promote their business. Unlike other platforms that merely accept payments, Square emphasizes brand awareness by incorporating a company’s logo and letterhead in all of its applications. “More than possibly any other profession, interior designers care about the image they present,” Lopez says. “With Square, everything you send can reinforce that identity,” resulting in an aesthetically cohesive experience for your clientele.

Digital receipts also include a section for customer comments, giving designers individualized feedback that they can evaluate to fine-tune their business practices. All such data—name and contact info, but also performance ratings, payment methods and loyalty points—is automatically saved to your directory, Square’s customer relationship management (CRM) function, creating 360-degree profiles of each client that you can quickly pull up on your phone, tablet or laptop. Targeted email marketing campaigns, seasonal newsletters and special offers can be sent on schedule to your entire directory or to specific customer segments.

From first interactions to final invoices, says Lopez, Square “helps you stay ahead of the curve.”

This story is a paid promotion and was created in partnership with Square.

Homepage photo: Square can easily be used on the go. | Courtesy of Square

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