The Cost of Inefficiency in the Interior Design Firm – Julia Molloy

The Cost of Inefficiency in the Interior Design Firm

The Cost of Inefficiency in the Interior Design Firm

Hi there! So much has happened since I last posted.  Life seems to be speeding up, I swear!  It’s all good though. Hope you’ve been doing great. Today, I thought I’d share some insight on a very common issue. I have been getting a lot of calls about increasing capacity lately. So many of you are in over your heads with work. It’s a real challenge to ramp up production.  I often get called in to do an On-Site Intensive or for the Business Blueprint to streamline and increase efficiency for the firm.  In my assessment, I can immediately gauge the health of a company by its turn-over, start and stop frequency and its task redirection frequency.

Inefficient and unhealthy working environments increase turn-over, decrease ability to attract the best team members and clients, lowers morale, lowers productivity, lowers company’s output capacity, lowers quality of Client  interaction and lowers overall project quality. It will ultimately lower your status as an interior designer in the eyes of your clients and peers. It is a vicious cycle that kills countless companies every year. It silently sucks the lifeblood out of the firm until it can no longer stay afloat.

You will see inefficiency taking its toll in many ways, including higher turn-over rate and lower gross income and higher operating costs. All of these translate to less net income for you and your firm.  On top of it all, you continue to feel like you can never catch up.  It’s truly exhausting. I know, I hear your story so often.  First, know that you are not alone. Two, this is a normal part of a growth cycle. And three, the quicker you move through this cycle, the better. Some never break through this barrier, but so many, with a few adjustments to their model power through to the other side.

What is a brilliantly creative and dynamic creature such as yourself to do?  Well, it is multi-faceted, but for starters,

  1.  Look at your team tasking and structure. Most often the core of the problem is the team responsibility flow.  julia-molloy-team-structure-model-for-a-boutique-interior-design-firm

2.   Develop and document standard procedures so everyone can be proactive and anticipate the next move.  Here’s a snapshot of a process checklist. Implementing these kind of system tools help everyone be more productive.


3.  Create an ‘office rhythm’ so that everyone can  get into a flow with their work and consolidate their moves. julia-molloy-office-rhythm-method

In the meantime, start paying attention to how many times people interrupt each other in your office during a week.   Here’s what you do: Ask everyone in your office to keep track of how many times they get interrupted by a team member each day.  Now multiply that number by 3 minutes. This is the average time it takes to get back on track and hit your momentum again after an interruption. Now multiply that by the pay rate of each employee and then do the math to figure out the annual total.  Now you have a partial estimate of how much you are spending on inefficiency.  It’s probably a pretty high number.  I’m interested to hear what figure you got.

Keep your thoughts on what you want, make sure to make self-care a priority during this high stress time andremember to breathe.  Everything in its own time. You are doing great.

“You are the flowers of the world. BLOOM BIG!”


Julia Molloy


Hi Molloy, Thanks for the post and your ‘offer’ to help analyse the efficiency worksheet. Can you still do this for me?

– Annabella

    Hi Anabella,
    For some reason, I am just now seeing your comment!!! If you are still in need of an assessment I would be happy to give you one.
    Call or email so we can be in touch-

    Kind regards,
    Julia Molloy


Thanks for this – can totally adapt for doing architecture/design at a high end construction company. (There is *no* definition to the workflow here; makes me crazy!) Any reading recommendations to think more about roles and processes on the arch/design side?

    Hi Julie,
    I know what you’re going through! I’ve worked with many Arch/Design firms over the last decade. There are several techniques for streamlining workflow. I could walk you through in less than an hour. If you want, call or email me and we can set up a quick consultation and I can get you situated. 🙂 503-208-2757 or


Hello Julia! I think I will need some more intensive help sometime in 2017. Reading your post makes me realize why I am feeling so spread thin. I am doing every job in the design accountability chart above. Yikes! I looked over the business blueprint page and didn’t see prices. Could you send me the cost of that and also the cost of an intensive (I don’t know that this is the option that I will need but want to know what to expect on both). As always, your posts and advice are always so helpful!

xoxo! Sharon Barrett

    Hi Sharon,

    Yes, doing EVERYTHING is like being on a treadmill! Let’s talk this week and figure out the best plan for you. Also, in the meantime, buy or get on Audible the book: E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. It is an easy read and soooo very important at this point in your growth curve. XO

Leave a Comment

Comment (required)

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Name (required)
Email (required)