The Four Essential Pillars of a Profitable Design Studio

Article written by Jane

What does it take optimize your design studio to deliver a second-to-none customer experience, increase option sales and maximize overall profitability?

Well, there are four pillars that create the foundation for every successful design studio. And we’re talking about them today.

Commonly, builders focus on the physical design and layout of the studio itself — making sure it feels up-to-date, well equipped and beautifully designed. As you’ll see, your space IS incredibly important… but it’s not the only thing you and your team need to be aware of.

Take a look at the four pillars below and see how well you measure up…


It should come as no surprise that the perception of your design studio space is critical, from first impression right through to option selection and confirmation. For example, when we work with builders on optimizing their space, we look at creating a layout that strategically pulls people’s line of sight and attention in a way that will maximize impact, facilitate decision-making and support a smooth personalization experience (which translates to more option sales and overall profit).

Optimizing your “place” is about more than sight-lines: it also means the proper allocation of your floorspace to the categories that will bring the optimal ROI (Return on Investment). We believe all products are NOT created equal and some deserve much more space than others, based on their emotional and financial importance (among other factors).

A well-optimized space also means well-designed displays in the right places, which will elevate the perceived value of your products and encourage customers to interact with your samples through feel and touch. An in-depth exploration of how to optimize your space goes beyond the scope of this article, but it’s worth considering these points and other questions like:


  • Are our displays ergonomically designed?
  • Do our displays encourage interaction and exploration?
  • Do we properly balance the transactional and experiential elements of our studio?
  • Does our design studio environment increase both comprehension of and desire for the items we sell inside of it?


Profitable design studios have the right mix of products and an awareness of what’s trending at a given time for their target market (and in the right style, at the right price).

More specifically, highly-profitable design studios offer their customers a highly-targeted, strategically-derived assortment of products, with an appropriate variety of styles and price points for the single or varied target markets that the builder services.

Beyond that, an optimal product assortment takes advantage of more than just style trends… it makes sure every product is either a viable seller or an influencer (designed to affect the perception and evaluation of the other products in the studio).

Toll Brothers’ Pennsylvania Design Studio not only captured the Gold Award for Best Design Center in the Country, but it expertly balances the experiential elements required to increase desire, and the transactional elements necessary to facilitate decision-making.

If you offer all or most of the styles, finishes, sizes and colors available from your supplier, you may be inadvertently hindering your sales and your customers’ ability to make a decision — NOT a recipe for customer satisfaction. An optimal product assortment means that a builder has done the hard work on behalf of their buyer, by selecting products that support their target market’s wants and needs (and also making products available that support their brand image as a builder and weeding out product choices that are too similar).

An optimal product assortment is about finding the sweet-spot of not-too-few, not-too-many choices that will allow their buyers to find compelling value, choices they are excited about, and in an experience that is supported and guided (rather than overwhelming, confusing and frustrating).


A comprehensive, detail-oriented design studio process can be the difference between mayhem and a smooth experience for everyone involved. With the right policies, procedures and tools, you can dramatically boost your customer experience and eliminate common problems before they arise.

Are you struggling with too many “change orders” (we call these Late Change Requests) or custom requests (we call these Special Requests) that are causing cycle time delays, problems in the field, inefficient internal operations, and maybe even costly mistakes and customer frustration?

The right policies and processes will save time, money, and frustration, both for you and your buyers.

Are your policies and processes just “getting the job done” —  or are they truly world-class, eliminating frustration and mistakes, and resulting in super-satisfied buyers who are delighted to invest into their personalized home?

In other words, are you getting your buyers through the selections experience in slightly longer than the desired time frame, and with some bumps in the road?

 Are your design consultants doing the best job they can but still struggling to cram everything in so the buyer completes selections by the end of the final appointment? 

 Is your customer satisfaction through the design studio experience “adequate” or even “good”, but definitely not “stellar”? 

 Do you wish your buyers showed up for their design appointment more prepared? Do you wish your design consultants could spend more of the time in the design appointment really delighting your customers and providing more valuable information…but there’s just no time to do so?

Do your design consultants start each appointment without a complete buyer profile from the sales team (including why the buyer is moving, why they chose that floorplan, etc.) ?

Do you kind-of, sort-of know you should probably improve or update your current policies on number of appointments, deposit amounts, Late Change Requests, Custom Requests, but just haven’t gotten around to doing so?

If you answered yes, you’ve likely got some lurking process problems.


Training your design studio consultants is one of the most powerful investments you can make.

Even with a fantastic product offering, a beautiful design studio, and great processes behind the scenes, it’s likely that your design studio will fail to reach its potential if your design consultants aren’t able to bring the process together seamlessly, deliver a superb customer experience and, of course, motivate new home buyers to make those higher-level purchase decisions… all while being thrilled with the end result and the value they’ve received. It sounds like a tall order, but it’s absolutely achievable (more on that in a sec).

There is a shift that needs to happen  for a design consultant to move from being someone who is sufficient, but still effectively takes orders from customers, to being the type of Design Studio Rockstar who is able to positively influence customers and their purchase decisions.

How to make that transition is exactly what we’ll teach over two days at INFLUENCE.

At Success Strategies, we often think of design studio consultants as the all-important  gatekeepers: they are the stewards of the world-class customer experience we want to create for our customers. Investing in your design studio consultants and helping them build the skills they need is essential.

Invest in your people to create the design studio experience your customers deserve:

Developed exclusively for design studio and sales professionals (and their managers), the INFLUENCE Design Studio Training Event will give you and your team the proven techniques you need to increase your design studio profits and deliver the world-class customer experience your buyers want and deserve.

Over 2 days, you’ll learn the exact sales and value-building techniques you need to turn options into “must-haves”, overcome objections and make your products irresistible.

Learn more about INFLUENCE!