Ever wonder why some design studios post claims of substantial increases in per-home revenue and others don’t?  Why some design studio environments add to the builder’s bottom line and others subtract from it? Why some design studios result in raving fans and massive referral sales and why other studios are just new, perhaps “prettier” places where the same old problems persist?  Or why some builders claim to close new home sales in their design center week after week and others keep failing to convert hot prospective buyers?

Trust me on this: the devil is in the details. Really. The “behind-the-scenes” details. Hundreds of them which have to do with site lines controlling the experience, allocation of floor space which promotes strong ROI, the right balance between privacy and visual stimulation, proper space planning which supports a variety of different visitor groups and their often contrasting needs, a granular-level intensity on product specifications and showcasing, plus a strategy-based approach to creating realistic simulated environments (vignettes) throughout the studio. Just to name a few of the not-really-so-magical details.

Not to mention interactive and ergonomically correct product displays which prompt mental ownership, increase the perceived value of the products, influence which products the shopper’s eyes go to, aid in product comprehension and facilitate decision making.

I’ve had builders call me to figure out why their investment of a few hundred thousand dollars is not paying off the way they had hoped.  They tell me they visited another studio they liked, or saw some photos, and think they did a good job of replicating what they saw, but can’t figure out why their designs studio “just isn’t making as much money as it should”.

Here’s an analogy: let’s say I wanted to open a restaurant.  Would it be a smart business decision to visit a few local restaurants or surf the web looking for some photos of hot restaurants, and then ask my team, or my local architect, to “do something like that”.  Maybe I’m a great chef, or intelligent business person but don’t have any indepth understanding of how successful restaurants work, so I hire someone who worked at one local restaurant that seemed to do ok.  But chances are good that when building my new restaurant, I’d miss the strategy behind structuring the seating in the facility to maximize revenue or to create a superb ambiance that ultimately creates the “buzz” that makes my restaurant successful; I’d miss the all-important financial and trend analysis that determined how menu items are selected and created, described on the menu, and presented to the customer (all of which are required to maximize revenue) ; I’d miss the carefully planned understanding of the meticulously-crafted dining experience and how the design of the restaurant itself supports that world-class experience; and I’d surely miss how the design of the kitchen enabled an efficient, well-run “back-office” which allowed the public dining room to function so superbly.  I probably wouldn’t even be aware of the training the restaurant staff received when the restaurant opened which enabled them to perform on a level which maximized the facility’s carefully-crafted potential.

I’d look across the street at the popular “in” dining spot, and think:  “What are they doing over there that makes that place so successful? I tried to make mine look like that…why aren’t we making money? What’s so magical about their place?”

The magic is not what you see. It’s what’s unseen that makes square footage transcend transactional, blast past “pretty” and land solidly onPROFITCENTER. And like magic in general, it just looks effortless…it’s really the carefully-crafted illusion that you see. The reality is that it took years of topic research, hard practice, and unrelenting devotion to create that magic success, whether it’s a headlining magician making a beautiful woman miraculously disappear, a restaurant that somehow has the “it’ factor and turns its owner into an “overnight” success, or a design studio that drives new home sales, maximizes per-home revenue, and creates highly satisfied customers. So…do you believe in magic?



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