DesignQ Austin Team Celebrates Successes During Pandemic
Austin, TX – DesignQ Austin is looking a little different lately after a major renovation that involved some important updates to the design centre’s look, as well as some much-needed changes to product offerings.
The team had discussed the need for an update last year and started planning what changes should be made. They decided to tackle large program updates like bringing new tiles into the showroom and removing hundreds of others that were discontinued or outdated.
Other updates included removing old options and adding new ones for cabinet styles and colours, plumbing fixtures/faucets for kitchens and wet bars, vinyl plank and carpet, door hardware and finishes, lighting fixtures, paint colours, window coverings, and countertops.
Brenda Carranza, Design Manager, DesignQ Austin, said the small team (made up of herself and two designers) has already been hearing positive feedback from customers about the changes made.
“Buyers are seeing brand new options and are loving the ability to customize to fit each unique style while maintaining the production timeline and without breaking the bank,” she said. “The displays are also now more accurate as far as how we build today, so buyers have a better understanding of how options will work and be reflected in their homes.”
Most of the major renovations were completed in April this year, and the team is now just waiting on new door hardware displays and a new window coverings display, which should be completed by this July.
The timing of the renovation completion was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions, as were product offerings.
“There have been so many discontinued products and pricing changes due to the pandemic,” Brenda said. “We are also experiencing material shortages through all of our vendors. Even seemingly small things like shortages in chemicals used to mix and create adhesives are affecting all kinds of materials used to build homes and finish-out materials.”
This has made things challenging for designers and customers alike, as the DesignQ Austin team has had to backorder materials. Sometimes, replacement selections are required months after customers’ design appointments, which can be difficult for those who have had their heart set on something very specific.
Luckily, the design team can draw on their experience and the design centre’s resources to ensure suitable replacement selections are made so that customers don’t feel like they’re missing out and that production timelines are still met wherever possible.
The team has also implemented a number of things to improve customer appointments, many of which ended up being very useful during the pandemic.
With the use of an iPad stand and virtual meeting software, designers are able to hold virtual appointments with customers, during which they can discuss selection options and show customers the design centre using the rolling stand, so it’s almost like the customers are there in person. Screen sharing can also help designers share pricing and diagrams.
Another helpful tool is deco packages, which were originally created for a particular plan series to decrease the number of customers coming through the design centre in person. As well, the DesignQ Austin team took a few days when the pandemic first hit the city to create a digital showroom packet, which includes every option available in the design centre, along with pictures.
These proved to be valuable during the pandemic, as they allowed customers to see from home what selections were available to them, and all necessary paperwork could be done over the phone and signed off on through DocuSign. In fact, this option ended up expediting the processes overall and became more popular with customers than the team had anticipated.
Aside from the pandemic, the Austin housing market is experiencing a boom and that has meant that supplies are in high demand, making it even more difficult to ensure that customers are able to get the finishes and fixtures they want. It has also meant an increase in prices across the board.
Brenda noted that despite the many challenges the team is facing, they have been working hard to keep customers happy, and have been very successful in doing so. This is particularly impressive given that the design centre is the smallest DesignQ location in operation.
“The design team has continued to excel at what they do,” she said, “selling options and providing outstanding customer experiences. We had a 37% increase in upgrade options sold in March 2021 alone. That was a record for us and we are so proud that our hard work shows.”
Things do not appear to be slowing down for the team anytime soon, as appointments are being scheduled 60 days in advance and the team’s schedule has been full. By adapting well to the challenges presented by both the pandemic and the high-demand market, the DesignQ Austin team has been showing just how resilient they can be and continuing to provide customers with exceptional service every day.
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