A Word of Advice

Badges of disaster

Article by Wan Yew Fai

This quote taken from a forum on a website in Singapore when a lady complained about the ID (Interior Design) company she appointed:

“it was really stressful. Had a few unhappy situations with my ID…. Is what I’m going through normal? Or I really got a lousy ID?”

Source from: (website: www.singaporebrides.com/forumboard/messages/409/507333.html?1212550109)

Sadly, it is normal and quite common. Many people shudder in fear when they realize they have to take charge of a fit out project.

Don’t be afraid but don’t hire a nightmare either. Although everyone wants to do a good job, there are many out there who are neither disciplined nor equipped nor skilled in the trade.

Look for the signs: Each symptom may not be significant or conclusive. However, bear in mind that many insignificant factors, taken collectively, can add up to something big! We have listed some symptoms for you.

Symptom 1:

Says one thing and does another – the game seems to be constantly changing. Things either seem incomplete or inaccurate.

Possible conclusion:

This person is not sure about the trade but is afraid to admit. He calls on his subcontractors and friends only to find out that he is wrong and now needs to retract. It may also be an indication of a person who is trying to wiggle an advantage and tries to wiggle out when things are not in his favor. It is not a good indication of an honest person that you are dealing with.

Symptom 2:

Says that everything can be done no matter how far fetched it seems.

Possible conclusion:

It is an indication of a person who has little project experience. You’ve got to dig deeper with this one and chances are many of the ideas cannot be realized. The project might not turn out like he said it would (may even look ugly) or it might a poor attempt at his grandiose plans. When you complain about it, he will make it sound like it came from your ideas and instructions in the first place or twist it in a way that seems to indicate that you have low budget and therefore the fantastic scheme cannot be realized in its entirety.

Symptom 3:

Takes a long time to respond to a simple query or email.

Possible conclusion:

This is the greedy guy who takes on more than he can chew, hoping to profit from all sides. However, something has got to give and he will cost you time! Chances are that he also suffers delays in other projects that will result in unhappy customers who will in turn withhold payment thereby leading the company to financial difficulty.

Symptom 4:

More concerned about getting money than discussing the output.

Possible conclusion:

This is a sign that the company is in financial difficulty and cannot fulfill its obligations: Go do a financial check soonest possible! He has to get his deposit to fund the losses he has incurred.

Symptom 5:

Flashy lifestyle and excessive entertainment activities.

Possible conclusion:

This one is sad. Many dream of getting down from a Ferrari, passing the keys to a valet and then trotting up to be entertained at the upper lounges of high class nightclubs. It is commonly thought that once this lifestyle becomes a habit, you have “made it”. Sadly, the truth is that such a lifestyle will sap not only one’s energies but also the financial resources of a company and bills can trot up to more than thousands of dollars per night. How is it possible do this and continually concentrate and act on project demands the next day? More importantly, have they worked these expenses into their billing to you?

Symptom 6:

Unable to use IT tools.

Possible conclusion:

In this era of e-filing, e-application and e-submission, he will not be able to get you the permits or do the required submissions effectively. Your outlet may not get the needed licenses in a timely manner. Also, IT allows you to view 3-D presentations, drawings and facilitate communication no matter where you may be. The factor compromised, again, is time and rental cost.

Symptom 7:

Instead of recommending solutions like an expert, he waits for you to instruct and tell him what to do – even on technical matters.

Possible conclusion:

It’s an inexperienced and unskilled person you are dealing with: He’s not likely to be able to come up with some creative ideas or creative solutions – you might as well be the ID.

We have heard many of such stories as illustrated above, many of them coming from our own pool of customers who have had such experiences before.

Pre-requisites of an interior business

One cannot just walk into an interior business: It is imperative to have these qualities: –

  1. Good creative mind with a willingness and passion to learn;
  2. Able to understand technical matters;
  3. An ability to do detailed planning – the most important word being “detailed”;
  4. Skilled in IT to do all the applications, submissions and drawings;
  5. A disciplined, calm, thorough, organized and responsible personality;
  6. A willingness to spend the time to train, instruct, monitor and follow up;
  7. To be financially astute: Contract sums are large and you will need to keep track of large sums and large bills from numerous sources.

Customer must also play a part

The customer on the other hand must also realize that

  1. People need to make a living and pushing it might be detrimental to the eventual output, as the builder tends to cut corners.
  2. For the three qualities “Good”; “Fast” and “Cheap”; at best, you can only have two and a half out of three;
  3. There must be one instructing party and one set of instructions. Too many leaders will confuse the ID company; and
  4. Too many unplanned changes will create a high chance for mistakes to happen later.