Episode 062: Simple Solutions for Adding Revenue to your Business with Chad Smith
My next guest is Chad Smith, a seasoned entrepreneur and Director of SideDoor. If you are unfamiliar with SideDoor, it is a free online marketplace for interior designers, e-designers, and stagers. It allows you to shop and curate products into sharable collections that you can sell to your clients directly or add to your website and social media pages.
In this episode, Chad and I chat about the benefits of using a service like SideDoor to help procure products and handle the logistics so you can focus on designing. If setting up accounts with multiple vendors takes up too much of your time, SideDoor helps streamline the process and adds another revenue stream to your business.
Michelle Lynne began her interior design career after spending more than two decades working in Corporate America. She began in the home staging arena and has since built a successful, award-winning, full-service interior design firm, employing talented designers and serving clients across the country.
In the summer of 2018, Michelle began focusing on a big gap she saw missing in the interior design industry: teaching interior designers how to run the business of an interior design business. She now engages in private coaching and leads an in-depth, 12-month group coaching program, both options focus on teaching designers profitable processes, systems, strategies and mindset needed to run a streamlined, profitable interior design firm.
Her motto is simple: we rise by lifting others.
Connect with Michelle
You can follow Michelle on Instagram or join her Free Facebook Community! You can learn more about Michelle's program, Designed for the Creative Mind right here. You can also learn more about Michelle's Interior Design Firm here.
Thank you to our sponsors for their support!
Satanoff Insurance is focused on client connections and customized coverage … Be sure to tell them we sent you!
Foyr Interior Design Software helps you create 3D floor plans & Interior Designs … Check them out!
Michelle Lynne: Well, hello, welcome back to the podcast, everybody. I am so excited that you're here. I have Chad Smith, he is the director of SideDoor. More than likely, if you're in the interior design industry, you've heard of SideDoor. Well, today we're going to be talking about all sorts of things that have to do with your revenue and digital platforms, and just all the must haves. So without further ado, let me welcome Chad and say thank you so much for joining me.
Chad Smith: Yeah, my pleasure. Thanks for having me, Michelle.
Michelle Lynne: Absolutely. Well, for those of you who might have been at High Point, Chad and I had the opportunity to do a panel at Universal To The Trade showroom, and just had such a great time chatting, I wanted to continue that conversation and potentially expand on it. So let's just first of all, I want to talk about just briefly what SideDoor is. So if people don't know who you are or what your platform is, just a quick overview of that, dig into some topics, and then potentially circle back around.
Chad Smith: Sure. Yeah.
Michelle Lynne: What is SideDoor?
Chad Smith: In a nutshell, it's a password-protected marketplace for interior designers. That means if you have a resale certificate, and you're running a professional design service, you can join, it's free. And when you come in, we've got a couple hundred brands in there that you can both shop from, but more importantly, you can use our digital sales tools that are free also. And use your tastes, curate products that you like, share them directly with clients one on one, or embed them and sell them through your website, on your social media and mood boards, blog posts, etc. It's a selling tool for professional designers.
Michelle Lynne: I love that. And for those of us who have chased the shiny object syndrome, in our careers, I, at one point was trying to monetize products on my website. And it was just a technical pain in the booty, a logistical pain in the booty, and so forth. But I think it's so important for us as business people to have multiple streams of income. So I kind of want to go down that direction, and revenue and just how we can leverage different platforms and different tools like yours, and so forth. So what brought you to this point at SideDoor as the director?
Chad Smith: Well, for better or worse, I've been in this industry, pretty much my whole life. My mom is an interior designer, she also has a retail store. My wife's a designer, my sister's a designer, so I'm surrounded by strong, very powerful women. I've had seven different businesses in the home furnishings/interior design space as an entrepreneur. I've kind of seen it from all sides. Been a distributor, a manufacturer, done some like private label production, had a retail shop, been a consultant, blah, blah, blah. And really, it was kind of all leading me to what was inevitable in this old-school industry, which was how to bring all of that and bring it online.
Michelle Lynne: Yes, and when you say old school and I'm thinking, I still have vendors who I need to fax my orders to.
Chad Smith: Yes, it's painful. It's painful and it's not only costing you efficiency and money, but it's costing the industry as a whole, a lot of wasted time, a lot of inefficiency. So in a nutshell, the last five years or so, through a couple of different things, I've been working to bring the home furnishings industry, as in brands, online but also bring the interior designer as a group online, because as you know, like they're super powerful super, you know valued customers for everyone but because it's so fragmented, as a group there's no real way to leverage all the purchasing power you have.
Michelle Lynne: Right.
Chad Smith: Which is substantial, like as a group, designers, you know, are specifying $77 billion worth of product. But you're also the ones that are getting squeezed out of the profits on those products in a lot of ways. And as COVID happened, and everything even further and further rushed to get online, brands, social media platforms, you know, eCommerce sites, everyone's hustling, and everyone wants to sell to designers. But a lot of those old-school business models just aren't capable of really serving and protecting the interior designer and all of the different needs and use cases you may have. That's what we, that's what we're constantly trying to build. It's not, you know, perfect. We're a work in progress. We're constantly adding in functions and features, but the intention is to let interior designers use their tastes and be competitive online, and support you as you work one on one offline. But we believe firmly that if like you want to grow and scale your business, it's going to happen online. Your customers are going to look for you online. And then once you have them, you need to be able to sell to them in a digital transparent way.
Michelle Lynne: So do I need to be an influencer in order to make money online? Because like, I don't have like thousands and thousands and thousands of people following me.
Chad Smith: No, most certainly you do not. And we see that every day.
Michelle Lynne: Whew!
Chad Smith: A lot of people absolutely don't want that like, and I totally get that too. You don't need to be, you know, have 100,000 followers by any stretch, it really doesn't matter how many followers you have.
Michelle Lynne: Okay, next question is, do I need to do those silly little dances on reels?
Chad Smith: You probably pull it off, but most people can't.
Michelle Lynne: Oh, dear Lord, no. No, I am one to make fun of myself but I will not be doing a little dance and like pointing at words.
Chad Smith: I hear you. Designers have to have a lot of talents, I don't think you need that one. That's not necessary.
Michelle Lynne: That's good. I barely learned how to skip when I was younger so my rhythm is fair to partly cloudy. Okay, so talking about different revenue streams. One of the, you know, some of the stuff that I teach in my paid program is that, of course, you have full-service concierge interior design clients, not every client that contacts me or us as a whole is going to be full-service interior design. I mean, it would be a dream, if that was the case. But then we have clients that want to have us, maybe, and it could even be eDesign, they have us choose the selections and put it down on a space plan, and then I hand it to them and they have to go do all of the shopping. Right? So I love the fact that SideDoor can allow me to send them a shopping list where they go get what I suggest, and some of it might be retail, I know you have like Our House on the platform, and some of it might be to the trade that they can't necessarily get otherwise. And then I still, I'm not giving away all my profits when we go through SideDoor. So that's one of the benefits. One of the reasons I wanted to have this conversation to share with other designers is you don't have to send them to PotteryBarn.com. But you can send them the shopping list and, explain how that, how does that work? If I wanted to do an eDesign for a client here in Dallas, or a client on the West Coast. Does it matter?
Chad Smith: It matters not at all. What matters to you as a, you know, designer who wants to do eDesign is how do you do it profitably. Unlike your one-on-one clients, this is something that you can scale. Like, there's only so many hours of the day to bill for your time, so many design fees you can charge, and so many clients you can serve personally. Though with eDesign and mood boards and websites and social media channels, you can curate your own product lists, your own style, use your taste, use your knowledge of the products, of the ways to put things together, and you can sell it more than once. Like, if you're doing eDesign and you're putting a package together and maybe it's custom just for that client after a, you know, intake survey or whatever you've done.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah.
Chad Smith: Great. What our tool allows you to do is not have to come out of pocket, buy those things, and resell them to your client. We just give you a way for that exact product if the client chooses it, for them to buy it at the retail price. We fulfill the order and because it came from your taste and your collection, we're going to pay you the designer, the full designer commission. So if I could take a step back Michelle, people, usually at the end, are wondering, like how do these guys make any money? Can I address that?
Michelle Lynne: Absolutely. I think that's a great question.
Chad Smith: So like, this isn't a nonprofit business here, like we
Michelle Lynne: This isn't a charity? An interior design charitable contribution?
Chad Smith: I mean we've got 40-something people on the staff now, we've got a lot of engineering that we're building, we're trying to build a full suite of tools that kind of unlock the creatives, the designers, business models in a supportive way. And y'all need a lot of things. You're doing a lot of jobs, and we're trying to do this and do right by you. The way we're able to do it and make it free for designers and still pay you the full commission is just the way our industry historically has been set up. A lot of these brands, for instance, had all these barriers, they had minimum orders you have to meet, you have to have a brick and mortar store, the net result of some of these brands had six to eight different price levels, which is crazy. What we're doing is setting up our own accounts that we negotiate with these brands. So we're the vendor of record.
Michelle Lynne: Based on the volume.
Chad Smith: For the brands, exactly. So we get set up at like a true wholesale or a volume or like a true stocking dealer price. So as SideDoor, we're taking these orders in, we're placing the order at the say a wholesale, or I'll call it stocking dealer price. And then we're able to let you buy it from us at the brand's non-stocking dealer price, we don't manipulate that. But we also let you buy it without meeting any minimums or without having to set up your own account.
Michelle Lynne: Because you've already handled all of that.
Chad Smith: Exactly, exactly. So as a designer, you can come in and search, see what's in stock across a couple hundred brands and buy stuff. And then you can mark it up and resell it however you want. Or as a designer, you can just use your taste, curate products from these hundreds of thousands of SKUs, and show it on your website. Or say you're just working one-on-one with the client, show them five different table lamps from five different vendors, the client picks one, we're going to handle the fulfillment. And then once it's delivered, you as a designer who initiated that sale, we're going to pay you the difference between the non-stocking deal or the designer price and the IMAP or retail price.
Michelle Lynne: And then you get the cut in between the stocking dealer and the designer price.
Chad Smith: Correct.
Michelle Lynne: Everybody wins.
Chad Smith: Yeah, and the other big piece of that, we're the ones that are dealing with all the withholding and sales tax. We're dealing with the credit card fees.
Michelle Lynne: Oh, that's true. God bless you.
Chad Smith: Yeah, we're the ones coordinating all of the orders. Were the ones that are dealing with all the back and forth with the vendors and then if something's damaged, because we're the vendor of record, we're the ones that are having to deal with it.
Michelle Lynne: So you're managing, so you're basically a procurement manager.
Chad Smith: That's one way to put it. Yeah. And like all those problems that a typical designer experiences, they haven't gone away, like we didn't mysteriously wipe them away. We've just got a staff and a bunch of systems that help kind of manage it. And the benefit for the brands is we're going to them and saying, look, we've got you know, thousands of designers, we're trying to help them sell more of your product. Like, we want them to be able to show your product easier, buy it easier, and, you know, use your product to put out there and let them be your salesforce, but let's pay them when they sell it.
Michelle Lynne: It's an incentive.
Chad Smith: Instead of like, your client going online and doing an image search and trying to shop you and buy it on Perigold, let's let the designer make some money here.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah, no, I think it's, and it's such an incentive for designers. Because if you're a solo designer, the last thing you want to be doing is the procurement and the chasing of the, and the problem solving and the returns and like all of the logistics, like, we make money when we design. We don't make money when we're chasing shit. So the fact that you do that is amazing.
Chad Smith: Well, it all has to get done. And you can do it if you want to if you enjoy it or, you know, if you're lucky and have a staff that you can delegate it to.
Michelle Lynne: Oh, honey, we outsource that. We used to do it internally and it's just, it doesn't make sense.
Chad Smith: It's painful and it also is not value-adding to your client. Like, your client doesn't see, it's super important to get it done right and properly, but your client doesn't care. They didn't hire you to be a purchasing agent. They hired you for your design skill. So do more with that. And charge appropriately for it by the way.
Michelle Lynne: Absolutely. Yeah, thank you. You are definitely speaking my language there. So speaking of charging, I think that you had mentioned that whether you want to do eDesign, or you want to sell it to the client that's hands-on full-service, or if you want to put it on your Instagram or mood boards, or whatever, I'd say do all three, like, you can utilize this.
Chad Smith: Well, I completely agree. Michelle, one thing that I would point out is like, put yourself and look in the mirror, like where do you go to look for products? I'm guessing it's on your phone or on your computer.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah.
Chad Smith: You need to be online in some shape or form. You don't need to be an influencer and do dancing Tiktoks, but your client is going to look for you and for products for their home. The search for that is starting online.
Michelle Lynne: And they start with people that they know. So if they're following me online, and they either live out of town, or they can't afford the services, they still get a little touch of the designer and the design influence and the design taste without having to do all of it. So that was one thing that you brought up in the panel that I really thought was important is that people want a little bit, and this sounds weird, so for the audience who's listening to it, this includes you, people want a piece of you. Like, people want a piece of you. They follow you, they admire you, and it's weird to feel, but they want to have something that we provide. And so if we can say this is my favorite lalalalala this week. If they need a lalalalala, they're gonna buy yours.
Chad Smith: Well, I couldn't agree more Michelle. And the other thing is like they're following you, or they've hired you, or they're interested in you, the designer, for a reason. Because you have a point of view.
Michelle Lynne: Something resonates.
Chad Smith: You have a design aesthetic, or you have a, you know, unique style, you're bringing a curated look that they aspire to. Great. That's your unique skill. Our argument is, you've always done that, designers historically, that's their thing. They also usually just end up trading dollars back and forth, or having their client go look for that style somewhere else to spend their money. Well, we're saying is, we think they would, if you give them an option and make it easy, we think they'd prefer to support you, the tastemaker, the designer, versus the billion-dollar corporation.
Michelle Lynne: And because they have that personal connection, whether it's virtual, you know, or not. They definitely, I agree with you, they want to support. So if somebody wants to get, if they want to show up in this new landscape, like this digital world, where would we start? What do we do?
Chad Smith: Well, you, maybe you wouldn't be surprised, but some of your listeners may be, like, there's still a lot of designers that don't have websites. And that is like, we were talking earlier about table stakes, another way to say it, you got to have a website in 2022.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah.
Chad Smith: For a hundred reasons. But you need a home base, you need a hub that all of your marketing efforts can be driven back to. And that needs to be your website.
Michelle Lynne: And it doesn't have to be perfect, y'all. It just needs to be done. And you will continue to improve upon it as you evolve in your business.
Chad Smith: A hundred percent. And it also doesn't have to cost a lot of money.
Chad Smith: It's never been easier. Through you know, pick a platform: Wix, Squarespace Shopify, they make it super easy. If you don't want to deal with it, there's plenty of people that do. And there's a whole industry around, getting small businesses' websites up and going, I've got a bunch of resources, I'm sure you do, too. But like, it's super important, even if it's just a one-page landing, like a one, single landing page. You got to remember, like, this isn't a hobby. Hopefully, this is a profession, and people are gonna judge you like it or not, as a professional, based on what they see. And more and more that happens online. Like, if they go to a website from, that was built, you know, in 1997, you're not doing yourself any favors.
Michelle Lynne: Well, that and because we are in an aesthetic industry, our brand needs to be apparent in our website. And by brand. It doesn't mean that it has to be a certain aesthetic that you offer, it just needs to be professional and colors that represent you. I mean pink and blue is not going to be as sophisticated as your clients could be.
Chad Smith: Well, if that's your style and that's your brand, great, go with it and go all-in on it. What I'm suggesting is if you want to be hired by clients, put whatever your true self is online, don't put what you think is cool, or like what others are doing. Like, you're not going to be successful long-term that way.
Michelle Lynne: I totally, yeah, that can be a whole other episode, because I'm all about just being yourself and authentic. As dorky as I am, I'm that way in person as well as professionally. But again, that can be a whole different podcast. So if, okay, so I am literally in the process, let's talk about the website. How do you get your content on the website?
Chad Smith: Well, it's super easy, Michelle, and it really starts with, like, let's just put myself, I'll just put myself in a, let's assume you're a solopreneur, new designer, you know, maybe first or second year in business. You're committed to making a living doing this, right, you need a website, and you need your face on it. People need to know you're a real human being.
Michelle Lynne: You're not just a logo.
Chad Smith: And they're gonna qualify you based on the visuals, like you just said, like, this person gets it. Here's what she does when you land there. And here's what I'm supposed to do next. Right? Here's the next things I'm supposed to do. It's hard to get people to your website. My point is, invest the time and spend, it doesn't have to be all your resources, but spend a significant amount of whatever you have available to put yourself out there. Marketing 101 for designers is something I know you talk a lot about. It works, you have to have it. But to answer your question, how you get it going, you can do a free WordPress site yourself, or you can spend, you know, less than $1,000 with some templated websites and have something that's professional, clean, and looks good. And then the hard part, like I think where you're going is, the whole eCommerce side of things. Like you said in the beginning. Yeah, you can do that. It's not something you as a designer should be doing, but you can.
Michelle Lynne: Oh my gosh, it was horrible.
Chad Smith: Or like with our tool, we give you a simple iframe snippet, and it's done for you. And then, like, you can use our tool to come in and out, add products, blah, blah, blah, and it's going to show up dynamically. That part, we've spent a lot of time and money on, it works, there's no more excuses on that. Like, you may not want to sell eCommerce on your site, but if you do, there's no reason you can't. Because it literally is done in three seconds for you.
Michelle Lynne: So is it something that I could literally go and make my website look pretty, or is it something that I need to outsource to a web designer in order for them to do it?
Chad Smith: It depends on how involved and technical you want to be. But there's no reason you, as a competent designer, can't figure it out. It's super basic. It's totally doable. It's just a matter of are you the type of a designer who's an absolute perfectionist, is going to spend 40 hours on it? Or do you have better things to do with your time?
Michelle Lynne: Just get that page done. Yeah, I totally agree. Okay, good, good, good.
Chad Smith: Let's just get it done, Michelle, it's something you can easily do yourself. And like, even on our staff, we've got people that can walk you through it, videos, it's not based on whatever platform, it's a simple thing to do.
Michelle Lynne: Oh, good. Because I literally have got it started on my own website and need to, I'm actually gonna have my VA do it. But just like, get this done.
Chad Smith: Yeah.
Michelle Lynne: Because we've already curated the collections, we just need to populate the website. So yeah, so I'm trying to practice what I preach. So what platforms, other than a website, should designers focus on in order to continue increasing this revenue stream? Because y'all, this is, like, I don't want to say it's free money, but it's pretty much laid out for us.
Chad Smith: We have paid out, like we're paying out hundreds of thousands, million dollars in commissions to designers that are using it. And these are not, you know, uber-influencers. These are stagers that are just getting started. These are people that just want to spend more of their precious time doing things they got in the business for.
Michelle Lynne: Gotta pay the bills.
Chad Smith: But, like a lot of people talk about passive income. I personally don't like that term. Passive income means free, easy money, is not that. Like, you do have to do some basic Marketing 101 because, as you know, the internet is a very crowded place. And if you want to stand out and be distinct, you've got to do distinctive things.
Michelle Lynne: Right. You have to yell at the top of your lungs from the top of the roof, but you also have to be very strategic as to how you get in front of people. But I think that back, gosh, it might have been seven or eight years ago when I was trying to create this social eCommerce platform, there was no easy way to do it. I would have to carry the inventory, I'd have to do the shipping and all of that sort of jazz. So that's what I mean by you guys have made it so easy that I'm itching to get my VA on this because she's got some projects that need to be done by tomorrow. So by next week, it'll be up.
Chad Smith: I totally didn't answer your question. But the answer would be to like put yourself in your customers' shoes or your ideal customer's shoes. Like, where do you think they're spending all their time? Is it Instagram? Is it Pinterest? Is it YouTube? Or is it you know, blogs? Like a lot of people, you've got a great blog, these are links that can be embedded in there that are evergreen. It really just depends on what you as a designer, a stager, an eDesigner, what your business goals are. My whole thing that I get fired up about is like, there's so many fake excuses out there of why people aren't trying and doing it. And in the past, like you said, it was super-burdensome to do it. But those barriers are down now. And there's a lot of platforms like ours, other free tools, other ways that if you want to, you can put yourself out there and carve out your own niche.
Michelle Lynne: Even like on Instagram and Facebook, you can shop from those posts. So there's so many ways that technology is making it available to us. As an interior design industry, oftentimes, we are a little slow on the uptake. I mean, like I said earlier, I'm still sending faxes for some of my orders. And I don't have a fax machine anymore. But in that respect, we need to, y'all we need to be business people, we need to be the CEOs of our business and not just keep doing what we've been doing. But try to stay out in front of our audience and stay relevant.
Chad Smith: Well, another spin on that Michelle, is like, yes, designers are normally a little behind the curve in adopting new things. But way usually ahead of the curve historically from the vendors and brands that you had been the unpaid salesforce for for so long. What I'm saying is whether you guys like it or not, these brands, in a big way, have woken up. And if they're not joining direct-to-consumer sites like Perigold and Houzz or other eComm platforms, they're thinking about it. And what we don't want to happen is for the interior designer as a channel just to get completely skipped over. That's what you're in jeopardy of facing because brands want to sell product, their own brands. And historically the trade model was all about, you know, exclusivity and barriers to entry. And I'm just here to tell you that access is ultimately going to be universal. And you're going to need to compete on other things other than access to these.
Michelle Lynne: Amen to that, because I mean, the stuff you can get online, heck, on Amazon, like in three days. It's not like I'm gonna be getting my couch from there but you could.
Chad Smith: And this is a little techie, but I think it might be interesting to your audience, like, who you're already getting shopped already, most likely more and more tools. Google Lens, for instance, are coming out.
Michelle Lynne: Oh my gosh, I used that the other day after we talked about it on the panel. I was like, yeah, holy free holies, y'all,
Chad Smith: Right? Basically, it just means if you see something you like, and use Google Lens, you can find either that product somewhere being sold online or a very similar product. As that gets more and more evolved, you will be able to, over time, buy whatever online. So like, if you think you've got some protected trade resource, you may now for a little while longer, and we want it to stay that way, frankly, like it benefits us. That's how we launched this is with trade-only brands.
Michelle Lynne: Right.
Chad Smith: But all of these brands see what's happening, see the volume, and see how the dropship models have changed and the legacy business models are changing very quickly. I would just want everyone to be aware of that and use it to your advantage. Don't be late to that game.
Michelle Lynne: Absolutely. It could put you out of business or you're working your tail off. So this is, I believe that we have to have, as business owners, more than one stream of revenue. And this is something that you can put out there. And like you said earlier, you can put a blog post out and it's evergreen. And then you pin it on to Pinterest and it can be shared and it can be, it's there forever. So it's nice that you can take one physical act and replicate it in so many different platforms.
Chad Smith: Well, the multiple revenue streams, Michelle, like I don't know how you charge or how you recommend to charge for design, but listen, if you're charging and just working one-on-one with a client, you can do well with that if you're charging a proper design fee and monetizing your skill level correctly, or charging for your time correctly. But there's only so many hours in a day.
Michelle Lynne: When I started my business, I totally thought I could work less than 40 hours, I can create beautiful homes, make a bucket of money, and set my own schedule. Reality set in really quickly. Like, you work on the business so much that sometimes in the business is 20 percent.
Chad Smith: A hundred percent agree, totally. And if that's what you want to do, great, and you can use our tool to facilitate it. I'm just saying most designers that I speak with, and I think probably the people the reason they're listening to your podcast and coming to you for coaching and consulting, and advice is they want more than that. They see how they should be getting more than that because they're adding more value than that. Like, you're adding a ton of value, you're the tastemaker, you're the expert, but you're not able to make a living that you deserve. And these are just tools to help you do that. Because it's super important for you to do it if you want to scale and grow a business that's going to be around. Otherwise, like I worked in a project management software and did some consulting, like, I've seen the ins and outs of these books. My wife and I own a design firm, we know how it is. You can spend a lot of time and do some big projects. And at the end of the day,
Chad Smith: Not make crap for money.
Chad Smith: Exactly.
Michelle Lynne: Yes. And that hurts.
Chad Smith: It hurts, and it's easy to fall into that trap of just trading dollars back and forth until you get to the end of the year or you look at your tax return or your P&L statement, and you're like damn, what happened here?
Michelle Lynne: I might as well retire because I'm paying to work. I had years like that when I first started, it was horrible.
Chad Smith: You've seen it. I've seen it all the time. I'm just saying there's a better way than that.
Michelle Lynne: Yes.
Chad Smith: It doesn't have to be hard or like too much extra work.
Michelle Lynne: And not a lot of extra labor. Right? That's one of the reasons why I wanted to have you on today is so that we can share this knowledge with others who may not be aware of it, or they want to do something like we're talking about, but they don't know how or what not. Because I've been watching as you, I mean, I think I was way back when, part of your beta program, and it was just the evolution has been fantastic. Let's talk about affiliates. Do you, how do you, do you have a, how do, you know what I'm trying to say?
Chad Smith: Yeah, I totally do. Well, it's that way, because it's complicated. Let me give you my quick kind of definition of it. Designers, eDesigners, you may be using affiliate programs like rewardStyle, LiketoKnowit, et cetera. Ours is similar but different in a very key way. So with those, when you do an affiliate link, you're sending your client, your fan, to someone else's website. To, you know, Crate and Barrel or West Elm, or Houzz, or wherever and in return, if that person buys something, you may get three to five percent of that sale. LiketoKnowit or rewardStyle pays you in 90 days. And ultimately, it's chump change, and you've sent your client or fan to your competitor. An eComm site.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah, you have to have a huge volume in order to make a living off of it. Which means you have to have a bazillion followers.
Chad Smith: You need a lot of eyeballs to make any decent money doing that. The difference would be with us, we're saying, here's that same product, here's a link embedded in your site, embedded in your blog posts, embedded in your social media, that when that same person clicks on it, send them to your brand, not to an eCommerce site. We're still going to drop ship and handle all the fulfillment, instead of three to five percent and 90 days, you make the full designer commission, which on average right now is around 28 percent across all the brands that we have.
Michelle Lynne: And I think that that's, I think this will be probably one of my last questions before we dive into the next segment. But I think that that's also important to recognize is that that margin that you're making through SideDoor, there might be a brand or two that you're getting a better margin from, and you can still order from those brands directly.
Chad Smith: Yeah, go ahead.
Michelle Lynne: And then you can order the rest from SideDoor as needed, or whatever the case may be. You guys don't hold us hostage or handcuff us to use it or lose it.
Chad Smith: No, this is a free tool. This is, we like, to be totally transparent Michelle, we need to keep making this super valuable. We only make money when you guys sell things. Like this is a free tool. So we need to make it as easy and useful as possible for you. That's our, our incentives are completely aligned around that.
Michelle Lynne: And I love the fact that you're willing to just put it out there. It's like, look, if you're not making money, we're not making money, because that's where the, that's where the drive and the alliance comes together.
Chad Smith: There's also no contract or obligation. And if you can get a better price point from a certain vendor, by all means, go for it. I'm just telling you, most vendors
Michelle Lynne: But then you also have to deal with the procurement and you have to deal with the problems.
Chad Smith: There's others that come with that. And it's going to be hard to do across a couple hundred brands. And the other point is a lot of these brands aren't set up to cater to an independent designer, well.
Michelle Lynne: Absolutely. Or like you said, there's also some prohibitive minimums that you have to purchase just to get in or to keep your account, and so forth. So you've taken the burden off of that. So I think, y'all, it's just, if you haven't checked out SideDoor, we'll have Chad's information here in just a little bit. And it'll be in the show notes. But you know, from one businessperson to another, whether SideDoor is the right solution for you or not, explore it. Because it's important that you find a way to continue evolving with the industry, to continue making more money in a manner that doesn't trade time for dollars. Because again, you can just create it and put it out there multiple times and get strategic about how you promote it. But I'm not about working for free. But you know, I've got a lifestyle I like to maintain, and I don't want to work that hard. So if I can find a way to make it easier. And it's also you know, you can cater to more clients, because we're still going to like my, we're still catering to the full-service interior client. But there's others or there's parts of a home that just complements this.
Chad Smith: This should be incremental, like you're saying, this is additive, this shouldn't take away from anything you're already doing. This should be additional.
Michelle Lynne: Unless you're eDesign then this needs to be like your end shopping results, because you're shopping yourself and getting a check.
Chad Smith: Well, and just think about the last couple of years. Like, how much have you personally, or your clients, ordered online?
Michelle Lynne: Oh my gosh, Jeff Bezos sent me a thank you card.
Chad Smith: I'm sure there's an Amazon package on my front porch right now. But the reality is, last year alone in 2021 Michelle, $55 billion in home furnishings products.
Michelle Lynne: Wow.
Chad Smith: That's how much transactions online. And you better believe an interior designer was a part of that but didn't make any of it. Or very little, I'm guessing. They may get very little of that, because most of it is going to Wayfair, Houzz, these giant platforms.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah, absolutely. And God bless them. But, you know, God also needs to bless my checkbook.
Chad Smith: One hundred percent. Use them, but don't think for a second those same big platforms aren't marketing directly to your prospective clients, because they are.
Michelle Lynne: Absolutely, and our prospective clients are always looking for the easiest path or the path of least resistance. Most of our clients, you know, the high-end luxury ones, they know that it's a curated service and so forth, but that's ten percent of the overall so this, thank you, this has been a great
Chad Smith: My pleasure. And whether it's us or someone else, I think it's really important just to maybe think a little more critically about what the lay of the land is right now and put yourself in your client's shoes. Like they have a basic expectation. They think that getting stuff for their home should be as easy as Amazon Prime.
Michelle Lynne: Absolutely.
Chad Smith: Our industry is not set up that way to deliver it. But over time, whether we like it or not, or whether designers like it or not, that's the expectation these clients are going to be coming to you with. How you support that, how you stay a step ahead of that, is really important, I think.
Michelle Lynne: No, I love that and I'll tell you Chad, I could talk about this for a good another hour at least. But to respect the audience's time, our next segment is rapid-fire Q&A. Okay, this is just a fun way to wrap up our conversation and it's a way for everybody to get to know you a little bit better. So are you ready?
Chad Smith: I'm a little nervous but I think so, yeah.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah, we're gonna start off with a softball. Do you drink coffee or tea?
Chad Smith: Coffee. Black.
Michelle Lynne: If you couldn't be in the profession you're in now, what would you be doing?
Chad Smith: Oh, wow. In a dream world, professional golfer.
Michelle Lynne: Ah, there you go. Speaking of dreams, what's your dream travel destination?
Chad Smith: I've always wanted to go to Australia. I'd like to just go like to the Gold Coast in Australia.
Michelle Lynne: Oh, that sounds lovely. All right, innie belly button outie?
Chad Smith: Innie.
Michelle Lynne: Do you have a consistent morning routine?
Chad Smith: Like a religion, yes. Very consistent.
Michelle Lynne: And what is?
Chad Smith: Oh, wow. At 5:30 turn the coffee on, meditate for 20 minutes and start my day.
Michelle Lynne: Awesome. What's your favorite form of exercise?
Chad Smith: Oh, wow. I'm 50 now, it used to be basketball but I've officially retired from that. I try to just break a sweat every day. I don't really have a go-to other than just like movement. I used to be into lifting weights, not so much anymore. Just breaking a sweat is what I'm after.
Michelle Lynne: That's a good one. That's a really good one. Yeah, it gets the job done. So on the flip side of exercise, what's your favorite ice cream flavor?
Chad Smith: I like, oh, wow. Like, I'm getting to my advice here. I like dark chocolate ice cream and red wine.
Michelle Lynne: Oh, that sounds damn good.
Chad Smith: Together the two of them are kind of a combo. They go together.
Michelle Lynne: That makes sense. That makes really good sense. Definitely better than mint chocolate chip and red wine. That just makes me pucker. What genre of music do you listen to?
Chad Smith: Oh, wow. I like, I really am into music. I like, right now I'm into alternative country. I don't know what you would call Son Volt, but I like that kind of like alternative country-type music.
Michelle Lynne: I'm gonna look them up. All right. And when was the last time you took a nap?
Chad Smith: God bless America, way too long ago.
Michelle Lynne: Oh no.
Chad Smith: But let me start over. I took a two-hour deep, like, sink into the floor nap on Saturday. Unexpected, I think I was just pure exhausted and just sat down and woke up like two hours later.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah. Your body's telling you.
Chad Smith: Yeah, loudly.
Michelle Lynne: Okay, I know the answer to this next one, but introvert or extrovert?
Chad Smith: I am a definite introvert in an extrovert's job.
Michelle Lynne: Yes, for sure. When I ran into you at High Point, I think we were both pretty exhausted at the end. And it was just like, I need to go lay down in the fetal position.
Chad Smith: Absolutely.
Michelle Lynne: All right. Last question. If you could have dinner with anybody, past or present, who would you invite?
Chad Smith: Oh, man. Yeah, what a great question. The first thing that jumps to mind, and I'd like the ability to edit this later, but I just read a really interesting biography on Teddy Roosevelt. Like, somebody I've, I don't know, the guy's just an original badass in my opinion. And he's the first person that comes to mind.
Michelle Lynne: Well, that works. And I'll have to go check out the book. I love, I just think it's so interesting to learn about other individuals who have held a space of prominence. You know, however you want to define that, but it's just they have certain characteristics that we can all enjoy.
Chad Smith: Yeah. And even whatever appearances you may think, everybody's fighting a hard battle. Everybody's fighting their demons, him included. So it's just, I love biography.
Michelle Lynne: And I think that's so true. And just going off topic, it's like, be kind. Because you don't know what somebody else is dealing with that day.
Chad Smith: Absolutely. That's something I need to remind myself constantly, it's something I tell my three kids all the time. It's a great way to live if you can do it. It's easier said than done. For me anyway.
Michelle Lynne: I think just in general, but it's something that we can all remember. So Chad, thank you so much for being here.
Chad Smith: This was fun. Thank you. Thanks for having me, Michelle. I really appreciate it.
Michelle Lynne: Always a pleasure. And just for the record, y'all, I am not getting paid for this commercial. No extra commissions coming my way.
Chad Smith: I could vouch for that, although I probably should be paying you because that was super helpful.
Michelle Lynne: Well, I think it's important that we, it just goes back to, it's like, this is what I teach. Like, share the wealth. There's room for everybody, community over competition, and a rising tide lifts all boats. So that's our goal is to raise the interior design industry. So I know that everybody has loved what you've had to say, how can they find you or SideDoor? You know, we'll put it in the show notes. But how can they connect with you?
Chad Smith: Well, we're actually about to relaunch our marketing site, but I would say go there, onsidedoor.com And when you're there, we've got like a chat button. We've got a really exceptional customer service team. You can reach out to anyone on our team. But we've got a group of people that are trying to, like you said, our kind of motto is win and help win. Like, we're trying to win, but we're trying to help others win because we win when others win. Like, that's the mentality of our support staff. And we also, frankly, know this is a hard business. This is a hard industry, it's full of problems. Like, if you don't have problems as a designer, you probably don't have a whole lot of business going on.
Michelle Lynne: Especially these days.
Chad Smith: Especially these days. That's another huge thing we didn't even talk about, the supply. It's hard out there. Like, we're trying to all do something that's difficult. So like doing it in the right spirit and transparently, I think is super important.
Michelle Lynne: Yes, agreed. And I'm really, really grateful that you guys took the leap and started to pave this way. I think it's going to be a game-changer for a lot of designers. And if it's a place where yeah, it's just going to be a game-changer. So for those of you who can benefit from even more resources surrounding the business of running your interior design business, join my growing community on Facebook's private group, and yeah, yeah, I know, it's Facebook, but come on over anyway, it's a great place to have a private group. It's called the Interior Designers Business Launchpad. So thanks again, Chad.
Chad Smith: Yeah, my pleasure, thank you very much for having me.
Michelle Lynne: Hey, y'all, if you love the show and find it useful, I would really appreciate it if you would share with your friends and followers. And, if you like what you're hearing, want to put a face with a name, and get even more business advice, then join me in my Facebook group, the Interior Designers Business Launchpad. Yeah, I know it's Facebook, but just come on in for the training and then leave without scrolling your feet. It's fine. I promise you'll enjoy it. And finally, I hear it's good for business to get ratings on your podcast. So please drop yours on whatever platform you use to listen to this. We're all about community over competition. So let's work on elevating our industry, one designer at a time. See you next time.