There are many great benefits to cultivating relationships with reps and keeping up with the latest products on the market. Luckily, being intentional with the first will ensure the latter since reps are always well informed about the newest developments within the design world. Their knowledge, resourcefulness, and initiative can be key in helping you stay at the forefront of an ever-changing industry. With a well-established partnership, reps can become a considerable asset and effectively an extension of your design team.
The most obvious advantage to working with a rep is their depth of knowledge on their particular product which makes them a valuable reference when specifying. A rep can lead you in the right direction to pick the best solution for the current application and budget, provide install guidance, and work with contractors to ensure proper adherence to installation specifications.
Great reps not only offer quality products, but frequently provide additional services and support for your team. Once a relationship has been established they often readily assist in helping find reselection options if a product is discontinued or backordered, provide lighting packages with RCPs and specification documents, order extra assembly components, overnight a material or finish sample to your client, even help value engineer your design by suggesting similar alternative products that fit your budget. You may also find that with the right rapport reps are more willing to advocate on your behalf when problems arise with lead times, customer service claims, or other unexpected issues.
In addition, when given a friendly face associated with a name, your relationship with reps become more personal. They want to work together with you instead of simply providing a product and supplementary data. With a seemingly endless number of new and innovative products on the market, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start when you need to specify a product with specific constraints. By sending a concise description of the parameters and aesthetic you’re looking for, the best reps will respond with a list of optional products (from their lines, of course) that fit your request. And don’t be surprised if over time you find a rep you work with regularly is eager to have you be the first to see and get samples of the latest products, often before they even have samples available!
Abigail Youngstrom is a Staff Designer with SR/A Interior Design. She earned her degree in interior design from Baylor University in 2012. Originally from Texas, Abigail enjoys exploring all the sights and sounds of DC with her husband Nick.