Overview - Builder/Developers Criteria When Selecting An interior Design Firm
While the criteria that multi-family residential property builders or developers in the Midwestern United States use in selecting an interior design firm are not readily available in the public domain, an examination of related requests for proposals reveals that builders or developers of multi-family residential properties in the United States take into account the following factors when choosing an interior design firm: experience, expertise, and qualifications; fee; capacity to take on project; references; submitted proposal; and interview performance.
My research revealed there is no pre-compiled list in the public domain of criteria that multi-family residential property builders or developers use in their selection of an interior design firm. I found this to be true regardless of whether the geographic scope is the city of Columbus, the state of Ohio, the Midwestern United States, or the United States. Very limited information can be found on the subject. As a workaround, I looked for requests for proposals (RFPs) for interior design services and scoured these requests for any evaluation or selection criteria.
Most of the RFPs I saw are requests for proposals for professional services or architectural services. In preparing my findings, which you may see below, I took into account the criteria listed in these RFPs. According to an article recently published by Architect, the American Institute of Architects' journal, "architecture firms are becoming more multidisciplinary as they take on a larger breadth of services such as engineering and interior design, once less prevalent in-house offerings." In the article, it was mentioned that 42% of architecture firms in 2015 were multi-disciplinary.
While sources published in the past two years are typically used in a Wonder response, I decided to include one source that was published more than two years ago. This source is the fifth edition of the book "Professional Practice for Interior Designers," which was written by Arizona-based Christine M. Piotrowski, a fellow at the American Society of Interior Designers (FASID) and a professional at the International Interior Design Association (IIDA). I included this source because it details the process by which clients select interior designers. Given that the process "has been around for many years," it is safe to assume that the selection process described in the book is still relevant today.
SELECTION PROCESS AND CRITERIA
The three relevant RFPs that I saw were the following: (1) the request for proposals for architectural services issued in April 2016 by San Francisco-based Sunnydale Development Co., LLC, (2) the request for qualifications and proposals issued in December 2017 by Oakland-based East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC), and (3) the request for proposals for professional services issued in January 2018 by Alameda-based MBH Architects. Even though the properties mentioned in these RFPs are not located in the Midwestern United States, they are all multi-family residential properties. The design is part of the scope of work indicated in these RFPs.
According to Piotrowski's book, it is common practice for commercial clients (i.e., business clients) to prepare and issue an RFP to gauge interest and to narrow down the design firms that will be called to interview. In some cases, the process will start with the client issuing a request for qualifications (RFQ) instead of an RFP. Responses to the RFQ will be used by the issuer to prepare a shortlist of design firms that will be asked to submit proposals.
Based on the criteria mentioned in the three sample RFPs and in Piotrowski's book, it appears builders, developers, and even architectural firms take into consideration the following criteria when evaluating interior design service providers: experience, expertise, and qualifications; fee; capacity; references; submitted proposal; and interview performance. Each of these criteria is discussed below.
Experience, Expertise, and Qualifications
Interior design firms that have experience with projects that are comparable in scope, size, and location to the project defined in the RFP are preferred. This means multi-family residential property builders or developers in the Midwestern United States would prefer interior design firms that have previously worked on projects that involve multi-family residential properties in the Midwest. Preference will be given to interior design firms that have a proven track record and that have demonstrated competence in similar projects.
The experience and qualifications of the firm as a whole and of each of the members of the proposed project team will be taken into consideration. The "quality and appropriateness" of the firm's past designs will also be looked into.
Builders or developers would prefer interior design firms that propose fees that are competitive or are in line with industry standards. They would also favor those firms that allow deferred payments of fees. Both the fee structure and the track record of the firm when it comes to cost increases or additional services will be examined. It appears that, after experience and qualifications, the fee is the next most important factor in the selection process.
Preference will be given to firms that offer evidence that their financial condition and their workload will permit them to take on the project defined in the RFP.
Prospective clients would opt for interior design firms that have a "demonstrated ability to work collaboratively with clients" and that provide references that could be used to verify the firms' credentials and project experience. They would also prefer those interior design firms that exhibit complete familiarity with the design process and that have a demonstrated commitment to quality.
Firms that were able to completely address all requirements indicated in the RFP and that were able to demonstrate a thorough understanding of the client's needs will be given preference.
While proposals are a big factor in the decision-making process of prospective clients, they are not the only consideration. The interior design firm's performance at the interview matters too, so it is important for the firm to make a good impression. The potential client will most likely take note of the following: appearance, punctuality, orderliness of presentation materials and handouts, content, substance, and delivery of presentation, preparedness, and how well the firm addresses its needs.
Despite the lack of a pre-compiled list of criteria in the public domain, the evaluation or selection criteria in requests for proposals for related services indicate that multi-family residential property builders or developers take into consideration the following factors in the selection of an interior design firm: experience, expertise, and qualifications; fee structure; capacity to undertake project; references; completeness of proposal; and performance at interview.