Franchise in the spotlight: Dulux Design Service

Interior design isn't exactly the easiest industry to make headway in. It can take years to build up a reputable brand, making the Dulux Design Service a worthwhile avenue for designers wanting to build their profile

Franchise in the spotlight: Dulux Design Service

Anyone who has ever watched The Renovation Game has probably fancied a go at interior design. However, even for those with the required training it can be hard to find opportunities that are backed by a very strong brand. Well for the budding Kirsty Allsopp a franchise opportunity could spell the answer. The Dulux Design Service is the innovative enterprise that trades on the paint manufacturer’s extensive market presence, bringing affordable interior design to the UK homeowner.

The official Grand Interiors sponsor of the Grand Designs Live show two years running – at which they exhibit some of their most striking room sets – Dulux Design Service’s designers aren’t your average franchisees. Boasting some impressive qualifications and expertise, they’re hardly the cast of Changing Rooms; there are no ghastly MDF creations in their designs. Those connected are often respected authorities in their own right – design director Marianne Shillingford has presented on home and lifestyle show Our House, as well as working with publications Prima Magazine and Ideal Home Magazine.

Taking on a diverse range of projects, the designers have built up impressive portfolios under the Dulux brand. Offerings range from Claire Cipollone’s warm touches made to the Shottermill Junior School to Elaine Cater’s striking work transforming a gym into Tees Valley Leisure Centre’s ultramodern new cafe. Even the work on simple apartment spaces can be truly stunning; Steve Lait’s duplex apartment is enough to excite anyone’s palette.

But how does it all work? What does the Dulux designer do to help their client?

The whole process is designed to match the franchisee’s training and experience with the customer’s vision. For the customer the first step is a free of charge consultation, which acts primarily as a chance for them to meet their designer. Once the customer has outlined their vision for the space, the designer will be able to tell them about the services and options that best complement their requirements. Depending on their needs the customer can then select from one of three packages.

Focusing on teasing out the customer’s ideas and fleshing out their desires into a fully rounded design scheme, the Inspirational Design package is an opportunity for the designer to flex their creative muscles. Their job is to provide advice on everything from furniture and fabric swatches to colour and carpeting, helping the client create a carefully tailored plan for their design.”

The rather self-explanatory Source & Buy service helps to take the hassle out of requisitioning all the products a client’s remodel needs. Whether they only need help with a couple of items or enough to deck out a maisonette, it’s the franchisee’s role to identify the best products, inspect their quality and make contact with suppliers. Working closely with the client and tailoring the purchases to their tastes and budgets,”

Either of the previous two services are available as pick’n’mix options, allowing customers as much time hands-on or “hands-off the project as they like. For the busiest or most gun-shy interior designers, the Complete Scheme Management offers total project management and gives the franchisee the chance to get their teeth into the real work of renovating. From laying out the room and sourcing products to managing tradesmen and placing the last objet d’art, everything falls under their domain.

Unusually for a franchise however, franchisees’ influence isn’t entirely limited to their territory. Regions that don’t yet have designers aren’t simply left out in the cold – customers in these territories are able to use an online design service, linking them to designers in other areas. Via email, post and phone contact they can still liaise with designers to produce mood boards, featuring their tailored design choices. This allows flexible options for the customer and means franchisees will still from time to time be able to assist those who still aren’t in assigned territories, giving them a template which “takes them one step closer to realising “their refit fantasies.

For most people with the required design know-how, this might not be the first option that would occur but the combination of a strong brand with the autonomy of a franchise make it a very intriguing proposition. Additionally, Dulux’s exclusive franchisee network offers a bolster to your reputation provided by very few franchise opportunities. Finally, the support of their systems makes securing clients easy, as their network puts customers in direct contact with the “designers operating in their area. With the hassle removed you can focus on getting out there and splashing some paint around.

Minimum investment: £55,000

Josh Russell
Josh Russell