Monthly Archives: June 2013

Is advertising worth the investment?

Professional marketers are always on hand to tell you how to run your business, and they might even come with advice that translates into costly advertising programs.

But is it worth it?

There's no denying that investing into getting your name out there as an interior design specialist or professional painter will make people more aware of you and your company, but even professional advertisers can't guarantee exactly what kind of results you can expect.

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What can we learn from fashion?

Like it or not, fashion can significantly impact several industries other than just its own.

Interior design is constantly being updated with imports from the fashion world, from everything from colour, shape, style, patterns and accessories.

Resene even publishes its own pages on trends from the catwalk that you might see pop up in homewares stores and fabric shops, which you can see here, and The Range fashion colour fandeck so you can see the latest trend paint colours in one handy collection.

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Paint’s best friend

Have you ever lost a can of paint, forgotten the colour name, found that a paint colour is no longer on a colour chart, or even just taken over a paint job from someone else?

Then you'll understand the difficulty of trying to match a paint colour.

Resene has the answer with the Resene ColourHelper.

This astonishingly clever, innovative and useful tool can match a colour to a product from the Resene range.

It uses technology to capture a close match by taking readings of the colour, which are then analysed by the embedded microprocessor to determine an average colour based on those readings.

A final reading will be provided with a bar display to show the strength of the colour match.

So how accurate is it?

Technology is used to create the closest Resene hue possible, but it is possible that the sample you're reading has changed over time as paint colour can fade, and the helper can only read the colour as it is at the time of reading.

Help the accuracy by cleaning the surface first to ensure dirt doesn't alter the reading.

You can even use the helper to match colours that you see in magazines or the environment – it works just about anywhere.

This makes it great to check if your colour at home matches something you're looking at in a store.

It's even smart enough to tell you whether two colours work well together or not. Built-in software and mathematics will use readings of different colours to decide if they harmonise well together or not.

Colours are able to be recorded so you can see them anywhere, including loading the results onto your home computer for later consideration.

Sound good?

You can use the Resene ColourHelper for free at Resene ColorShops and resellers, or when a Resene representative visits on site.

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The importance of branding

The term 'branding' comes from farmers labelling their livestock and showing ownership, but the word has been appropriated by marketing professionals too.

If you put your mark on just about everything you do, you'll be building up your brand, which is vital to stand apart in a busy marketplace.

It doesn't have to be expensive banners flying behind planes. Simple things like business cards, a uniform if your profession needs it, a marked company vehicle and a logo on a quote sheet will form the basis of a strong brand.

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Eighties nostalgia – three trends making a comeback

The eighties brought us wonders like Prince, Star Wars and lycra, but it also produced some great interior design trends that are now starting to see a comeback.

Trends will always repeat themselves eventually (just think of those jumpsuits!), but they will often pop up with new added elements or designs.

Here are three of the best trends that have origins in the eighties, but are reappearing in current design.

Chevrons

These were big back in the day in stark black and white patterns, but these days the trend has been repurposed and is used with colour for a fresh remake of this once-outdated style.

More subtle tones like white and pale green are the new way of bringing the chevron into the home. While still a striking pattern, the less eye-popping colour contrasts offer a toned-down and gorgeous print for cushions and artworks.

Brass

Unlike the eighties look of highly polished 'I-can-see-my-reflection' brass, today's look is all about the antique or burnished finish.

You'll usually see brass on door knobs, but if you want to incorporate it into your home, try it in picture frames, lamp bases or knick-knacks around the house. Keep the look subtle to avoid going over the top with just a few well-placed pieces.

Brass will generally go with most colour schemes, but for the best result, stick to warm, rich colours like red or plum, such as Resene Pohutukawa.

Brights

Think about Andy Warhol and his Marilyn prints.

These fun retro colours are now being used in a new way. They are no longer the super-fluoro neons however, now you can liven up a room with brights, such as Resene Smitten or Resene Shooting Star, that don't offend the eye.

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Construction disputes taking longer to resolve

Internationally, construction disputes are taking longer to resolve, according to UK-based consultancy company EC Harris.

The company released the results from a study at the end of last month (May 24), which compared the trend across different regions around the world including the United Kingdom, Europe, the United States, the Middle East and Asia.

Titled 'Global construction disputes: A Longer Resolution', the report was the third of its kind undertaken by the London consultancy with research help from ARCADIS Construction Claims Consulting.

One of the main findings showed that construction disputes in 2012 averaged more than a year in length, which is 20 per cent longer than those in 2011.

The average length of a dispute was 12.8 months, which was up from 10.6 months in 2011, and 9.1 months in 2010.

However, the good news is that the average value of the 2012 disputes actually declined slightly, down to US$31.7 million from US$32.2 million in 2011.

Mike Allen, the global head of contract solutions for EC Harris explained this value fall by saying that "construction projects are increasing in complexity, so when a dispute materializes, its duration is not necessarily linked to its value, and so complex disputes can take equally as long to unravel".

These numbers are averages however, so in actual fact, the length of disputers in both the United States and Europe fell in the 2012 period. What once took 14.4 months to resolve in 2011 was down to just 11.9 months in 2012 in the US, while mainland Europe showed the shortest dispute time with an average of just six months.

In the US, the values were not "significantly different" from their US$10.5 million average value of 2011, falling to US$9 million in 2012.

The study credited the decline to a culture of claims avoidance and the experience of their clients and contractors. Some managers, for example, may have previously dealt with disputes and could work to prevent them before they arose.

Causes and resolutions

As for what was causing these disputes, the top five claims included failure to make interim awards on extensions of time and compensation, differing site conditions, failure to understand and/or comply with contractual obligations by the employer/contractor/subcontractor, and general errors and/or omissions to the contract document.

And at the number one spot for dispute causes internationally were incomplete and/or unsubstantiated claims.

Following this, the three most common practices of alternative dispute resolution in the United States were party-to-party negotiation, mediation and arbitration.

In the UK, the two most common means of resolution were adjudication and arbitration, followed by party-to-party negotiations.

What does it mean for us?

While this may all seem far away from the South Pacific, these disputes and resolutions may have some lessons for those down under too.

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Green with envy

Living green has never been so popular – and now the literal sense of the phrase is also relevant!

Pantone named its colour of the year as the rich and luxuriant emerald, but it's not only those deep hues that are coming in to popular fashion.

Green was a favourite at this year's Resene Total Colour Awards, and it's hardly surprising why this fresh hue is exploding into the world of paint.

Here are three reasons why we think going green will make your friends green with envy!

Bring the outside in

It's no secret that green is the colour of the environment.

Bringing the outdoors in has long been a favourite trick of interior design specialists to play with the indoor-outdoor flow in living areas, and it works so well because of the verdant hues creating that calming, natural feel of the outdoors without having to leave the living room couch!

Get matchy

With such a colour, it's only 'natural' that it should match and complement many other hues from the colour wheel.

For a start, it is ideal for homes with exposed beams or wooden floors, panelling or doorways.

Other paints complement various shades of green too.

Depending on how bold you want to go, you could pair greens with bright reds, purples or blues for some serious colour-blocking.

On the other hand, you can tone green down with soft neutrals, charcoals and creams.

Looking fresh

If your home is feeling a little drab, then green is a great way to freshen it up.

Such a lively colour will bring vibrancy to any space and make your home look all brand new.

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Lost in space – do you really need a McMansion?

My house, my castle isn't just a saying, it's often a dream – something to aspire to and save for.

But is size really the issue?

We're often raised on the dream of home ownership, and as per movies, books and general pop culture, we're led to believe that bigger is always better.

This has given rise to the term 'McMansion', which is in all cases, a derogatory name for a home that simply outsizes the family who resides there.

Australian website Completehome has recently released an article on the phenomenon, and according to their property expert Andrew Winter, size does matter – but it's all about how you use it.

According to Mr Winter home size is relative.

While he admits that there is undoubtedly a need for a certain amount of room for comfortable living, he suggests that beyond that, it's all about how you use your space.

Not to mention that he believes that the days of building great castles of grandeur with as much space and extravagance as possible are numbered.

Hopefully, he says, this will mean the return of the great backyard.

While homes grew larger, taking up all the land available, lawns and outdoor areas grew smaller. Instead, homes might now be built as two or three storeys instead.

Mr Winter points out that larger-sized homes aren't usually all that necessary, saying that even an extra square metre can add as much as $1,000 to $3,000 to a new home construction price tag. Similarly, per extra square metre, a renovation will cost at least $1,500.

If you're looking to build and are still at the blueprint phase, Mr Winter suggests thinking about the absolute minimum space you would be comfortable in, and comparing it with your planned areas so you can visibly see whether your choices are necessary.

This will help your budgets stay on track as well as ensuring you don't end up with something more than you bargained for.

Rather than focus on the sheer size and scale of your new home, Mr Winter recommends considering the actual design, and putting more energy into the feel of the place, rather than the space.

Consider quality windows, varied ceiling heights and finer architectural details and features. Think about your flooring options and mouldings, and take some time to imagine how your interior design scheme will work with the layout of your home.

Well-designed and carefully thought out architecture has just as much to offer, if not more, than plainer large rooms and areas. Mr Winter says that simple things like window positions, sizes, shapes and sight lines will change the overall feel of a room.

And what about spare rooms? How many is too many?

The Completehome article suggests that spaces with no purpose are essentially a waste of square metres.

Rather than opting for an excess of spare rooms – is there something more creative you can do with the space? Or is there another way you can use the area to work with the rest of your home plan?

Perhaps you could have a gorgeous master suite bedroom or an ensuite bathroom rather than a small spare room that you'd rarely use?

Think about the use and feel of your home, rather than just the size.

Good interior design isn't just a huge home. Instead, play with paint schemes, furnishings and homewares to make the most of whatever space you have.

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Where to save or splurge on interior design

Nobody will be able to honestly tell you that interior design is always cheap. While there are budget-friendly ways of refreshing your home decor, there is certainly the capacity to spend up large on design options.

To keep the costs down, while still maintaining a fresh and modern design scheme, you need to make wise decisions on decorative investments.

When to splurge

Think of your interior design scheme as an investment. You'll be better off paying premium prices for long-lasting options that won't deteriorate or go out of style.

Think about a solid hardwood dining table with protective layers of lacquer, quality thick curtains and couches that are either high-quality leather (rather than cheaper vinyl options), or guaranteed-to-last fabric.

These larger items will be with you for a long time, so spending on quality, durability and design will save you from buying again in a few years' time.

Splurging is without doubt fun, so don't forget to enjoy it!

When to save

On the other hand, there are plenty of tricks you can use to modernise your home – without the mega price tag.

Change the look of your dining table with fresh centrepieces or tables runners. If you only buy one new runner every year, you'll soon be able to rotate them to suit your fancy. Even top-notch quality cotton runners can be bought in stylish colours and designs for around $50, and you'll be surprised that the change it makes.

Keep your couch looking up-to-date with a scattering of pillows. Visit stores when they're on sale to pick up a new set of cushions, mixing neutrals with bright colours, or if you can, pop into a fabric store and get all the materials you need to sew a few yourself.

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The 80/20 marketing rule and how it works for you

Marketing isn't something that all painters or specifiers learnt in their training or studies, so it's only natural to feel a bit out of place in this area.

One of the mantras in marketing is the 80/20 rule.

It is applicable to absolutely any trade in the world, so it's a good one to understand when you're looking to keep your business growing.

According to this rule, 80 per cent of your business will be generated from 20 per cent of your clients.

So what does this suggest for your marketing plans?

This means that a small handful of bigger clients (the 20 per cent) such as a hotel chain, a retirement village or school will likely require the majority of your services (the 80 per cent).

Good marketing will ensure that these clients receive the attention they deserve. Remember that it will be worth putting in a little more time and effort making sure everything is spot-on because you will be saving time and effort by not hunting down more work. They will also be more likely to pass on your details if they are satisfied with the work.

The flipside is that your bread-and-butter clients (around 80 per cent) – such as residential homeowners or one-off jobs – will provide you with the remaining 20 per cent of your work. The jobs they require may take less time, but there will be more of them.

Looking after these clients is important too, because each one will come with the potential for more work, whether it is through their own personal need or a referral. If they are connected to a large paint or design project through their career for example, there may be a chance to turn that 20/80 client into a 80/20 one.

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