■ 2. Catch up
Hello everyone. This is Takahiro Sato, aka Tak, the designer. I am writing this newsletter in Oarai, Ibaraki Prefecture, this week with my staff and my son who is on summer vacation. My son is on vacation, but I and my staff are working while we are there. My son, who has a disability, does not like crowds, so we are aiming for a weekday to go on a trip that includes swimming.
The slogan of Gerbera Design Inc., which operates KUDEN by TAKAHIRO SATO, is "Let's live like we travel." It is a design company that seeks an working environment where people can work freely in any time and any place.
On December 13, 2016, the front page of the morning edition of the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper featured Gerbera Design's (formerly Sato Creative Design Office Gerbera) approach to working under the slogan "Let's live like we travel. “
After my previous design company collapsed from hard work and went into the black, I lay in a hospital bed, thinking and reflecting on the way I had been working. I needed to work in a way that would allow me to raise my son, who was living away from me at the time, with only one man to take care of him if something happened to him. With this in mind, I analyzed the work of my past clients.
What I noticed was the number of customers and the percentage of repeat customers. The analysis showed that 20% of my customers were repeat customers, which accounted for the majority of my sales. Repeat customers are those who find my designs appealing. The analysis revealed that I was too busy with a lot of work to take care of these customers. This was in line with The Pareto principle (the 80/20 rule), which is often used in business books.
So, I decided to target only that 20% of repeat clients and increase the unit price of commissioned work six-fold at my re-established design company.I realized that my clients valued not only my design work but also the advice I gave them on how to get there.Therefore, I stopped giving advice as a service in exchange for design work, and multiplied the advice by six.In other words, I was able to devote more time and effort to making my clients happy.
Of course, quite a few customers left. However, strangely enough, despite a six-fold increase in unit price, most of our repeat clients remained with us and asked us to do more work for them. Thanks to this, we were able to break away from the situation where we were too busy "maturing designs" one after another to focus on what would make our clients happy.
Concentrate on making customers happy → Long-lasting relationship with customers
As our relationship deepened, we were able to immediately propose designs and intentions that our clients wanted, and things started to turn around so that we could work more efficiently and with smiles on our clients’ faces.
We are now working on structuring and organizing our business so that we can be a company where a single man can both raise children and work, and while there are companies where a single president can do this, we want to be a company where the staff can achieve this as well! We are working on structuring our business and building our organization on a daily basis.
As an extension of this challenge, the new business of KUDEN by TAKAHIRO SATO is now in place. Japan's economy is in the doldrums due to a declining population. Japan's advanced sewing technology is winding down due to the aging of its craftsmen. Perhaps in a few years, we may no longer be able to wear clothes sewn in Japan.
I will add my own touch of design to Japanese cultural elements such as kimonos and anime manga, sublimate them into fashion that can be appreciated by people overseas, and create jobs for sewing factories and kimono sewers in Japan. Then, we will employ people with disabilities based on our independent sales. This is the next challenge of my company, "Let's Live Like we travel," to reform the way we work and to reform the way we earn money.