Morr Interiors of Exeter has been nominated as Small Business Success Story of 2011 by SCORE Seacoast Chapter 185, a unit of the Small Business Administration.  Morr Interiors is an interior design firm that provides design services to the home building industry and also to residential clients. 

Growing in a Down Market

Stephanie and Benjamin Morrison first met with SCORE in October 2010.  Morr Interiors had been founded the year before, when home construction was in the throes of the latest recession.  Morr’s primary target market, the home building industry, wasn’t selling or buying much.   Stephanie made it her mission to convince builders that investing in design services to showcase existing inventory would help them break this cycle.  SCORE counselor Lisa Allison commented, “I was impressed by Stephanie’s energy and enthusiasm.  Despite the dismal housing market, she had ideas for her business; she was continuing to take design courses in Boston, working on the Boston Home Tour, visiting home builders.  She is a dynamo.”  Allison was impressed that Stephanie can do so much, while still focusing on the details of each project.  This may be because “Stephanie’s husband, Benjamin Morrison, provides the business acumen to balance Stephanie’s creativity,” according to Allison.  In addition to taking care of the business end, since Morr Interiors was founded, Benjamin has become a licensed real estate agent.  This allows him to connect with local builders, architects, and real estate developers and build the business in New Hampshire.  “There are so many facets to running any kind of business; the real key is to keep everyone doing what they love.  Stephanie is obviously the talent that drives this bus; my job is to make sure she has the time to do it.” Benjamin says.

During the winter of 2010 – 2011, Stephanie developed two new ideas for packaging her services that grew to propel the business’s success in 2011.   Both ideas, “Turnkey Decorating Packages” and “Moving 101,” were the result of analyzing the needs of her customers’ customers, the buyers of new homes. 

The Solution

Working with Seaglass Village in Maine, where she collaborated in the design of an award-winning clubhouse,  Stephanie noticed that buyers of seasonal New England cottages often wanted to have their new summer homes  ready to enjoy when they came North in May or June.  They did not want to spend a season or two ordering furniture, papering walls, or selecting window treatments and accessories.  Nor did they want to move items from another home that might not fit well into the new space.  Stephanie’s solution was to offer customers a range of Turnkey Decorating Packages, ranging from basic furnishings to a complete home environment.

Stephanie also noticed that buyers of new homes often experience difficulties picturing where furnishings that they own or plan to purchase will fit in a new home.  This can lead to multiple change orders during construction, as buyers realize their couch won’t fit on the wall facing the TV, or the chest won’t fit between two windows.  Stephanie’s package “Moving 101” includes consultation with the homebuyers in their old home to discuss what furniture will be moving, assistance with selections and supervision of furniture placement on moving day.  Stephanie adds, “I consider this a ‘value-add’ for any residential development seeking homeowners to purchase in their communities.  The idea of having an experienced trained Designer to help make the transition into their new home and minimize stress shows a level of care by the builder. “One builder, Stephen J. Gillis, president of Gillis Homes, has decided to offer this package to every homebuyer.  He says, “Based on a program created by Stephanie, we now offer 15 hours of her design services to every new buyer that signs a Purchase Agreement. We call it the “Style Your Home” Designer Package, and our new buyers absolutely love it!”

 

How SCORE Helped: 

Stephanie and Benjamin Morrison first met with SCORE in October 2010.  Morr Interiors had been founded the year before, when home construction was in the throes of the latest recession.  Morr’s primary target market, the home building industry, wasn’t selling or buying much.   Stephanie made it her mission to convince builders that investing in design services to showcase existing inventory would help them break this cycle.  SCORE counselor Lisa Allison commented, “I was impressed by Stephanie’s energy and enthusiasm.  Despite the dismal housing market, she had ideas for her business; she was continuing to take design courses in Boston, working on the Boston Home Tour, visiting home builders.  She is a dynamo.”

Morr Interiors of Exeter