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Paralyzed by the Possibilities

Thursday, July 31, 2014
Too-many-choices
We met the owner of a new home in the Auburn foothills and came to find out she had beenworking on buying furniture for over 3 years!    Most of the living areas in the home had little or no furniture for the family of 5 to sit in, let alone entertain in.  The couple had finished building their home and she had been looking for the “perfect pieces” ever since.   As she just struggled with making it "perfect", her family was getting frustrated and fed up.  Her husband finally gave her a date it HAD to be completed by, just so it would put an end to her indecision.   This in turn made her feel overwhelmed and stressed even more. 

Researcher, Barry Schwartz calls this, “choice overload” and our customer “Diane” is not alone in being paralyzed by too many possibilities.  "As the number of options increases, the costs, in time and effort, of gathering the information needed to make a good choice also increase," writes Schwartz. "The levels of certainty people have about their choice decreases. And the anticipation that they will regret their choice increases."  In the end, people avoid making important decisions at all.”   ~ Hence “Diane’s”  empty house. 

We came to her rescue with some simple tricks of our trade:

Narrow down the choices:

          First thing we did was to focus on just one room at a time. That kept a simple goal, with clear objectives and fewer distractions.   We started with the Living Room.  Then we asked “Diane” to see the files she had been keeping of all the things she had found and liked over the years.  As we began to sift through it, we made piles of all the similar styles and designs, and had her weed out the ones she no longer liked, or didn’t really go with the main ones she preferred.   As we filtered the stacks, it became clear what she liked, and from there we easily moved onto the next step.

Focus on Needs, then fill in the Fun:

          While there are some innovative and beautiful designs out there in magazines, stores and the internet, not all will work for your particular lifestyle.  In this step of the process, we determined her needs for the room, and then evaluated how the pieces of furniture fit into that need.  For example, she wanted a WOW factor for the living room because it was the main room you walked into, but also needed it to fit everyone comfortably when they entertained and had family gatherings.  We built a floor plan that fit the functional needs of the family, then filled it with fun and beautiful furnishings, fabrics and even a stunning birdcage for her pet parrot.

Make an Informed Decision:

          Studies have shown that in addition to being overwhelmed with choices, we are also brought to a standstill when we are scared of making the wrong choice.  In the furniture world, that is amplified due to the higher cost of a potential mistake.  Working with a professional who works in the field everyday can put those fears to rest.  We pride ourselves on having over 600 lines of furniture to choose from, but we know exactly which lines will work for our clients.  What price point they are in, durability, fabric choices, delivery schedules and many other factors.  We worked closely with “Diane”, guiding her through choices for the room that worked within her budget, lifestyle and other needs.  She was able to be creative as we kept her focused on the plan we had all established.

Involve ALL the decision makers:

          I cannot stress enough that when you are making important decisions that affect many people, you MUST involve them in key points of the decision making process. So many times we get partners (whether married or not) that say their other half doesn’t care about what they do….only to find out they DO care….and trouble ensues.  The anxiety of carrying the weight of all the decision making power can cause many problems.  We understand that putting together a room or a house takes many hours, but there are key places we need input from key partners.  In this case, we had “Diane” and her husband come up with an overall budget they wanted to invest in for the room, then asked him to visit our store to see key points: the designs of the room and the fabric / wood selections, and to seat test the chair that would be his and approve of the overall price of the room.  The kids were invited to weigh in on the room as well, coming up with some good points to consider.  With the entire family being involved in the main decisions, “Diane” did not have the feeling of facing the firing squad if they didn’t like everything she had done.

After working on her own for so many years and getting nowhere fast, Diane had begun the process with a bit of trepidation, but as we guided her through all the options and decisions, her anxiety was turned to excitement as the rooms came together.   

Following the first "install" of her new formal living room, she was hooked and her family ecstatic!  It turned out even better than she had imagined.  With her fears put to rest and the family supporting her, we then began work on her master bedroom, family room & kitchen complete with window coverings and finishing touches for the rest of the house.  In the end, the house turned out beautifully, “Diane” could take full credit for the design and the family had a home they could live comfortably in.


  Ferg Living Room   Ferguson Family Room Before After   Ferg Master Bedroom   Ferg Master Chaise Ferg Sitting Room 

  Research information from:http://www.fastcompany.com/3031364/the-future-of-work/why-haing-too-many-choices-is-making-you-unhappy

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