Success Strategies and The National Design Studio Institute
are proud to celebrate these outstanding Design Consultants

Nominate your Rockstar
Design Consultant here:

Nominations accepted at any time, from any builder

Design Consultant of the Month, November, 2022

Jessica Hall, Certified DC PRO
Title: Design Consultant

Company: Bill Clark Homes
Location: Wilmington, NC

Number of Years as a Design Consultant: 6

Here are some of Jessica’s achievements that qualified her to be the Design Consultant of the Month for November, 2022.

Successful catalyst for improvement

One of the biggest contributions Jess has made to the design team is to change the way they approach design meetings. She has the innate ability to anticipate information that the clients will need or want to help make their design decisionsJess truly thinks about every situation as if she were the client and how she would want the information presented to her. She helped set expectations up front for customers as she learned about each new community and its unique included features.

Robin Campbell, Director of Sales & Marketing, says:

“This, along with the design team completing the DC PRO course, has resulted in achieving a more consistent pre-meeting planning, more focused review prior to client approvals and more accountability for our entire design team.

One challenge when joining an established group is pushing the status quo. I think Jess’s approach has been a great example that we have used to push our most seasoned Design Consultants to be at the top of their game. DC PRO has reinforced it.”

Quickly ramped up to role as trusted advisor

Jess’s love for learning and client care is one of the main reasons she’s been able to succeed so quickly in her role as a Design Consultant. Her experience in the furniture industry gives her an advantage for clients looking to plan their new homes around how they will actually live in it. Jess is able to make recommendations accordingly.

Customers have immediately gravitated to Jess during their design meetings. Her preparation and consideration for their wants and needs while still being respectful of investment ranges has resulted in very happy clients.

Robin says “With any new role, there is a learning curve with product knowledge and best practices. Jess was able to jump in and ask all the right questions to quickly advance herself to a position as a trusted advisor while providing appropriate guidance to each client.”

Confidently handles challenging customer situations

Jess has experienced tremendous professional growth this year dealing with the adversity of the building industry. Product supply issues along with delays in construction have forced Jess into uncomfortable situations that she has navigated well.

Jess jumped in feet first  when dealing with product availability, building timelines and discontinued products, while still maintaining confidence in her builder and product choices and this has helped customer remain calm and assured that Jess and the builder team are working in their best interest. Jess feels that being upfront about these very real challenges has drastically improved the building process both for her customers and for the rest of the builder team. She explains that she’ll be there to guide them in any potential reselections, or just there to support them in any other way possible, and that has instilled customer trust in both her and the builder.

Robin says We have had our share of challenging clients, especially those frustrated with delays and unavailability of product. Jess’s ability to manage tough clients respectfully while not letting them run over her or take control of the situation is very impressive and often imitated by the rest of the design team.”

Jessica’s Journey

Since earning her Interior Design degree 7 years ago, Jess has been working in the design field. She began her career in the furniture business  which laid the foundation for her to master the art of pairing various colors, finishes, and textiles together. Next , while working  as an in-home designer, she began to better understand how homeowners use their spaces most effectively and efficiently. Pairing these skills, she is now able to combine design and function to better serve her homebuying  clients in curating a home that not only reflects their personalities but also serves their lifestyle needs as well.

What she loves most about her career

I love getting to meet new people and learning about their lives! A lot of our homeowners have accomplished a lot over their lifetime, and I always am excited to hear about their life experiences that they are excited about. From having your first child or grandchild, to being a commercial pilot for over 30 years, to inventing a new product- I love to hear it all! It’s such a fun way to form a deeper connection with your homeowners and establish a relationship that lets them know you genuinely care who they are as a person.

 Favorite Design Trend

My favorite design trend currently is the use of colors- whether that be a fun tile in a little girl’s bathroom, an exciting wall paper used over wainscoting in a dining room, or a moody colored study with the ceiling painted the same color. I love that people are starting to break out of their shells and have their homes truly reflect their personalities more!

Tips for other Design Consultants

I always like to remind myself when gearing up to work with someone who may be a little more difficult, or if it’s going to be a harder conversation, that we are all just people. It’s never a you vs. me approach because I always try to put myself in the homeowners’ shoes to understand their perspective fully- I try to turn it into a “we” approach. I share their excitements, I share their frustrations, I share their wins, I share their lows. There is always common ground to find with someone and finding that genuine connection makes them know you are on the same team and care about their feelings and experience.

Fun Fact

I am ordained! I officiated the wedding of two of my closest friends last year and they just welcomed their first child. I also have a little brother who is 22 years younger than me and I only have auditory bones in one of my ears!

Upcoming goals

Next year I want to focus on more ways to help my homeowners feel as comfortable and excited throughout this process as possible. Anything that makes them feel more prepared, more confident, and more enthusiastic. I believe there is no better advertising than word of mouth from a great personable experience, so I aim to generate more leads for the company by providing every homeowner with this.

Note from Jane

Jessica’s enthusiasm and desire to succeed are infectious. I’m so impressed by how she’s setting the bar for the design team. The genuine care she has for her customers is apparent, and it’s her super power. And Jessica, color is going to become a BIG DEAL going forward, so keep on helping your customers explore how it can enhance their lives in their new homes.

Join me in Congratulating Jessica, a fabulous recipient of our Design Consultant of the Month designation for November!

Design Consultant of the Month, October, 2022

Candice Michel, Certified DC PRO
Title: Senior Design Consultant

Company: Drees Homes
Location: Cincinnati, OH

Number of Years as a Design Consultant: 20

Here are some of Candice’s achievements that qualified her to be the Design Consultant of the Month for October, 2022.

Championed development of the Virtual Welcome Session

The Virtual Welcome Session allowed Drees Homes to maintain selection throughput momentum during COVID and through an immense backlog, and elevated the customer experience to a new level.  She helped train other members of the team on it.

Candice says “Meeting with people virtually out of necessity in 2020 allowed us to fine-tune virtual selections situations. We now have fewer boundaries when meeting with people who live out of town, and I love that we do not have to lessen the experience for those who cannot physically visit the showroom.”

Alexa Drees, Director of Design, says:

“Candice was willing to continually try new techniques in order to perfect the welcome session. She developed a formula and continued to refine it with her recent DC PRO training, and helped train other members of the team on it. Some design consultants and sales team members were hesitant about the new process, but Candice’s enthusiasm and perfected process made it a success.

Improved Design Studio Cycle Time

Last quarter, Candice’s customers averaged 34 days from contract to final selections. This is a key success measurement of the contract to start process, and one of the lowest averages of the company. Candice was able to achieve this building confidence and trust with her buyers from the first welcome session so they felt prepared and ready to finalize on time.

Candice’s Journey

Candice has a Bachelor’s Degree in Interior Design from the University of Cincinnati. Just a few months after college, in 2002, , she joined the Drees team and knew she was in the right place!

What she loves most about her career

I love that I can help people discover ways to create a home that is even better than they could’ve imagined.  I love that people are unique and that trends are ever-evolving and that every day is different. You just never know where the creativity will lead. I appreciate balancing imaginativeness and high-level detail every day.

 Favorite Design Trend

I love the fearlessness in using black, especially on a large scale, like an entire shower.

Tips for other Design Consultants

Be mindful that attitude and word choice have a lasting impact on how you make people feel. You are the vibe. Remind yourself daily that you are part of what, for many, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Make it memorable!

Fun Fact

My husband & I got married at the Taco Bell Cantina on the strip in Las Vegas. He is the chip to my guac.

Upcoming goals

My goal for every year is to consistently bring a calming and positive energy to the design studio experience.

Note from Jane

I first met Candice over 10 years ago and have had the pleasure of interacting with her at numerous Drees Homes Design Center Symposiums, as well as through on-site training when her design studio first opened.  Candice’s grounded yet positive attitude allows both her and her customers to make the most out of the design experience.  I respect that despite being a veteran Design Consultant, she is always willing to learn, grow, and try new things.

Join me in Congratulating Candice on this well-deserved honor!

Design Consultant of the Month, September, 2022

Kim Gove, Certified DC PRO for TriPointe Homes
Title: Design Consultant

Company: TriPointe Homes/Interior Logic Group
Location: Orange County/Los Angeles, CA

Number of Years as a Design Consultant: 23

Here are some of Kim’s achievements that qualified her to be the Design Consultant of the Month for September, 2022.

Provides superior customer experience while reducing cycle time

70% of Kim’s customer surveys received in the last year have been 100% and her survey scores were 6.2 % higher than the company average for her rolling 6-month score. At the same time, Kim beat the company cycle time goal every quarter over the last year.

Both of these metrics are especially impressive considering that Kim works in a high volume design studio and has met with more customers this year than nearly all other design consultants.

Stephanie Kossoris, National Design Studio Operations Manager for Tri Pointe, says:
“Supply chain issues this past year have added new challenges to the Design Consultant role. Kim consistently handles and overcomes objections with customers and addresses crucial and time sensitive issues with ease. She is consistently able to handle hard conversations around reselects and never leaves her customers in the dark on updates or important information she needs to relay. Kim has become one of our top designers and is a mentor designer. She is dedicated, dependable and consistent.”

Developed a much-needed wall tile program

Stephanie says:
“During her DC PRO journey, Kim put thought into what shopping tools her customers needed to improve the design studio experience. The biggest gap between online shopping and in person shopping has been that the online design studio did not include Wall Tile pricing. 

Since her studio promotes a variety of products for backsplash and shower tile applications, Kim took the initiative to connect directly with her purchasing team to fix the problem. Working with the division purchasing manager, Kim helped outline what a simple and successful wall tile program would look like and because she initiated the conversation, the studio now has a wall tile program in process. 

Because Kim pushed to add this pricing to the online design studio, all customers will be able to educate themselves and plan their investment dollars ahead of the studio appointment. Aside from the apparent benefit to the customer, the wall tile program will streamline and simplify the process for other design consultants by eliminating the need to gather custom pricing. The purchasing team and trade partners will also see an immediate improvement to their workflow because they will no longer need to pause their workday to prepare and follow custom quotes. 

Kim’s effort to improve the way her division offers options not only shows her dedication to the customer, but also highlights how she works with a team to achieve her goals.”

Kim’s Journey

Kim graduated college with a BA in communications with an emphasis in public relations.  While taking an interior design class her last year of college as an elective, she quickly found that design was her calling. She graduated and immediately began working for Leonard’s Carpet service in 1999.

What she loves most about her career

Our customers! Without a customer, our job is meaningless. Creating functional and personal living spaces that harmonize with each customer’s lifestyle is my passion. Listening and communication is the key to a successful relationship.

 Favorite Design Trend

Boho! This is a free-spirited design style. It mixes patterns, styles, textures, metals and colors to the home and this allows for accent colors to be used sparingly for subtle bursts of color.

Tips for other Design Consultants

Listen before speaking. Never push your design trends on anyone without completely hearing what they say, and if you’re not clear, ask more questions! People want to be heard. .

Fun Fact

I am a desert tortoise lover!  At one time, we had 8 desert tortoises roaming our backyard. They are a simple low maintenance pet with such a slow casual approach to life.

Upcoming goals

To maximize my sales in this changing market by creating an environment that adapts to the new customer profile. I am finding this current customer has money to spend but needs more time to consider and deliberate between decisions. Patience and versatility are needed!

Note from Jane

I’ve had the opportunity to get to know Kim during her DC PRO journey. She’s been an active and enthusiastic participant during our “DC PRO Exclusive” monthly TriPointe coaching support calls, and I’m so impressed with what she has accomplished. Kim has clearly gone above and beyond, setting a great example for what a Design Consultant can contribute to her team and her company and her customers. She is a highly deserving recipient of our Design Consultant of the Month!.

Please join me in congratulating Kim!

Design Consultant of the Month, August, 2022

Christy Contestable, Certified DC PRO
Title: Design Professional

Company: Riedman Homes,
Location: Rochester, NY

Number of Years as a Design Consultant: 11

Here are some of Christy’s achievements that qualified her to be the Design Consultant of the Month for August, 2022.

Product evaluation and improvement

Christy closely scrutinized the included features and additional investments to maintain customer value while minimizing issues with availability or customers’ perceived lack of value.  In close collaboration with the electricians & internal stakeholders, she brought in a new lighting supplier that offered a wider range of attractive and in-stock products at a comparable or lesser wholesale cost.  Increasing costs, reduced availability, discontinued products, extended lead times, product quality and more were all addressed through Christy’s effective communication, persistence and collaboration. Margins were protected as design studio purchases also continued to rise.

Christy says:. Making sure our design studio is up date with current product samples has been a labor of love. We are in constant communication with our vendors to ensure we have only available products in our design studio.

Jay Benesh, General Manager, and Chelsea Madden, Design Studio Consultant, say:
“Christy’s efforts have been nothing less than heroic: efficiently reviewing customer wants & needs while making process adjustments to account for supply chain delays and discontinued products. Christy has proven to be an excellent resource, time and time again, to the entire Riedman Homes Team!”

Delivers a superb customer experience

Jay and Chelsea say:
“Christy consistently and repeatedly receives high scores for customer satisfaction and is frequently mentioned by name in customer surveys. Her efficiency and expediency in the selection process has saved thousands in costs. Faced with rapid market changes, including drastic price fluctuations and material availability, Christy has remained calm, professional, and been a trusted resource to a variety of customers navigating todays construction challenges.”

Implemented new design studio technology

Christy supervised the implementation and maintenance of the Riedman Homes online Design Studio and visualizers.

Christy’s Journey

I have been a design professional with Riedman Homes for 11 years. An internship during college at a high end design/ decorating center turned into a full time position for about 4 years. I also worked in the flooring business for a few years.  I was recommended for my current position by a design client who was building with Riedman Homes at the time.  The rest is history.

What she loves most about her career

Helping our homeowners bring the vision they have for their new home to life.  It’s important to us that the client’s personality shines through no matter their budget.

 Favorite Design Trend

I don’t really have a favorite design trend.  There is always something I love about each design trend. That’s what I love about design- What’s Next?! I’m getting the biggest kick out of the “Grandma” trend.   Modern interiors mixed with a few antiques.  Creating that “Grandma’s House” vibe….

Tips for other Design Consultants

The biggest tip would be, really listen to the client.  Our job is to bring their vision to life.  Ask A LOT of questions.  We are guiding them in making many permanent decisions they will see daily for years.

Another great tip….If they are struggling with relaying their vision, ask to look at their Pinterest boards or ask them to bring in some inspiration photos.

Last tip- Research the current trends & products. Always have a couple of “wow” products in your design studio.

Fun Fact

I have been obsessed with design since I was a kid.  I would always move my family’s furniture around and recreate their spaces in my head.  It wasn’t until I took a quiz that told me I was meant to be a designer, that I changed my major in college from criminal justice to interior design.

I cant imagine doing anything else.

Upcoming goals

For the rest of 2022 include preparing the design studio for a major product update for 2023 & continuing education courses. 2023 goals include: increase sales at the design studio by offering unique products.  Hold more events at the design studio.  Continue to elevate the customer service experience. Continue to grow my skills.

Note from Jane

Always an overachiever, Christy enrolled into the DC PRO training and certification program when it first opened, in October 2020, and quickly became among our first group of proud Certified DC PROs. It’s clear that Christy wears many hats besides the critically important role of handling homebuyer selections and delivering a superb customer experience to every one of them!  Way to go, Christy, for bringing in technology resources, and handling product challenges as well. It’s quite an accomplishment to have your manager say that your actions have been heroic.

WOW! Join me in celebrating this months hero, Christy!

Design Consultant of the Month, July, 2022

Stephanie Bensley, Certified DC PRO
Title: Senior Design Consultant Professional

Company: Chesapeake Homes,
Location: Virginia Beach, VA

Number of Years as a Design Consultant: 5

Here are some of Stephanie’s achievements that qualified her to be the Design Consultant of the Month for July, 2022.

Increased Total Purchase Price/Option Sales

Stephanie’s ability to convey the value of many products has resulted in increased option sales, while maintaining high customer satisfaction. She’s proven that buyers are willing to spend more money when they understand the value they are receiving and see the reason for the higher cost. This was the result of extensive time and effort put toward improving product knowledge and the way that she conveyed that information to her customers.

Provided Training for Design Consultants at company’s newest design gallery

Stephanie volunteered to visit a new design gallery in another state, to help the Design Consultants there work the DC PRO style of selling seamlessly into their appointments with buyers, as she had successfully been doing at her own design gallery.  She helped the consultants to completely reformat the way they moved through the new gallery, helped improve product presentation, and provided valuable product education to the Consultants working there.

Brandi Peralta, Chesapeake’s VP of Sales and Marketing, says:
“The Design Consultants down there love her!  I get asked when she is coming back all the time.  She made an impact that has resulted in an increase in their numbers, while also making things easier on them.”

Stephanie’s Journey

Stephanie joined Chesapeake almost 7 years ago as an assistant working to get her real estate license. She submersed herself in everything she could to learn everything she could. She was chosen to represent the company’s new design gallery and dove in head first, applying her same work ethic and determination to learn all that she could to make the design gallery successful.

Brandi says:
“I am impressed every time I see her in a design appointment. She continues to grow and learn and strives to make herself better at her job every day. She epitomizes what everyone should look for in a Design Consultant.”

What she loves most about her career

I love the moment after I make suggestions for a customer’s home, when all the selections come together just right. The look of surprise and excitement on their faces knowing they have created their dream home/kitchen is the best. Also, my career provides the perfect balance of following a process while allowing my creative side to flourish!

Favorite Design Trend

I love bringing in pops of color, and jewel tones are hitting just right. Greens and blues are soothing and comforting while providing a memory point in a home. And I’m definitely glad to see warm tones coming back around, giving homes a cozy vibe.

Tips for other Design Consultants

Trust the [DC PRO] process! My background is not in design but I think I have been able to find success in my role because I believed in and followed the Success Strategies guidebook, and over the past two years, implemented what I learned from the DC PRO course. Having the right tools in my toolbox helps buyers to be confident in their decisions.

Fun Fact

My husband and I say we are traveling the alphabet! What started as our first vacation together to Antigua has been followed by countries starting with the letters B, C, D and soon to be E. Covid slowed down our travel plans but I’m excited to see where our ABC’s take us!

Goals for this year

I can’t wait to get back to presale design appointments! We have been in an inventory-only selling format for a while. During this time I was able to work closely with our purchasing department on updating and streamlining products that the design team offers.   I am looking forward to the ability to interact with buyers again and finally seeing their smiling faces. I’m starting to brush up on my product knowledge so I’m ready to provide the best experience yet for our buyers.

Note from Jane

I’m so impressed with everything Stephanie has done to become an outstanding Design Consultant!  I got to know Stephanie when she volunteered as an “advance program material tester” for our DC PRO training and certification program.  Stephanie was part of the team of actual Design Consultant and Design Studio Managers who reviewed all of the DC PRO lessons, exercises and follow-up activities before we released the program to the public, and she constantly offered invaluable feedback and insightful comments. Her input surely made DC PRO more user-friendly for everyone else!  As I got to know Stephanie throughout the long months of the testing phase, it was apparent that she is passionate about her job, and is a self-starter who is dedicated to doing whatever she can to continue getting better and better.

Stephanie is also an active member of the Certified DC PRO Insiders Club, and contributed the topic for the July Idea Exchange session, when we discussed goal-setting for design studios and consultants.

Join us in congratulating Stephanie for a job well done.

To nominate someone (or yourself!) for Design Consultant of the Month, click on the link at the top of this page to download the nomination form and return to Laura Cook, Program Director at laura@opt4success.net

Someone is eligible for nomination if their primary role is meeting with a builder’s customers to handle personalization, regardless of their official title.

To congratulate one of the Design Consultants of the Month, visit our Fb or LInkedin page and leave a comment on the post!