Here’s the thing with consultations—they’re kind of a catch 22 for professionals in the home building and custom installation space. They, of course, can be a great source of revenue. There really should be no such thing as a free consultation. Any time you’re offering your services, even in a consultative manner, you should be charging for them. But, on the opposite end of that spectrum, any time you’re consulting with a client—or a potential client, who may or may not end up selecting you for their project—you’re spending time away from doing what it is that you do best.

Imagine, then, a platform that lets a potential client engage with your company virtually in an automated consultation process. They walk themselves through a powerful platform that integrates high-end technologies like augmented reality with project management tools—essentially building a full proposal. Meanwhile, you’re brought in only when real questions arise, saving you time, while driving conversions for you, and your manufacturer partners, at a much higher clip than the average design or integration firm.

That’s the potential that could be realized with a guided design platform like DigitalBridge. The U.K.-based firm completed a successful Series A round of funding in early July that brought in £3 million ($3.74 million USD), led by Maven Capital Partners—one of the most active private equity houses in the U.K. In a blog post, DigitalBridge explained that it plans to use the funding to support the rollout of their platform and expand into new markets, headlined by the U.S.

That platform, known as Aspect, is based around this concept of “guided design” where the consumer cooks up their dream bathroom or kitchen, no matter how little design experience they actually have. Aspect guides them through the entire process, from finding the right inspiration, through measuring their room, to placing appliances, fixtures, plumbing, and more as it should be placed, ultimately resulting in a completed visualization.

The power of Aspect shines through on the business side of things once brands start tying in their product partnership. Once the consumer completes their design and its validated by the platform, Aspect allows them to purchase those products.

“Consumer buying behaviour has fundamentally changed, especially online as e-commerce now accounts for 15 percent of all retail purchases,” DigitalBridge CEO David Levine said in the blog. “People are doing most of their research online and are being inspired by what they see. Bathrooms and kitchens still require a lot of face-to-face time and store visits, however, so DigitalBridge uses AI and Computer vision to guide consumers through the complex and confusing journey of designing their dream bathroom or kitchen.”

The DigitalBridge team
The DigitalBridge team

Proving its potential beyond being some sort of gimmicky tech-forward platform, Aspect takes the time to get to know the customer and asks the right questions to help set expectations right up front. Through the customer’s interactions with the platform, businesses will get detailed info on why the customer wants to redesign their kitchen or bathroom, what their budget looks like, and what kind of design taste they have. Aspect then builds a profile of the customer, uses the AR-gathered data about their space, and will filter in relevant products from the business’s catalogue for the consumer to pick and choose from.

A platform like the one DigitalBridge is creating could change the game for design and integration businesses. According to their data, 51 percent of customers abandon the idea of refurbishing their home because they can’t visualize the space. Another 35 percent end up returning items because they didn’t know when purchasing how it would look in their home. Aspects turns consultations and pre-project planning from a months-long process into something that takes minutes—and it’s fun and intuitive to boot. Something as simple as that—a program that places the power in the hands of the client—could be what turns a simple exploratory consultation into a slam dunk for your business.