Multinational Interior Design Company Specialising in the Design and Construction of Medical, Dental Fit Outs [Interview][Transcript]

Guest: Mike Watson
Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest Bio: Mike founded Innova Design 20 years ago with a vision to work with a trusted senior team to deliver exceptional results for the health and commercial design market in Australia. Having established offices in the Middle East and Singapore he returned to Sydney in 2012. Mike has an international network of professionals in the property and healthcare industry and is actively involved with industry associations and events in several countries.

Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, Innova Design Director Mike Watson joins us today to share great insights on their company’s history as well as their wide range of interior design services. They specialize in the design and construction of office, medical and dental fit outs. Mike’s goals are to make Innova Design the highest level service providers in the medical and commercial industries and to continue their growth organically through repeat business and adding to its turnkey solutions.


Health Professional Radio

Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. My name is Wayne Bucklar and my guest this morning is Mike Watson. Mike is the director at Innova Design. Welcome to Health Professional Radio Mike.

Mike Watson: Thank you Wayne. Good morning.

W: Now Mike, Innova is not a name that kind of instantly tells me about the company. Tell us what it is that you do and what geographical footprint you service.

M: Oh sure. We design and build healthcare interiors. So our typical clients is a specialist or GP that’s looking at setting up his own practice. We look after them right from the concept approvals, design, management or the contractors on site right through to the delivery of handout with the keys. Geographically we’re covering all Australia, really apart from Perth. Perth has been a little bit too far, so far and we haven’t any clients there but will be happy to give it a shot but most have come from New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland.

W: I see. Now Mike that sort of designs strikes me as being quite specialist. Is that what you found, it’s not something for the average kitchen fit out firm to do?

M: Yeah, it is. It’s very difficult, we specialize on two levels I guess. We design and we build. So from a design point-of-view in house care we have specialists within specialists so we have two designers that only work on radiology for instance which is very specialized. Other subjects, we have two designers that only work on dental surgeries, another one that just as ophthalmologist. So each group specialties have their own uniqueness about it and you do need a specialist not something an architect can manage or have the experience to do. When it comes to the build component of it also, there are specialist plumbers for instance to provide a service as to dental chairs, they’ve aligned walls, in a radiologist there’s…by specialist there. So it’s not that sort of thing that the general architect and the general builder can manage satisfactorily, I think.

W: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. My guest today is Mike Watson, a director with Innova Design and we’ve been talking about the specialization of design for clinical treatment rooms and practice rooms. Mike what are the issues that you think are important that clinicians who are listening to us know about Innova this morning?

M: I think the most important thing is most clinicians are very time poor and to find someone that will offer them one point of responsibility, really right from the start. I get clients actually wherein that they call me and say “Mike can you help me? I think I found a space, just a couple minutes to see the feasibility of this space.” So I go and have a look at the space for them or someone of the present managers down will give them a little bit of report, will alert them to any potential problem areas regarding … because of the space. We can then bring that in house, space plan, so yes we can get full consult room and treatment room etc. in that space, go ahead and do the negotiations. They will negotiate the lease, sign up and then from then I will look after the construction drawings, the finish of themselves right through to building. So all the way through, they’ve got one point to contact. The other thing that’s really important with that, I would really encourage anybody to use one company from start … to go. Establish a budget early in the phase because if you’re paying a designer to design it, you’re goanna love his work at the end of the day and you’re gonna pay in his fee then he walks away. Then when you go out to send that out to the contractors to get built, this might double your budget. With a company like ours, we’re offering the service from-start-to-finish, one point of responsibility. We establish a budget upfront and our designers will design for that budget. So that design doesn’t get to the client unless the project managers overseeing it and seeing the cost there. So you know exactly what your cost are. You hear horror stories of like “I got killed with the variations here or it cost me twice as much as I expected.” You can avoid all that by just establishing upfront with one company that will provides all the service, establish a budget and a time frame there and hold them responsible to it and have one point to contact. It’s so much easier.

W: Yes. I think in almost every field, it is the transfer of responsibility points the boundaries of a project where things most often go wrong.

M: Yes, absolutely. It is because at the end of the day, we expected the situations where there has been half designed or there has been half built… There’s invariably there is gonna be disagreements between the designer and the builder if they do separate entities. Besides which, if you’re separating that way it probably indicates that you would gonna go with the cheapest builder you can find so you go out to quote, you go out for tender, you get three quotes and you go with the cheapest builder. Now it cost what it cost to build actually, however you use, the difference in price to you is the difference in the margin that the builder puts on. So you choose the cheapest one who has just put the smallest margin on. He’s not gonna make that money back but builders don’t work on small margins even though they think they do. He’s gonna make that margin back on variations with you. You’re gonna find loopholes in the documentation or the construction drawings to provide you with variations to increase his profit. So just reduce the number or the points of responsibility I would say. It just makes it so much easier.

W: Good advice, I think. Mike in every industry there are misconceptions. So what are the misconceptions about your business that drive you nuts and keeps you awake at night?

M: I think the biggest misconception and we’re always defending ourselves on this regard is yeah … is the cost, about how much is it really gonna cost? People have been bitten so many times in the building industry whether they’re building a house, putting a kitchen or whatever. They think that when we price something for them, they think that’s only half of the story. They’re expecting to be ripped off… they go horrific you know, we would never. I mean we’re responsible for that all the way too but they have so many experiences I think that they have they’re expecting it. So that’s probably the biggest misconception. We are able to provide you upfront, we tell you honestly how long it’s gonna take and what it’s gonna cost. Now in some cases, we lose a project because of that – the honesty in doing that but I’d rather lose and keep our reputation than with a couple of projects by under estimating the cost or the time frame.

W: We’ll with a little bit of luck today Mike, we might have helped some of our listeners to overcome that misconception for you. If you just joined us, you’ve just missed me talking to Mike Watson the director of Innova Design. But the good news is, we have a transcript and we have an audio sound archive on our website at And if you want to get in touch with Mike Watson the best place to do that Mike I guess is your website?

M: Yeah it is or email me directly ( I N N O V A design dot com dot au.

W: Now I’m get in to trouble for this every day I put websites on here and then I get Skype messages from people saying “I didn’t have a pencil, what was the name?” So I’ll do it again its ( I N N O V A D E S I G N dot com dot au. Mike Watson, thank you for your time today.

M: Thank you Wayne. Thank you very much.

W: And as I said before listeners, there is a transcript on our website. There is a SoundCloud archive and a YouTube archive. My name is Wayne Bucklar, you’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio.

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