For more than 17 years, More Space Place Austin has been helping homeowners create more space for living, providing custom design solutions to maximize space in their homes and offices. The woman behind this endeavor is long-time Austin resident and MSP Austin franchise owner, Joanna McDonald.
Joanna opened the business in 2005 as an eager entrepreneur ready to provide a much-needed product in the local market. Almost two decades later, Joanna has steadily grown the Austin franchise into one of the top producing MSP locations nationally, serving the fastest-growing real estate market in the US – Austin. Now employing a full slate of designers, installers and administrative support, Joanna and her team continue to maintain a strong, loyal network and customer base, including homebuilders, interior designers, realtors, and homeowners.
How Joanna Launched Her Career
Like many Austin professionals in the 1990s, Joanna got her start at Dell Computers. After graduating from the University of Texas with a degree in organizational communication, she began working in inside sales support for Dell’s corporate accounts division. She credits her time at Dell for shaping her sales philosophy and the way More Space Place Austin does business. According to Joanna, selling computers isn’t really all that different from selling custom closets and Murphy beds. Both start with listening to the customer, identifying their problems and finding a solution.
“Some of the most valuable skills I acquired at Dell revolved around learning how to understand the customer’s needs,” Joanna shared. “I learned to ask the right questions and really listen and filter the information for priorities, so I could develop a solution that fits and encompasses all the customer’s needs.” When you visit the More Space Place Austin showroom, you’ll see this philosophy in action as Joanna and her team work with their customers to analyze needs and build cohesive solutions.
Leading the Company’s Growth
More Space Place showed a lot of promise even in its earliest days. In fact, Joanna selected the franchise precisely because she saw a gap and an opportunity in the market. “I liked that we were selling a specialized product and one that wasn’t readily available in the local market,” Joanna said. “We were able to build up our business with a lot of freedom to innovate and try new approaches specifically designed with our market and customer base in mind.”
The showroom is a perfect microcosm of the company and how Joanna has made it uniquely differentiated in the market. On any given day, you’ll see Joanna in the showroom working side-by-side with the More Space Place Austin designers. “I do lots of hands-on training and collaboration with my team,” Joanna said. “I remind them what we value – treating our customers the way we’d want to be treated as consumers and homeowners, and instilling how important it is to bring empathy, creativity and exceptional listening and problem-solving skills to each customer interaction.”
“When we first started in 2005, we started building up a customer base. Now, more than 15 years later, many of those people are with us on their third or even fourth home,” Joanna said. “They’ve seen our process; they trust it; and they know they want More Space Place as a partner while they build custom closets, lay out home offices and install Murphy beds.”
Driving More Space Place Austin Forward
An avid fitness and outdoor enthusiast, Joanna spends some of her precious leisure time on bold pursuits, including adventure trips to hike locations like the Grand Canyon and Pike’s Peak. The personality traits that allow her to thrive on these adventures are some of the same ones that have made her a successful businesswoman and entrepreneur – her curiosity, her determination and her willingness to embrace new things.
Long-time colleague and More Space Place Austin Business Development Director Pamela Hughes shared how she’s seen Joanna’s leadership skills in action and how she’s kept More Space Place Austin dynamic and relevant. “As the real-estate market in Austin has evolved, Joanna has adapted to this over the years by providing solutions from the largest custom home, to maximizing space in a downtown high-rise apartment,” Pamela said. “Joanna has also been strongly committed to relationship building – and it’s been a differentiator for our companies. She’s worked closely with interior designers, realtors and home builders, building a referral base that reflects her strong relationships in the community.”
Internally, Joanna’s intellectual curiosity and willingness to adopt new approaches to enhance the company’s success is manifested through her desire to review, understand and iterate on processes. According to showroom manager Cyndi Nevin, Joanna’s approach works. “Joanna is immersed in the operations of our business,” Cyndi said. “Her hands-on approach has led to our success, and she seeks every day to improve processes and efficiency, balancing her tremendous creative design skills with her impressive tech savvy and the needs of running a tight business in today’s competitive business environment.”
She continually evaluates the way the More Space Place Austin manages its scheduling, installations and customer communications to ensure that clear expectations are being set and that the customer experience delivers the promised value. “I’m naturally drawn to designing efficient processes,” Joanna said. “And, as we’ve grown, we’ve seen that our clear and efficient customer experience is a real differentiator from other companies that serve similar markets.”
Supporting Families Amid Texas’s Growth
More than three decades after Joanna first made her mark on Austin as a UT student, the city bears little resemblance to the sleepy college town she remembers. The downtown high-rises alone have made an indelible mark on the city and have brought hosts of new people to town – many of whom are moving into smaller spaces or coming to the city to take advantage of its perks while working remotely.
With these factors in mind, many of the new residents are a perfect fit for More Space Place Austin’s products/services, from custom closets that maximize useful space to home office set-ups that make remote work more functional and enjoyable.
What do these people and many others have in common as they come into the More Space Place showroom for a visit? They’re all experiencing a life transition, whether they’re moving closer to family, adding a new family member, or shifting to a new home.
At these pivotal points in their lives, they need visionary support to ensure they can really make the most of their space and live the most comfortably in their homes. Serving them brings joy and satisfaction to Joanna and the entire team.
“I always enjoy asking new people what brought them to Austin,” Joanna shared. “We all know that Austin is bringing in tech jobs, and I’ve also been pleasantly surprised at the number of people who are moving here to be closer to family – especially retired grandparents who want to be nearby their grandchildren.”
Along with supporting new and current Austin community members, More Space Place Austin has goals for expanding its presence in another of the country’s fastest-growing cities, San Antonio. Joanna and her team have already established a More Space Place showroom in San Antonio and they’re working to grow their presence in the local community. “San Antonio has plenty of potential and home prices in the region are actually expected to grow even faster than Austin’s in the next year,” Joanna said. “We see plenty of opportunity to support San Antonio families and new transplants. As they establish their homes, we’ll be right alongside to build the closets, offices and storage spaces they need in their homes.”
The future is bright for More Space Place Austin, and according to the team, it can all be traced back to Joanna’s vision and her desire to make the company strong, customer-focused and ready to serve. As for her personal life, Joanna’s envisioning plenty of adventures lining the road ahead there too – time spent with her husband and adult children, excursions with her outdoor adventure group and plenty of Austin patio dining at Loro, Suerte and other yet-to-be-discovered favorites.