The architect-client relationship is unique in nature; It’s a perceptual experience where people entrust their expectations to the architect’s creative mind, unlike most other industries where clients are familiar with the exact product or service they’re willing to buy.
In the architectural services business sector, where form follows function, one satisfied client is not enough to build a reputation, but one dissatisfied client might be capable of destroying it.
Satisfied and happy clients are the bedrock in terms of growth and success. Constant communication, time commitment, mutual understanding of the outcomes, and prioritizing client feedback are snippets of what it takes to strengthen the architect-client relationship. After all, people spend money with those who offer them the best customer service.
James Penney, the founder of J. C. Penny stores, believed that a well-satisfied client brings the repeat sales that count. Spotlighting the phrase “repeat sales that count” is enough to understand that happy clients are the best form of advertising and the number one business asset. The same applies to architects; a satisfied client spreads the good word of mouth and brings more clients.
Whether you’re running an architectural services firm or employed in one, regardless of how good your relationship with the client is, there is always a chance for improvement. This article provides some strategies to enhance the architect and Client relationship.
Tip #1: Improve Communication and Responsiveness
Communication optimization starts by developing an effective strategy to communicate with project stakeholders and prioritize the client’s requests. All architect-client communication must follow these rules:
Simplify the Wording
It’s essential to remember that clients aren’t experts, so you need to speak their language without using very architect-specific terms; for example, the client might not know anything about “load-bearing walls” or “the blueprint.” Therefore, the favorable approach is to simplify the wording according to the client’s scoop of knowledge.
Reach Out Consistently
Keeping the client in the loop is an excellent approach to developing a fruitful architect-client relationship in today’s competitive business world. Send regular updates, and organize architect-client meetings online or in person to ensure the client is updated about the project and satisfied with the progress.
Be Available and Willing to Collaborate
Clients are accustomed to having excellent customer service; it’s not an advantage anymore but a necessity to keep the business running. Additionally, clients appreciate responsiveness, especially when they have a question or a request. One of the biggest advantages of the technologies is that now clients can get directly involved in the design creation process from the very beginning, as software like AUGmentecture lets them have a preview of their building and even walk through it.
Pro-tip: Always get a written confirmation for any change or new decision even after having it verbally. Regardless of the communication channel, send a follow-up email and ask the client for signed approval. It will minimize misunderstanding and assure that you and the client are on the same page.
Tip #2: Be Transparent About Your Financials
Transparency and being upfront are essential in building a productive relationship between architects and clients, especially when it comes to financial issues. Clarifying the billing process and the overall project cost wins the client’s trust and removes ambiguity.
While an architect is expected to be innovative, push the boundaries and stretch the dollar, you have to be financially responsible with the client. The best way to accomplish this is by getting the client involved from the early stages of the designing process, aligning the client’s goals, budget, and timeframe, and most importantly, providing realistic expectations.
Tip #3: Know and Understand Your Client’s Business
As an architect, you need to be a business analyst to understand the client’s business on micro and macro levels. When it comes to design, there is nothing such as a “one size fits all” solution; you need to do your homework. Understanding the client’s business requirements is critical; for some clients, the cost factor dominates, while aesthetics is the dominating factor for others.
Identifying the client’s requirements is vital in the initial meetings by providing a portfolio of previous projects relevant to the client’s request. For cost-oriented clients, emphasize your money-saving and stretching budget skills. Also, for those interested in the final result, no matter how much it costs, demonstrate your eye-popping work to impress them.
Tip #4: Be in Touch With the Latest Technologies
Computer-aided technology has taken the first seat in the architectural services market. It fosters client engagement in the design process to save time and strengthen the architect-client relationship. Moreover, it improves the architect’s work, from planning and designing to projecting the schemes and collecting feedback.
Architectural technologies provide a 3D visualization of the project, contributing to a productive relationship between architect and client. Furthermore, in the booming augmented reality revolution, a new advance has been made in 3D visualization by embedding it in an AR environment.
AUGMentecture interactively involves the client in the process as it’s available on computers, smartphones, and tablets. The easiness of previewing 3D models in the real environment where it will take place allows the client to feel the project atmosphere, simplifies complex solutions, provides a better understanding of the design concept, and ensures all stakeholders are on the same page.
Tip #5: Online Presence
Regardless of the business size, without an online presence of any sort, it will nearly not exist! In today’s digital world, the architect and client relationship starts before the first meeting, usually with a Google query.
When prospects land on an architect’s website, they expect an outstanding portfolio, case studies, clients’ reviews, and testimonials. Besides the website, potential clients will look for more information on social media platforms.
Therefore, to build a fruitful relationship between architect and client, ensure having a well-designed website, provide a clear address, contact information, and regular content updates. Also, list the business in Google maps to get more exposure.
Additionally, make sure to nurture the social media platforms and keep them alive with regular posting, high-resolution graphics, and photorealistic renders, and avoid posting once in a blue moon!
Tip #6: Learn from Feedback
Communication is always about listening, and architects should always leave a space for feedback. In fact, negative feedback should be part of the development process for any professional. Turning criticism into an advantage sets successful architects apart and helps improve the relationship between an architect and client.
Tip #7: Be Knowledgeable and Solution Provider
Clients expect to be updated about different project aspects, like technology, materials, costs, codes, regulations, and trends affecting the architectural work; sometimes, clients might question architects about construction activities which are beyond an architect’s scope of expertise.
Architects today are expected to have a big spectrum of knowledge as multifunctionality is one of the biggest key components for the architect’s success. They should create a balance between the creative and technical parts of the job and know how to communicate with stakeholders during the building process.
For many people, it’s hard to change work habits, even if it’s not the best. But not you; as an architect, you’re innovative; design your unique approach to surprise and delight your client.
Consider each client as an individual and customizes your relationship in a better way. However, communication is the cornerstone for building an effective relationship between architect and client, in addition to other tips in this article.
Effective communication and involvement can now be achieved easily by adopting new technologies such as AUGMentecture, which allows getting on the same page with clients, demonstrating 3D previews, design modification, and timeline previews remotely and in real-time.