We’ve come to learn a lot about the field of architecture by working closely with architects and their firms over the years.
Time and time again, we have been deeply impressed by the creative way that talented architects are able to lead a diverse range of stakeholders — ranging from home and business owners, developers, financial institutions, government and planning officials, safety consultants, structural engineers, energy efficiency experts, building contractors and vendors — and arrive at a solution that solves complex problems and resolves competing interests with an inspiring, aesthetic, and sustainable building design.
It’s no small task.
When it works right, it’s magic.
Whether it’s a residential, office, educational, community, industrial, health sciences, laboratory or government project, a successful architectural project can affect human behavior for those who interact with the design today and — in many cases — for generations to come.
Coming off the completion of a very well received project, you can’t help but feel “I can do it all” …
… but can you?
It’s Challenging to Expand an Architectural Practice into Unknown Markets
The simple question “Can one do it all?” is a very relevant question facing many architectural practices.
Remember how optimistic you were when you first entered the field of architecture?
You were ready to prove yourself — and take on every kind of project.
We want to help you recapture some of that youthful optimism.
Architecture is a great business except for three things: unreasonable clients, ephemeral contractors, and unreliable vendors.
Many find once they’ve established success in one area, it’s hard to break out of their niche sector (which in time can leave the practice vulnerable to economic slowdowns as market conditions shift).
According to the architects we’ve spoken to, bidding on jobs outside your expertise is difficult for many reasons.
For example, if you currently specialize in office design, the idea of branching out to pursue laboratory design projects or industrial manufacturing facilities could be a big stretch unless you can find the right partners — particularly new vendors — that can help pave the way to making successful project bids.
That’s often where things come to a halt.
Too often architects report they’ve experienced serious problems with their existing vendors — ranging from broken promises to finger-pointing, over-promising and under-delivering, and rising costs for ambiguous reasons — so the very idea of ADDING more vendors to the mix causes most architectural firms to hit the pause button when contemplating new business in adjacent market segments.
What’s the Secret to Success?
What’s the secret to resolving this? How can architects diversify their firm’s client base?
For many, it’s a question of first becoming more efficient at managing existing projects.
If you find you don’t have enough time to do your primary job function, you’re working too many hours, or you feel things are generally out of control, you need to ask yourself these questions:
- Do your vendors work for you or the other way around?
- Do your vendors solve problems or create problems?
- Are your vendors proactive? Can they fix issues on their own before causing major project delays and disruptions?
- Are your vendors increasingly responsible for unnecessary change orders?
- Can you depend on your vendors to deliver quickly and on time?
- Can your vendors provide custom solutions as the need arises?
- Can your vendors back you up with decades of experience to get the job done right?
And finally, perhaps the most important question:
- Are you working with too many vendors?
As you work through the above checklist, you may well recognize problems you have with your current vendors.
These issues need to be resolved before you go after new projects outside your field of specialization. But how?
Direct Access to the Manufacturer can be your Competitive Advantage
Imagine for a moment you had one vendor you could depend on to:
- Build your office furniture
- Build your laboratories (wet and dry labs)
- Build your shipping and receiving stations
- Build workstations for manufacturing facilities
- Create BIM or CAD files for you with Revit software
- Can build custom, signature furniture fast — that’s designed by you and for you alone?