What are Architectural Services?
Architectural services include architectural design services, preparation of construction documents, and construction administration. Architects also provide a wide variety of services including feasibility studies, architectural programming and project management.
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The following is an outline of services typically offered by architects and their
Project Inception – The planning of the project starts here. Working together with an architect, the client will share their project needs, dreams, and goals.
- Schematic Design – During this stage, the architect will begin by preparing preliminary design sketches based on the client’s requirements and budget to explore and illustrate possible options. The architect will review these options with the client, pointing out the merits of each, and responding to their inputs and feedback by making changes in the design.
- Design Development – This stage refines the agreed-upon schematic design for a clearer definition of the scope and quality of the finished project. Further cost projections will determine how closely the design conforms to the budget expectations, or what, if any, adjustments are required.
- Construction Documents – Once the design concepts have been decided, the architect prepares working drawings and specifications. These are required to obtain building permits and bids and help immensely in guiding the contractor in the construction process.
- Bidding and Negotiation – The architect can advise the client on their choice of contractor. The process of choosing a contractor usually starts by calling for competitive bids. The architect will help the client evaluate these bids and select the contractor, and prepare the contract between the client and the contractor.
- Construction and Contract Administration – The architect will consult with the client and advise them during construction. On-site visits will determine if the construction is proceeding in general accordance with the contract and that the design, materials, and workmanship meets with acceptable standards.
- Substantial Performance of Construction / Occupancy Certificate – The architect provides regular progress reports to keep the client informed, authorizes staged payments to the contractor, and remains involved until the project is completed.
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How to sell Architectural Services Better?
1) Practice the sales pitch: An architect marketing himself must have a well-articulated sales pitch that strikes a chord with the listener and gets their attention. If architects spend too much time rambling, the client will lose interest, and the architect will find it much more difficult to deal with the deal. This means the architect marketing his architectural services needs to plan and practice his sales pitch, right from identifying the client’s needs, so the sales pitch can focus on that. Keep things conversational without straying too far from the point of the conversation. Get to know the client but don’t slip into time-wasting chatter.
2) Know your contact list: Most firms selling architectural services will have a list of contacts, some of whom are current clients, while a large number of which are prospective ones. Architects may be at various stages of the relationship-building process with these prospective clients. Architects marketing themselves need to figure out how to cultivate contacts at various points of the sales funnel. For example, with brand new contacts, it is important to find out what they need and informs them of your architectural design services. However, clients that are further along in the funnel don’t need to hear the architect selling about the architectural services again and again. They’ll often need more specific answers to their questions, which involves going beyond the initial pitch.
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3) Be helpful, not pushy: There’s a general reputation surrounding the architectural services industry that suggests that a client will have to deal with pushiness. That’s something architects need to avoid when selling
architectural services. Architects will usually lose a client as soon as they start pushing something the client doesn’t want. Pressure should not be part of the sales strategy. Instead, architects should focus on being as helpful as possible when selling architectural services. Figure out what the client wants, and make it a point to meet those needs.
4) Don’t be needy: Some architects sound too needy while pitching to new clients. Instead of offering genuine solutions, they try to entice clients with discounted services. Yes, most clients will want to spend as little as possible. However, dropping prices too far below the industry standards shows the client that the architect is desperate for work. This will make the client wonder why the architect doesn’t have any other work, and why they’re so desperate to land this job.
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5) Build a rapport rather than sealing the deal on the first meeting: The first meeting with a client is very important. How the architect approaches that first meeting will define the rest of the relationship. Selling architectural services becomes impossible if that first meeting doesn’t go according to plan. The key is to not aim to close a sale in the first meeting. Some people view not making the sale straight away as a failure. However, the architect’s focus at this point of the relationship should be to engage the client. Selling architectural services involves building trust and relationships with clients. This is especially important for architectural design services firms that don’t have the reputation required to sell themselves. The first conversation is also the first step. It is not usually the place to discuss the end goal. Encourage the client to take the next step, rather than trying to get them to commit to the services there and then.
6) Use email marketing: Using email, the architect can stay in touch with existing clients, and alert them to new architectural services. Email campaigns will also put the architectural firm in front of the eyes of prospective clients, which can help to build the firm. The emails need to offer value to the reader, rather than trying to push a product they don’t need on them. Constant attempts to sell services will annoy people, which leads to them ignoring the emails. As a result, the firm needs to think about how to make their emails worth reading. For example, they could create a newsletter that informs the customer about their work and showcases current trends, without trying to sell directly. This raises interest, which can lead to a sale down the road.
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7) Always follow up: Once the firm or architect has established contact with a potential client, they need to have a system in place to manage the follow-up. The follow up is just as important as that first conversation. It’s where the architect shows their client that they actually care enough about them to keep the conversation going, which builds the trust needed in selling architectural services.
An architect marketing their architectural design services should use tips such as the one above to optimize their engagement with the client and increase their client portfolio.
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