Practice an attitude of service
When I suggest to clients that they meet with a potential or former client when there isn’t a specific project to pursue, they often express discomfort. They feel like merchants presenting wares, thinking the meeting should sound like this: “We’re a full-service firm and we specialize in this-and-that and here are some projects we’ve done for others.”
This approach is self-, or practice-centric instead of client focused. By shifting to a perspective of being of service, initial meetings take on a very different feeling. Twenty percent of the meeting is spent asking questions, and eighty percent listening. What challenge is the client facing? What changes in the industry are impacting business? How are challenges and changes affecting facilities? Can they comment on something specific you’ve discovered in their strategic or master plan? Can they explain a line item in their capital budget?
In architecture, people often think of buildings as the product. Actually, buildings are the byproduct of relationships, the most successful of which are trust-based and enduring. Cultivating trusting relationship is the foundation for creating a meaningful, growing practice.
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