Strategic Business Development for Architects
These days clients who issue RFPs for architectural services are
receiving roughly 60-75 proposals, when they used to receive 20-25. More
firms are throwing their hats in the ring because of fewer
opportunities. If the first exposure a new client has to your firm is
receiving your proposal, keep reading.
This Practice Clarity Newsletter covers how to get in front of the RFP process by proactively building relationships that lead to work, so that your proposal and presentation are simply the next steps in your ongoing conversations with your targeted client to be.
Here’s how to get in front of the RFP process in 7 steps.
Step 1 | Achieve Clarity about Your Architectural Practice
Proactive business development begins with having a very clear
understanding of your firm. The clearer you are about who you are, what
you do, for whom and to what benefit, the easier it will be to drive the
business development process.
Defining your firm in a Position Statement helps to set the strategic direction of the firm, and also tells clients that you have experience in their business sector. If you don’t have a Position Statement that defines who you are, what you do, for whom and to what benefit, it’s important to commit the time and resources to develop one.
Once you’ve arrived at a clear definition, you’re ready to begin planning.
Step 2 | Plan Your Business Development Strategy
To create a meaningful strategic plan for growing your practice, it’s best to look back at the last three years, and then look forward for two to three years.
As you look back, analyze where your work has been coming from. Note consistent client relationships, dominant market sectors, specialized services. Look at the profitability of projects and services.
As you look forward, identify trends you’re seeing in the industries you serve. For example, if you design service call centers, what’s happening in that market segment? Are technology service centers off shoring, while banking call centers are remaining stateside? What problems are your clients facing that can be solved through facilities expansions, renovations, or additions? Is the development of new technologies or new equipment going to impact the delivery of services that your client provides? If so, how will that impact their facilities.
Once you’ve considered this information, it’s time to make some decisions.
In small to mid-sized architectural firms, the people responsible for bringing in revenue tend to be the principals, and occasionally project directors. Since nearly all firms this size are structured so that principals are still billable, it’s hard to imagine setting up a plan that asks an individual to sell to more than one market sector. Not only is time too precious, but the depth, volume and technical knowledge required to be an expert in a given field continues to grow exponentially. Keeping up in one field of information and cultivating relationships in one field is a tall enough order for an individual.
If we work from the premise that you’ll have one principal per market sector, you begin to see the capacity of your firm’s ability to effectively market and sell. One principal, one sector. Three principals, three sectors, and so on.