Relationships Don’t Matter

I meet regularly with business development professionals who work diligently to get to know our team and the clients we represent. The thought process is logical: meet face-to-face, and build a relationship in hopes to increase your odds of being awarded future work. Although it is common courtesy to reach out to potential clients and express an interest in their projects, it is rare that this approach leads to winning the work in the public sector. Here is why. You called too late. There is nothing as flattering as being asked to lunch after a project RFP is issued. By all means call and ask for more information, but, that too might be wasted energy. The public sector is stringent about sharing information outside of the protocol outlined in the RFP. Let’s get married. I know few people who met and decided to get married the following week. Meeting

The Silver Linings of a Low Bid

While it's accepted practice to seek out the best deal when shopping for a car, house and toothpaste, we receive feedback from frustrated colleagues when owners base their general contractor selection off the lowest fee, or lowest bid. The challenge in front of the A/E/C community, is to demonstrate to the owner the value of paying more for your services. This is very difficult when you are selling a service to those who have limited industry experience. Should we embrace that we have to provide the lowest fee to win the final selection? Is being selected by low fee always bad, or is there a silver lining? Here are some things to consider from our perspective on why hiring based on lowest fee isn’t all bad. New Markets.   We have seen design and construction firms with an iron grip on certain project types, be it libraries, police or

Don’t Start Out Like a Drunken Sailor

In the past week, I had three clients use the word ‘f#*k’ in conversation. When clients swear around you, receive it as a compliment. Why, you ask? Think about it this way, who do you swear around? Is it your boss? Probably not. Your significant other? Maybe a bit. How about your closest colleagues and friends? More likely. In other words, do you swear around people you trust? Hell, yes! So how do you know if you can even get to this level of trust with a client? Here are some tips: Use your head as some clients are obviously off limits. It’s never going to happen. Do they wear a black shirt and a white collar? Do they spend more than 80% of their time around children? Do they have a PhD? Do they knit for a hobby? Look for clues that they may be receptive... Our

Love Letters

I ran into a client at an industry-related Valentine’s party and when speaking about a staff member of ours, he stated “I love working with your Project Manager and the Board loves him too.”  At Wember, we work hard to have our clients reach this level of satisfaction. How does a business get to the point of love? Why would we target this specific word, and, why should you? First, the “why.” All I can say is, who doesn’t want to be loved? It’s human nature and it’s not restricted to a significant other or family member. Being loved is the highest form of flattery and, when stated honestly, it makes you feel special. More importantly, being loved is good for business. So, how do you get to this point in a relationship? Think about it as you would if you were on Match.com. Profile Page – This

Your Most Important Task

I enjoy meeting with business development managers, principals and marketing managers and talking about the current state-of-the-industry, upcoming events and exciting opportunities. I find it fascinating to learn what each type feels is important to winning work. Marketing managers talk a lot about proposals and graphics, owners are more focused on design and why they are better, while business development managers seem to keep their scores by how many people they know.  I appreciate all they do in generating new work, but have to say, the most important task is rarely done. In my opinion, the most important thing you can do to win work is to understand why you lose work. In a year’s time, we review about 60 RFP responses from architects and contractors. On average, we get calls for feedback from approximately five firms. As a colleague who also submits proposals, I respect that it

Scary Merger Names

We have been seeing a lot of mergers and acquisitions in the last couple years, scary stuff. We were thinking about what would happen if the trend continued and the following merged….even scarier. Happy Halloween. Zehren & Associates+Zmistowski Design Group+Zone 4 Architects = Zzzz Architects B2sj Design Group +Zone 4 Architects+Yow Architects = BS 4 Yow Group Greenfield Architects + Brown David P + Blueline Architects PC + Colorado Architecture Prtnrshp = Rainbow Color Design Hairabedian ARG Architects + klipp = Hair Klipp Conger Fuller Architects + Shike Design = Fuller Shike Architects Craig Melvin Architects + Hobbs Design Firm = Celvin and Hobbs Architects Vaught Frye Architects + Theodore K Guy Associates = Frye Guy Architects Barker Rinker Seacat and OZ Architects = BROZ Way Architects + Unreal Construction LLC = Way Unreal Construction Reynolds + Arapahoe Architects = Reynolds Arap Architects Gunson Architects + Abo Group

My Super Model Is Hotter Than Yours

It’s long been debated who is the most beautiful person.  Be it Maxim’s Hot 100 or People’s Sexiest Man Alive, there is a lot of room for debate.  If you look at my wife you would know that I prefer tall blondes, my brother-in-law short brunettes. We could debate forever on what is better, but in the end there truly is no better, just what we prefer. When making your personal ranking would you create your shortlist by selecting someone who has done the most photo shoots, won the most awards or is the highest paid?  No, but sometimes we do. Stop playing the better game, it doesn’t work. You can’t convince anyone that your design is superior any more than you can convince them you should be on the Hot 100 list. When you look at the Hot 100 list you may see the typical definition of

Interview No-Show

As a small business of eight, I, as the owner, have never had to miss an interview in person; until today.  This raised the question of what do you do if you, or one of your team members is a no-show due to a conflict.  Let’s start with what we have seen as options: The cardboard cutout.  Albeit cute, the cardboard cutout lacks any sense of personal connection.  You might as well bring a cutout of a supermodel or sports star, it will be more interesting to look at. The substitute.  More personal than the cardboard cutout, but imagine going on a date with the person’s friend as opposed to your future wife, it just doesn’t feel the same. Send in the sales team.  Sending in the sales team can be effective as presentation skills and talking points are dialed in but this is risky and can fall

Time Management is a Proposal’s Best Friend

You have been tracking a particular job for a year and the request for proposal is finally out. It’s time to dive in…immediately. Don’t wait, don’t set it aside, assess your game plan. It is common to forget the amount of work it takes to compose a proposal. Waiting to close to the submission deadline to begin creates chaos for all of those involved and results in a dull submission, void of articulation to the project at hand and often, full of canned responses. Creating a response to an RFP may take a total of thirty hours; however, it should be viewed as thirty hours over the course of the time elapsed from the RFP issue date to the due date.  Waiting till the week ahead, or even worse, a few days out, is stressful and the proposal has had no time to breathe. Spacing the work out

Top Five Indicators You Should Not Submit a Proposal

Remember the old cartoons when the character’s head would turn into a big sucker? Ever feel that way after getting left off the shortlist or when being notified who the project was awarded to? Here are some things to look for when deciding to submit a proposal in response to a request for proposal. Short proposal timeframe - If an owner has given you less than two weeks from the time the RFP is advertised to the date you are required to submit, they may be hoping you won’t find the RFP, and, if you do, that you won’t have enough time to respond. Hidden advertisement - Public agencies are required to advertise RFPs but often there is no requirement where they do so. If you locate the announcement in an obscure journal, take pause. RFP asks you to define your scope of services - Some owners don’t have an