My father-in-law was a barber for nearly 40 years and he had his process dialed in. He was able to deliver a great haircut and evolved a method that allowed his customers to be engaged and informed while signing off on critical phases. I found some similarities to architectural design phases and thought I would share.

  1. Concept Design – When I sit in the chair he confirms what I would like done, this changes based on the time of year (summer/winter) or if there is an event coming up, maybe I want a mullet for the upcoming carnival. I share with him pictures of previous haircuts that I liked or a picture of the latest celebrity style that I want to emulate. We agree and I “sign off” on the Concept Design.
  2. Schematic Design – Before cutting anything he asks me numerous questions such as do I like my neck tapered, how long on the sideburns, sticking his fingers in my hair showing me how long he thinks I am requesting.  After some discussion I agree and “sign off” on Schematic Design.
  3. Design Development – At this point he dives in with the clippers and scissors periodically asking me if it looks good, do you want this shorter, showing me the length of sideburns, etc.  At this point I am less engaged but still being updated offering comments if warranted.  Design Development is done but seamlessly moves into the final phase.
  4. Construction Documents – At this time I am letting him do what he can to get me out of his chair in a reasonable time, to make his business viable he tells me he should spend 15-20 minutes on a person, anything shorter and his work is sloppy any longer and he is losing money. I leave him be to manage this phase and try to stay out of his way. Construction documents are complete with a final neck razor and unfortunately clipping of runaway ear hairs. “Sign off” is final payment.

Clients often don’t understand why architects have phases and struggle to know what each one should look like. Spend the time with your client outlining these phases and discussing what they should expect – sample deliverables are always the best route. Architects want the formal “sign-off” to make sure their clients are happy and prevent reworking solutions, which can be costly. Let your clients know why this is important to you so they can respect the process and be committed.
Paul Wember ~ Owner’s Representative