When you’re just starting out as a new architect or as an interior designer, chasing new clients can be a tempting way to get new projects. However, finding a new client is one thing, and selling to them is a whole different ball game. In an industry such as yours, the needs and preferences of every client differ – so you need to have a different pitch every time. With a blanket-story, not only will you sound vague, but you’ll be forgotten pretty quickly, too.
In order to keep your business afloat, you’ll need to prove that you’re the right man (or woman) for the job while being able to tell a story that each individual client wants to hear. Here are a few ways to build your portfolio, appear more professional and grow your client base.
Sub-contract your work to specialist vendors
It’s no secret that leveraging one’s network of specialists ensures the work is done 10x times better than if a jack-of-all-trades were to do it. Each trades-person you have partnered with should be a qualified, licensed and skilled professional – liable for his/her own work. Often, subcontracting to multiple vendors would mean that many professionals can do their own tasks simultaneously, rather than one after the other, ensuring the project at hand is done quicker and that everyone can move on to another project or take on more work. That also means that you, as an architect or interior designer have a happy, satisfied client who puts out a good word about your quality and speed of work.
Ensure Site Supervision
Ensure you have someone on the job site on a daily basis. When there’s someone in your team who is watching over the project and being accountable for progress, you’ll find that that the mundane architectural tasks happen more efficiently and on a timely basis. Customers know that when an architect or interior designer is a one-man show, there is only so much time he can dedicate to their project – and for many, this is a cause of concern, as it often translates to mistakes, delays and unpleasant experiences.
Manage Expectations For Every Project – As an architect or interior designer, it is extremely important to manage the expectations of everyone involved. Since constructions, renovations and maintenance projects move at a rapid pace, it is easy to skip out on important aspects during the rush. Have a weekly meeting with everyone involved in the project, including the client, the site supervisor and contractors, so that everyone involved can ask questions or address their concerns. This way, all parties will stay abreast of what is completed, the progress of the project at large, and new developments, if any. It will also help you better manage time better for future projects.
Use Detailed 3D Designs
When it comes to architecture and interior design, it is not uncommon for clients to seek advice from several professionals before making a choice. Often, it is not the best design that wins clients over, but the person who was the most memorable – and using detailed 3D designs is a great way to stand out. While sketches, drawings and explanations work well too, no matter how precise or detailed they are, using rendered 3D models impress more prospects and convert to more business since they allow clients to visualize their space in a more natural way. This affordable technology is convenient for clients (since the models can be sent via email, messaging apps etc, plus, clients can tweak designs freely) AND it cuts down on expenses and effort for you, the professional as it minimizes arduous reworking.
The Devil is in the Details
One of the most overlooked, yet most important thing that drives more business to a great interior designer or architect is the fact that a good professional goes from the big picture to the little details. While the project is underway, make a list of things to double check at the end of it. Things like incidental damages, snags, finishing issues etc are easy to neglect once the end of the project is near and the sooner you catch more things that need attention, the more time you’ll have to fix them. Ensure the end delivery is great, not just good, and it will mean the difference between being overlooked or being remembered for the next job referral.
Attend Industry Events – Trade shows and industry events are a great way to keep up with the latest in your industry. Potential clients visit industry events since they can meet and interact with several companies and professionals under one roof – enabling them to pick the best person for the job easily. You’ll also find plenty of vendors and suppliers who are great to connect with and can be the start of a mutually beneficial business relationship.
Travel for new perspectives and ideas
The best architects and interior designers love gawking at buildings and enjoy the excitement of discovering why a city looks the way it does. Has an ocean-side town been invaded by the Spanish? Does It’s hot summers call for cool marble and tall ceilings? Why does each house look like a cookie-cutter version of the next? When you step away from work to feed the fire of curiosity, you often expand your horizons and bring back ideas for your next project – be it a new way to be sustainable, a new material used, etc. What’s more? Clients love listening to and telling stories that incorporates bits and pieces of world culture in their homes.
Managing a construction or renovation project is harder than it looks since you’re responsible for building the bones of the home and everything that comes thereafter. These tips will help you manage client expectations and have your business running smoothly, too.