If you were to invite interested friend to analyse your practice, what do you think they would find?
A business review can often be a daunting endeavor. It can shine a light on some gaping holes in your practice and make you confront some issues that might not be so pleasant.
Yet it can also energise your business, preparing you for what’s coming next so you can react and make any required adjustments.
At Archibiz, we stress the importance of having a vision for your practice. A vision is a results-oriented picture of the future that you intend to create – what it looks like when you get it right.
A business review provides the first step in articulating that vision. It forces you to take a step back and critically look at your current position and performance.
How far are you from that vision that you’ve created? What steps do you need to take to start the process of realization?
“We found the process and outcomes of the Business Review carried out by [Chief Mentor] Ray Brown both enlightening and extremely helpful for developing our thinking about our business and planning and directing our strategies for future improvement and growth,” said Anthony Gionfriddo, director of Architecture Matters. Architecture Matters, a medium-sized North Melbourne-based architectural practice, is led by Gionfriddo and Anthony Quigley.
How Business Reviews work
An Archibiz Business Review is separated into three parts: strategy review, productivity review, and revenue review.
A strategy review assesses growth opportunities and the capabilities of the leadership team to implement growth strategies. A productivity review looks at the infrastructure in a practice, abilities to manage revenue and staff productivity. Finally, a revenue review will analyze the firm’s abilities to service and retain clients, secure revenue and win business.
As part of the review, Archibiz mentors will interview principals, clients, staff, among others. They also do a deep dive on your financials, reviewing any documents, reports and proposals.
The business review culminates in a report where you are presented with the key findings in a two- to three-hour workshop. The report includes a scorecard of how your business is currently performing in the key areas of revenue, productivity and strategy, along with our specific recommendations for improvement.
Business reviews work best for practices that have three or more staff. The best time to conduct a review, says Ray, is whenever “the practice feels that there’s more potential than the business is realizing.” Or, he adds, when there’s an overwhelming feeling that ‘there’s got to be more’ or ‘it shouldn’t be so hard.’
Business reviews can positively transform a business, says Ray.
“We’ve seen that happen over and over again,” he adds. Following a review, “the business owner becomes less stressed, there’s more clarity around where they are and where they’re going, and inevitably, the practice makes more profit.”
According to Gionfriddo, the “thoughtful analysis and honest assessments” from the business review “laid the groundwork for a new understanding and reimagining of our business.”
Not to mention, the changes that occur after the business review often mean that the owner begins to finally get paid the right rate for the job.
According to Ray, some of the more common issues that turn up in Business Reviews are related to vision, roles and responsibilities, and financial astuteness.
Many times, though the practice owner might have a vision, it hasn’t been properly articulated to the staff. That creates a level of disconnect between the staff and owner – a feeling of us versus them. Business reviews often bring that to light, and rectify the situation so that everyone in the practice feels more aligned.
In architecture practices, there often tends to be a misalignment between who does what and why. A business review can uncover the strengths and capabilities of each team member to start the process of ensuring that the right people are working on the right things.
And perhaps most commonly, it can help owners gain clarity and a deeper understanding around their financials.
“If you don’t understand finances, you’re playing a game without a scoring system,” said Ray. “In a lot of practices, owners don’t know if they are winning or losing until an accountant tells them.”
One of the most valuable components of an Archibiz Business Review is the feedback obtained from clients. In these short interviews with clients, we often uncover frustrations and opportunities for process improvement that would otherwise remain hidden.
“The interviews gave us considerable insight into how our business was viewed – internally (by staff) and externally (by clients) – highlighting what is working and what could be done better,” said Gionfriddo. “Ray’s knowledgeable and convivial approach and the independent and anonymous nature of the interviews helped to reveal areas for further reinforcement and improvement that might otherwise never been available to us.”
Undertaking a Business Review can be one of the most impactful decisions a practice owner can take.
“We strongly recommend [Archibiz] for any small business trying to gain a better grip on who they are and what they might be able to become,” added Gionfriddo.
Archibiz offers business reviews for architecture practices of any size. You can learn more and inquire about business reviews here.