If I had to sum up 2020 in one word, I’d call it the year of reflection.
With the whole world coming to a stop, there’s been an immense amount of time to sit back, stop and think. In business, this time can be invaluable.
As I look back and reflect on what I have learned this year, it would have to be that improvements are always possible in practices.
At Archibiz, we help our clients develop an “abundance” approach. There is an abundance of work out there for you to take on. It’s simply a case of making sure you do enough within your business to secure that work. Part of that means taking a step back to analyze the business and find those weak spots that could be improved upon.
As we look to wrap up this year, I’d like to offer you five business improvement tips for 2021. I’d also like to ask that you have an open mind before digging into each one, and consider trying something that may have failed you in the past.
Think like a board. People often speak about finding time to work “on the business” as opposed to “in the business.” What does that actually mean? What does working on the business look like when you put it into practice? We suggest setting up a monthly “board meeting” where you, your partners, or senior managers sit down to talk about what’s been going on. This doesn’t have to be longer than an hour a month, nor does it have to be held in a cold room full of gray-haired men. Find what works for you and stick with it.
Manage billable hours. Billable hours is one of those concepts where many architects tend to get lost. Sometimes, there are many more hours that are put into the project that are not, in fact, “billable,” to the client. Next year, we want to see more architecture practices gaining control in this aspect of the business. There are metrics and software that all practices can implement into their practice to monitor and track productivity in a business. Get yourself a workable ‘scorecard’ that everyone understands and uses.
3. Pick your position. When it comes to marketing, understanding your positioning can be one of the most important tools you have. I often hear clients tell me that they want to market broadly so that they can attract more clients. In reality, this is the opposite approach you want to take. It’s imperative that you understand who you are as a practice and who your ideal clients are so that you can market effectively. Are you the Prada, Zara or Walmart of your field? No matter where you are on the spectrum, have a high degree of self-awareness and then use that to your advantage.
4. Work on your website. More than ever, a strong website is becoming a requirement for any practice that wants to win high-paying work. As we spend more of our time online and less face-to-face, an architect’s website will have to be top notch. One place to start is by adding high-quality video. Photos of buildings and homes are great, but clients want to see who you are and what you look like. We recommend spending some more time in front of the camera. Any ad man will tell you “smiling faces sell.”
5. Spend more time forward-thinking. For an architect, financial reporting may seem like one of the more painful aspects in running a practice. We understand it’s not everybody’s cup of tea. Next year, we suggest you gain a greater sense of how to use the numbers you’re reporting so that you are preparing for the year ahead. Focus more on indicators that predict the future (such as a rolling monthly average of the new work you have secured) rather than just the numbers that tell you what happened in the past. Those “after the event” numbers are necessary but not the be all and end all.
There are business improvement opportunities all around you. At Archibiz, we offer business coaching and mentoring to architecture practice leaders who are looking to build profitable and impactful practices. To inquire about coaching, contact us directly by filling out this form, and we’ll find a time to chat about your needs and how Archibiz can help.