The Business Behind Design

Steven Burns, FAIA, spent 14 years managing the firm Burns + Beyerl Architects, during that time the firm’s earnings grew at an average rate of 24% per year. After creating ArchiOffice®, the intelligent office, project management and time tracking solution for architectural firms, Steve took his management expertise to BQE Software, where he is refining their business strategy and product development.

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November 26, 2013

Like all professional services businesses, AEC firms are challenged to effectively manage people. And even though people can be rather unpredictable, a firm’s success doesn’t have to be. 

As Jim Quigley, former global CEO and now senior partner at Deloitte, once said, successfully managing professional services firms is all about talent, clients and teaming up to bring them together so that value services can be delivered.

Here are seven ways to make your firm more successful in the face of market variability and uncertainty.

1. Work with Reliable Clients—There are many roads to success, but without reliable clients, none of them matter. You need clients who value your work, make payments on time and view your collaboration together as a long-term relationship.

2. Know Your Niche—To serve your clients effectively, you need to understand how you fit into their organizations and plans. If your clients value interaction and trust, for example, you need to employ people who possess these qualities. And your firm culture also needs to value and reward the same traits. 

3. Share Your Competence Free of Charge—Articles, speeches, seminars, assessments, networking – any kind of activity where you can demonstrate your competence – will likely generate inquiries. Prove your value to potential clients before asking them for money.

4. Build Your Business in Good and Bad Times—Your financial results will be limited if you pursue new clients only when you need them. 

5. Keep Your Clients Happy—Have you received rave reviews about your work? If you haven’t, earning them should be your new top priority.

6. Serve Clients Consistently—The hiring and training of client-facing staff must be at least as consistent as your business development activities. Successful firms have struck a balance between business development and talent development.

7. Promote from Within—Hire people, train them in your processes and promote them. Invest in development and training. It should be given the same importance as service delivery and other practice priorities.

Adapted from the BQE blog.

Editor's note: This is sponsored content. All text and images are provided by the sponsor company. 


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