How One Firm Rescued Reimbursables and Survived ’08 in Atlanta
FSF Architecture saves $1,000s thanks to better office organization
Foreman Seeley Fountain Architecture watched long standing architectural firms in Atlanta nearly collapse during the economic turmoil of 2008. With just 14 employees, FSF was rightfully concerned.
“Here in Atlanta, when architecture slowed in ’08, it really slowed,” explains Jeff Seeley, VP at FSF. So what helped a firm like FSF survive, while others struggled? After all, FSF faced its own obstacles, not even factoring in the tumultuous economic times.
Seeley describes FSF as pretty typical, “we were just like a lot of firms—just spreadsheeting it. We’d file an expense report, then months later, realize we’d forgotten to bill the client for our mileage. It was too late and too embarrassing to go back and ask for it later.” Multiply this by many, many instances, and it’s easy to see FSF’s loose system of organization was costing them a lot of money.
Looking back, Seeley realizes there were all kinds of miscellaneous hours that they weren’t billing for: additional services, mileage to job sites, blueprinting—all the little things were adding up everywhere, except in their checking account.
Then they found ArchiOffice.
They Saved Thousands
It became much easier to organize and determine what they could and should bill for, according to Seeley:
“All those little things we weren’t billing for? Those added up to $1000s a month. That’s what we started saving when we started using ArchiOffice.”
That made all the difference.
“We have watched other architectural firms require severe staff reductions to survive. We’re still afloat, and I truly believe that’s because we did a better job of identifying those lost reimbursables and learning to time manage our projects better.”
They Started Budgeting Time Better
With ArchiOffice showing them the percentage complete of various stages of the project, they realized truly how many hours were being spent on certain project phases and started to budget their time more wisely.
“Here’s an example: we were doing a school renovation. We had 6 weeks. The way we used to do it, I’d just look at it as ‘I’ve got six weeks to do it’ and suddenly, half my fees were eaten up by schematic design,” Seeley laughs. “Now, I pay attention to how many hours have been allotted to complete a task, not what day it is due. Once those hours are up, I start asking where the drawings are, and people don’t spend all their time on one phase.”
They’re Allocating Resources Better
They’re doing a better job paying consultants now that ArchiOffice forces them to plan before the job begins, making financial planning clear and easy to find. They know where they stand with the budget. “We have a clearer vision of where we’re going to be financially two or three months out, so we do a much better job of allocating our resources. If we know there’s going to be a rise or dip, we can plan accordingly, based on how much work we have ahead of us, ” says Seeley.
They Continue to Learn New Tricks
During the last year they implemented remote access of ArchiOffice from anywhere with an internet connection. Combine that with the new implementation of the Document Management aspect and the reach of the office has no limits. “We were on a job site recently, and someone asked for the specs. No one knew where they were. The contractor didn’t have them—they were probably stuck holding a door open somewhere. So someone pulled out a laptop, accessed ArchiOffice remotely and opened up the specs document for us right away. The amount of time ArchiOffice saves us is invaluable.”