In a competitive landscape like the one architects have to work within, it is imperative to give sufficient attention to nurturing a relationship with the client if you wish to stay ahead of competitors.
When it comes to projects that you take up in this field, there is usually a large cost involved, so the most critical factor to work on with clients is trust, especially in the initial stages.
You want to build trust in the architect client relationship right from the beginning when you cannot demonstrate your skills and commitment through the work done for them. Here are some ways in which you can work on this:
Be accessible online with a well designed website:
No client wants to work with an architect who is tough to find or whom nobody has heard of. Putting yourself out there, easily accessible via a website is one way of showing your confidence in yourself.
Make sure your website has details of the major, most impressive projects you have done and, more importantly, shore up your credentials with testimonials from happy clients.
New clients do look for feedback from your older ones, so they go a long way in helping new clients trust you when enough to approach you. Your website is also a great platform for you to showcase your versatility and knowledge with a blog added to it that allows you to highlight your knowledge base.
Showcasing your expertise via a blog is a great way to showcase your knowledge and expertise as well.
Clear, transparent communication:
This is the most important thing to do to build trust. Communicate with your client clearly and with the greatest honesty about what you can or cannot do for them. Everything that the client desires to see may not be feasible to do.
Do not agree with everything the client says just to please them. Remember that you are the expert here, and it is up to you to point out why something may not be in the client’s best interests.
Talk about such aspects of the design and explain to them why it is not feasible, so they understand that the problem does not lie with you but with the design itself. Do not promise things that you cannot do. Remember, you can deliver MORE than you promise but never less. Be forthcoming with innovative design ideas that will add value to the project and the client while gently refusing those that are not viable.
Over delivery works:
Only at the design stage, over delivery works that too not with the design itself but how you offer it. Instead of a simple, traditional blueprint, offer a 3D image of the completed design. This not only impresses the clients but also gives them a much clearer, more accurate picture of what they will get, thus eliminating ambiguity.
Another area where you can over-deliver is with the disclosure of materials used, source etc. This is especially relevant today when clients are keen on using safe, zero health hazardous materials in construction. To win their trust, you can give a detailed outline of all materials used with their sources to show that they are all safe even if they do not ask for it.
Keep the client informed and updated:
The clients may not pop in at the work site to see how the project is shaping up, they may not be calling you every day for updates but even so, it is your job to send regular updates, tell them what is happening, how far the project has reached.
Keep your client in the loop always even if there is bad news to share, say, the materials have been delayed or you have sent back a batch because of poor quality. Your client will appreciate the honesty and if the project is delayed because of such unavoidable circumstances, the client is already in the know so you can avert a major showdown.
When a client relationship goes wrong?
While it is your top priority to try and create the client’s ideal relationship, things do not always go according to plan. Some clients have impossible expectations that cannot be fulfilled despite your best efforts.
Sometimes, things happen that are beyond your control and the project is disrupted. In such cases, a disgruntled client may file a lawsuit against you for delayed service or incomplete or inappropriate service or negligence. An unprotected business stands to face a potentially disastrous financial drain in such a situation.
Ensuring that your business is covered with an appropriate professional liability insurance is a good way to safeguard your business. This insurance kicks in when a client files a lawsuit against you and it covers your legal costs and damages that you may end up paying to the client. Check this website to know more about Architect’s professional liability insurance and learn how to protect your business in the right way.