Your architecture firm is growing fast: how to quickly adapt to the demand in a cost-effective way
Running an architecture or design office is very challenging at times. Sometimes you struggle with the lack of work or clients, whilst other times you have difficulties juggling between works. It takes great management and business skills to carefully run an office that is scaling up and growing. Bringing new work, while vigilantly taking care of current projects and employees, is the golden mean for every company.
Even though there is no panacea when it comes to the design and architecture business, the habits and strategies explored below can help you adapt to the increasing client demands, while keeping your costs in control.
Develop and follow your own growth strategies
In today's market, in order to remain successful and sustainable in the field of architecture, you need to be a great manager. Exploring viable goals, that are structured according to your resources, is a guarantee of your success. Having precise targets and objectives, while also tailoring your needs, staff recruitments, pricing, and marketing approach allow for a growing process that will not get out of hand.
In order to adapt to higher demands, it is important to have your staff motivated at all times. According to a 2010 study of AIA, a positive working environment, organizational support, recognition of effort, and clarity of the design process are the most important factors that can help your team grow with you. You need to set these reachable standards for your office early so that growth will not be a burden, but a simple transition towards a more stable future.
Make smart hiring decisions
For most offices, the time when they seriously think of increasing their staff is when they have more clients knocking on their door than what they can actually handle. Hiring a designer “last-minute” can be an increased cost for your office, due to the insecurity that a new employee brings with him. In order to be proactive, you need to balance your current hires and your new ones very carefully. It is risky in the short-term, to give a large project to a new designer who just joined your practice, despite their prior experience. When you are working on several large projects, it is best if you compose the teams out of your most reliable employees and your new ones. In that way, the ones who know and understand the office culture and approach can aid the new hires in their process.
According to CB Insights, the third reason why a startup or a new company fails is not having the right team. Your team must be always equipped with a structured list of competencies and responsibilities for each project. In that way, everyone will have their own place, and it is easier to identify weak points or gaps you need to fill in with either training for your current staff, or qualities to look for in your future employee.
For most small firms, being responsible with the time and budget sometimes means doing it all in-house. The problem with this 'solution' is that you end up wasting most of your time, effort, and money on one project, that your end up losing your next project, and your chances for growth. That is why outsourcing is a necessity of most small firms, which can actually lead them to boost their profits while saving time.
According to a study done by Clutch, the main reasons why small businesses outsource are to cut costs and focus on the core business more. That is why it is important to identify which parts of your office’s duties you can outsource and when. Specific skills are hard to master and easier to outsource to professionals, not on your team. Let's say your team is mostly experienced in exterior architecture, but your client needs an interior project done. Having your employees invest time in learning the programs needed for such a project, while your other clients are on hold, is not what you need.
Also, the best way to satisfy your client without the need to hire a new employee would be to give the specific task to a freelancer. There are a lot of professionals working as freelancers and it is not hard to make some of them part of your network. In today’s digitalized-work world, several websites offer such opportunities. It advised that you be cautious and have the freelancers work on smaller projects first so that you build trust over time.