Sometimes it seems like you have very little say in who your clients are.
I think you have a lot of say in who your clients are, but it isn't easy to connect the dots. An architect's education is woefully lacking in the knowledge that would be helpful.
Three things are needed to be profitable. Of course I am referring to the time after you have secured a commission to design a project and also a reasonable fee to do the work.
We have all experienced rooms with poor acoustics, particularly unwanted sound transmission. To avoid poor acoustics you need to design a workable solution and you need to see that your solution is implemented.
Good Architectural Acoustics requires the use of just five simple concepts...
How often do you complete your timesheet?
I personally have used 'twice monthly', 'weekly', and 'daily' timesheets. You are probably different than me; but when I filled out my timesheet it usually went something like this ...
The goal of design isn't the design, but a building. The construction of the building isn't (normally) the Architect's responsibility - the General Contractor or Construction Manager has that role [the constructor]. However the Architect does have a role in seeing that what is built meets the documents that he/she has prepared, and that the Owner receives the building that he/she has paid for.
So here is an overview of the Architect's role during construction.
What You Need To Know
93% of architectural firms don't need accounting - bookkeeping is plenty.
The economics of design do not allow for the time it takes to write a specification and assemble a project manual.
By my count there are four basic types of architectural fees. Variations on two of these basic types adds another four fee types.
A while back I posted an article about Additional Services. There are a lot of circumstances that arise where additional compensation for Additional Services is called for. In that first post I offered a simple way to get the issue on the table and approved. The second part of the issue is recognizing Additional Services.
Have you ever tried to incorporate trash collection into a project during Construction Documents?
It is a mess, and the results will be less than stellar unless you go way in the hole by reworking lots of earlier decisions.
How to avoid the situation next time is the topic of this post.
I stumbled upon a comprehensive list of marketing tactics - 75 of them to be exact. About 20% of them don’t apply to architects at all. I am going to briefly comment on the other 80%.
I found THE 75 MARKETING TACTICS on the Mindwhirl Marketing website. It wouldn’t hurt to read through their list for a rudimentary understanding of this marketing stuff.
These 75 tactics are either intended to help you find ‘leads’ or to convert a lead into a customer.
My Top 11 Time Concepts
I have studied time management a lot over my career. I needed to. I can slack off with best of them. I’m a natural.
So every idea that came along was put to the test. Most didn’t change my results, but these few are the ones I got some value from. I still rely on them when things seem to be ‘drifting’.
It Is All About Money
One of the ways in which we attempted to distinguish ourselves from other firms was by taking care of our client’s money questions. In my opinion, and in my experience, too, money is usually the main thing that will undermine a project.
I don’t want to have the money conversations after it has become an explosive topic. So right from the beginning we attempted to help our clients set up a sound budget.
Over the years we have bid a lot of projects both privately and publicly. We have also documented our process to avoid 'reinventing the wheel'. The following describes the steps in our process. Several of the documents or forms that we use are downloadable by clicking their name. Perhaps this will be helpful to you.
8 REASONS FOR ROUNDING-UP YOUR TIME
This might be controversial.
I think architects should round-up their time.
I also think that you should complete and submit your timesheet daily. If you aren’t completing your timesheet daily, then this idea won't interest you because you are already fudging your time entries.
This is why rounding-up isn’t fudging.
Project Management for Architects
I like organization. Some of you would rather be attacked by fire ants. Here's a compromise that won't hurt much at all.
I discovered Trello some time ago. I really got into it. I shared the post "You Probably Need Trello, Lucky It Is Free".
I was using Trello for everything. And then ... Basecamp pulled me back into the fold. I really like Basecamp, both the app and the company that makes it. Basecamp is a great project management tool, and I used it a lot for architectural project management. So what changed? Recently I was kicking around the idea:
How can architects manage everything with one app?
Most of us don't give a thought to a Janitor's Closet. We put a sink in a small room of 5'x5' and move on.
Well there's a little more to it if you want the space to serve the building owner. We learned what is really needed when we designed a supply warehouse for Banana Republic / The Gap. The owner's project manager, who was in charge of supplying the whole company with stuff for operating the individual stores, was basically an executive janitor.
We received very specific requirements for the janitor's closet. I am passing on his wisdom to you.
Zoning is an odd duck. Zoning is unique among codes because you might not be able to build. Period.
Every other code will allow you to proceed if you can show compliance, which is generally just a matter of money - more of it.
With zoning, no amount of money can buy permission to proceed if you don't meet the requirements. Sometimes you have to wait a year before re-applying!
Flat Roofs Don’t Leak
Flat roofs have a bad reputation for leaks, but I don’t think flat roofs leak. My experience is that any leaks aren’t due to poor roofing or poor roof materials. The leaks are due to the flatness of the roof, which encourages use of the roof for HVAC equipment.
Here is why that is a leak-producing situation, and what you can do about it.
The ‘Standard Details’ concept is deceptively simple. “An easily accessed library of building details that describe how you like to do things.” Everybody gets that.
Have you ever tried to do it?
I found success elusive. But it is worth a try. Here is why ...
MyCorbu just got closer to the vision of offering a real solution to the small firm’s need for architectural bookkeeping. All that’s missing is an invoicing solution. (That’s next.)
Architectural Bookkeeping has come to MyCorbu BOOKS, the renamed, paid version of the MyCorbu timekeeping app.
A year after I started my own firm, I was invited to design a hangar for my Dad's golfing buddy, who happened to have started an airline that was growing by leaps and bounds. We designed projects for his airline for about twenty years until they were bought out by one of the major airlines. One of the main skills that allowed us to keep up with their growth was my knowledge of project delivery methods - mostly book-learning, driven by interest.
Small firms don’t need accounting.
Your accountant doesn’t agree with me.
He’s wrong unless your firm has over 20 members.
The problem with accounting is that it requires brain-surgery-precision for a task that doesn’t much matter. When you stop to think about the time, effort, and aggravation that accounting requires; and what benefit you receive in return; something is fundamentally wrong. Basically you can’t afford to do accounting until you are large enough and complex enough to afford a bookkeeping employee.
I know this because my six-person firm used accounting for most of our existence and got almost no benefit from the tens of thousands of dollars per year that we spent on accounting. Why did we do it?
Ignorance. I thought I had to. I mistook AIA publications as applying to me. They don't. They apply to much larger firms than I ever had.
About 93% of architectural firms are smaller than 20 people. They can't afford accounting. They can only afford bookkeeping.
So what is the difference?
There are a number of things about a truck dock that add up to truck docks needing to be more than an afterthought.
I am not thinking of a distribution center when I say that. The docks are the central focus of that kind of building and will get plenty of attention. I am thinking here of the incidental truck dock that may be a convenience or an efficiency measure. In that case safety is a paramount concern, but every truck dock that isn't part of a professional trucking operation should have a safety focus because people will sometimes use the dock who haven't been trained.
The first design step is to contact a local manufacturer's rep for dock levelers. They can look at your situation and give you great advice about the best way to set up the dock.
Here are a few things to consider about the dock, the building and the equipment:
For over 20 years I had the benefit of having Project Financial Status calculated for me by our (pricey) accounting software after each month was ‘posted’. You could choose from two methods. Method A was automatic but gave useless results. Method B required you to input an overhead factor to allocate overhead per hour of time charged to the project. This method gave consistent results and the results were accurate as long as your overhead factor was up to date.
You can see how to calculate an overhead factor here.
MyCorbu provides the same Project Financial Status as a pricey accounting system. One difference is that MyCorbu does it daily rather than monthly.