Executing a plan of action to deliver your client’s dream building, home or monument is a challenge on its own. Factor in human error and communication mishaps, and there is a lot that could go wrong, costing your architecture firm time and money. Cultivating trust is the first step in building a strong client relationship, which is why we’re going to explore some of the ways that architects can improve their communication skills, earn repeat business, and prevent litigation. Most importantly, stress the significance for your clients to carry Architect Professional Liability Insurance as it’s their first line of defense should anything go awry.
Start with an online presence.
In this digital age, not having a clear online presence is a red flag. Before even meeting an architect, clients want to be able to view their credentials and portfolios online. Architects should keep their professional profiles active, as well, including LinkedIn. The more satisfied clients the architect has served with positive reviews, the more likely a prospective client is to hire them.
Good communication is the cornerstone of building trust. “We get lost in the design process, and then we forget to communicate what’s happening and how it’s happening in an effective way and on a regular basis,” says Rosa Sheng, architect and senior associate at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson to Auto Desk. A regular check-in can bring potential problems to the surface early in the process and show the client you’re fully engaged.
Communicating your design intent to clients in a language your clients can understand is also essential to building trust, she continues. Avoid using jargon that the client won’t understand. Instead, speak to them in terms they can comprehend so as not to cause any confusion with the vision of the project or its progress.
Do the research.
Building something requires a lot of forethought, including building permits, codes, material considerations and costs. Once the vision is adapted, it’s time to research all of the factors that could impact the operation. Be sure to communicate this information to the client. Remember, it’s up to the architect to be the expert and provide the guidance that clients need. Doing the homework ahead of time puts clients at ease.
A vision is only a vision until it comes to life. However, sometimes clients want something that isn’t realistic due to time or budget. Don’t overpromise and lose the trust to appease the client. Be transparent about what can be done and walk them through the project’s goals. The key is to maintain communication and trust throughout the process.
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