Cultivating Relationships With Designers

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Updated: February 11, 2019

And Why It’s So Important To Your Business

Designers and architects drive us all crazy. We’re all guilty of a good moan about some crazy specs or inconsistent plans, but these guys and girls are super important to any contracting business, be it landscaping, building, electrical or plumbing.

Why do you need designers and architects? They feed you!

It’s a lasting symbiotic relationship that feeds you regular, reliable opportunities.

You’re not going to win every project a designer throws your way, but you do have a big chance of winning them, here’s why:

It’s Your Type Of Work

The designer/architect knows your business, they know what you do well and they will send that work your way.

They Bring You Vetted Leads

A client that has come to you via a designer is serious about doing the work. They’re not fishing, they’re looking to build a project that they’ve already committed hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to, so they’re not mucking around.

The Client Already Trusts You Via Osmosis

The designer/architect has spent many, many hours cultivating a positive relationship with the client and now that same person is personally vouching for you. The client is much more likely to follow the advice of their designer and go with their recommendation… you!

They Are A Consistent Source Of Leads

A residential client will invest in a new garden/kitchen/extension/house (the list goes on) every 10-20 years, if we’re lucky. That’s a long time to wait for repeat business. Too long! The architect/ designer finds the leads, lands them, and then hands them to you every couple of months. Imagine if you have 4-5 designers who did this consistently. This is word of mouth marketing at its best!

But, you’ve got to work for it. You need to gain the trust and respect of the designers/ architects on a personal and professional level. How?

By being the expert that’s always ready to help!

Tips for cultivating that positive, symbiotic relationship:

Make Them Look Good

Many designers/architects lack construction knowledge, especially when they start out. That’s ok, they’re the design expert, not the builder Never point out a designer’s mistake in front of the client. Of course, you need to make them aware of the mistake, but do it discretely. Try not to make them feel silly, remember, they’re not the construction expert.

Broach Design Alternatives Tactfully, And Do Not Tell The Client First.

This is their domain. You may have just solved a construction problem, but it may be a terrible idea from a design perspective. Suggest the changes to the designer directly, first, and then allow them to take it to the client. Let them sell it as their solution. It’s a big win for the designer, it makes them look awesome and they will LOVE you!

Quote

You’ll earn big brownie points with the designer/architect if you help them with their budgeting. They often need to check a project is sitting within budget before taking it back to the client. In this case you’ll likely have to work off unfinished, crappy drawings, but you’ll have a big fat foot in the door. They will definitely recommend you for the project, and you’re quote is half completed when they do.

Be An Awesome Contractor

Architects and designers need reliable contractors who deliver on promises and never let them down. If you let the client down the first person they will scream at, before they come to you, is the designer/ architect, and nobody likes to be put in that position, it makes for a shitty day!

The designer/architect will think twice recommending you if they’re likely to cop an earful from their client.

For The Sake Of Both Parties, Quietly Educate The Designer/ Architect On What You Need From Them

We’ve all had below average documents land on our desk, documents that make it very hard to accurately price up. Instead of moaning about them try to, tactfully, educate them in what you need. Ask for missing RLs: point out why you can’t price from a photo of a sketch, even if it is to scale, and explain why generic specifications lead to confusion… Just to list a few recent issues I’ve encountered

It doesn’t matter how big or small your operation is, designers/architects can be an excellent source of steady income. And they will be if you’re willing to spend the time to cultivate the relationship.