How People Select Architects (And How to Act Upon It)
According to the United States Department of Labor, there were 107,400 architects in the country during 2012. This number is growing every year, meaning that all architects have tons of competition whenever they get started looking for clients.
It’s interesting to look at how the average person selects an architect, seeing as how each project, budget and personal preference varies. You might think that your portfolio is flawless or your reputation is untainted in the area, but those are not the only areas that people look at to select architects.
Have you ever wondered about the process that potential customers go through before selecting you or cutting you from their shortlist of architects? These are usually pricey jobs, so it’s reasonable to assume that people put lots of time and effort into choosing the right company or individual architect.
Let’s take a look at how people select architects and outline how to act upon these selection processes.
Your Proximity From the Customer
Architects are similar to barbers: if you can’t reach out to the person quickly, drive over at the last minute, or see them face-to-face, then what’s the point? People are not going to hire an architect if they have to drive three hours to setup a meeting and discuss the project.
Your proximity plays a huge role in how many customers you can attain, and who is willing to work with you. Therefore, it helps to situate your business in an area where the business prospects are high, but you also need to focus your marketing efforts to the local customers. If you start targeting the entire country with your Google Ads or reaching out to people who are all the way across the country, you lose your local market.
Focus your marketing efforts on a regional level with things such as local networks and service clubs. When you start marketing online, target the zip codes and neighborhoods around your business and dominate in these areas. Similar to a real estate agent or even the local cookie shop, architects need to be nearby. People want you to follow up with the project on-site and they more than likely want to come into your office and discuss how things are going.
What Your Website Looks Like
Customers might not spend much time on your website, but it’s usually the first thing they check. Potential clients are smart; they know that your website only displays the projects you are most proud of, and you probably put in lots of work to make yourself look like their best bet. Therefore, people look at your website as an initial filter; cutting out the websites that look like they were made a decade ago, or the ones that include poor quality photos or not many past jobs.
If your website shows quality then you move onto the next stage in the selection process. How do you show value on your website? Make sure it has a minimalist design that leads directly to the content they want: Your past work. Include professional photos and designs to show that you take pride in your business. After all, if you don’t take pride in your own website, how will you take pride in someone else’s job?
Also consider including testimonials from past clients. Ask for written or video testimonials to show future customers that other people are satisfied with your work. This ties into the word of mouth point we will outline below.
Word of Mouth Referrals
People usually make purchase decisions based on recommendations from other people. This isn’t always the most scientific way to go about buying products or services, but there’s something about hearing praise from another person that makes people want to buy. When you want to see a movie or read a new book, you probably check with your friends and family. Even when you go on Amazon or a service like Angie’s List you can view reviews and ratings from other people.
If a potential customer knows another person who had an experience with you as an architect, they will most likely reach out and get their feedback. Your customer opinions are crucial, so delivering quality and treating your customers well is key to your future success.
This particularly ties into the local aspect of things. If you want to dominate your area, and be known as a good architect in your area, you have to deliver quality and friendly service every time. After that, word of mouth praise works its magic.
The Initial Contact with People
We call this the on-boarding process, because it’s the initial impression you have on a potential customer. When people are looking for architects it becomes more than finding the person with the most experience and best portfolio. If a person calls an architect and they respond quickly, and in a friendly manner, you can bet that it makes a good impression on the customer.
The way you carry yourself as a person shows experience to your potential clients. If you show that you like to get involved with the process and really make the customer feel comfortable, they might even forget about a lack of experience and choose you simply because of your personality or service.
People don’t like feeling as if they are being sold to. Show your potential customers that you aren’t in it to up-sell them on everything or push the price higher and higher. Create a relationship with the person by showing them you have a passion for architecture and you care about how their project turns out. Once you do this, your expertise shines through and you increase your chances of a person selecting you as their architect.
How Much Are You Charging?
Just like in any business, the quote is a huge factor in how people choose architects. We could sit here and talk about reasonable rates for different projects, but in the end, it’s all subjective and dependent on what type of work you are doing. The key to convincing a client to go with your services is to remain clear about your terms and rates.
Offer a clear quote with no surprises or hidden fees. Sit down with the person and explain to them every detail of the contract, and outline which charges they can expect down the road. When you avoid surprises and create an environment with full transparency you make the person on the other side of the table trust you. Even if your rates are a little high, this bond can outweigh the benefits of another architect offering a lower rate.
The Ultimate Element: Trust
We just talked about five points that people use when they think about how to select architects for their jobs, but they all mold together into one element: Trust. Sales is not about who is the best talker, or who can sell a person on the highest rate. It comes down to how people enjoy interacting with each other. People choose their architects similar to how they choose the restaurants they eat at. Sure, they enjoy a good meal, but the service and atmosphere comes into play as well.
If a person can’t trust you, you lose any chance at working with them. It all starts with communication and transparency. Show people that you are experienced by creating a quality website. Build a relationship by catering to people in your area. Serve all your customers well to create word of mouth advertising. Make a good first impression, and explain your rates in a way that everyone can understand.
If you put yourself in the shoes of your customers, you see into how they act and respond to certain architects. After that, you can setup your business to build a line of trust and always make your customers happy.
Let us know in the comments section if you have any questions about how people select architects. Share your own experiences and why you think people might select you over other architects.