When Jaipal Singh, principal and founding owner of Chaatrik Architecture and Urban Design based in Cincinnati, Ohio, joined AMI, he was a one-man show. Now, a year later, he has 5 employees, a deep pipeline, and the team is working on several large contracts for 2022 and beyond. Jaipal’s latest hire will allow him to have the time to get creative about shaping the firm's vision. And, not only has he been able to delegate day-to-day operations to his team, he was able to shut the office down for two weeks during the holidays!
What actions has Jaipal taken and what’s changed? Well, he has shifted his mindset from “I got to just get the work done and I'll work through the holidays to satisfy clients,” to “I'm making a successful business. I'm bringing in the work. We have enough work that we can take time off, be with family, and give priority to these important things that often are neglected.”
Jaipal credits the change to lessons learned through AMI and the SIX+MAPS program. In a recent meeting coached by Eric Bobrow with fellow members, Jaipal shared some of his results from the actions he’s taken inspired by the program.
Implementing strategies right from the start of the program
Slowly working his way through the program, Jaipal did implement a few things right away. He told his fellow AMI members, “I implemented the LCC [Low Commitment Consultation] and the Needs and Options Review. I [also] really found a lot of value in the weekly group discussions, learning a lot from others.”
Jaipal’s been testing and experimenting with the teachings all year. He has translated this knowledge to his team saying, “Here's our sales process. Here's our marketing strategy. We do things our way and we now have a structured system to qualify clients and secure contracts.”
And since he has been able to offer such clear focus to his team, Jaipal's firm is operating in several sectors. This project diversity coupled with specific marketing strategies allows him to channel his passion by working on something new every day. Guided by the SIX+MAPS program, he’s narrowed down to specific niches, going after clients and developing relationships. Plus, the education from the monthly newsletters, the modules and group discussions have helped him grow. His niches include high-end custom renovations, multi-family urban renewal, retail, restaurant/hospitality, religious/spiritual facilities, and community centers.
Doubling revenue through a change in mindset
Jaipal talked about how the change in mindset helped him double his revenue.
“The beginning of 2021 and the beginning of 2022 are like night and day. We doubled our gross revenue. In full transparency, my 2022 goal is to just ramp it up, put in a lot of effort [in the SIX+MAPS program], and triple our revenue this year to finally become a million-dollar gross revenue business.”
“Holy cow, that's what architects should be doing. We're worth it. We have the training, the expertise, all of tools to do it.”
“I'm not a money-hungry type person at all. I have just visualized the SIX mindset of Sunshine Island. I have those dreams and goals; been applying the mindset work following the modules from Richard. I've been working on this quite a lot and it’s true, it happens. So, it's pretty awesome and validating and quite humbling to be in this position.”
Jaipal inspired his fellow SIX+MAPS members
It’s easier to put these practices into place when you have coaching and support, not just from Eric Bobrow and Richard Petrie, but from fellow SIX+MAPS members.
Jaipal said to his peers, “Put some effort into it, then really take it to the next level. [SIX+MAPS member] Eleanor [Clarke] has been really helpful. She got me to believe in the Needs and Options Review, not directly just by listening to her, but by testing it out and playing around with it. And then I adapted the script and I made it my own and now it's just how I operate.
“The Needs & Options works every time. It may not bring in a project, but it definitely weeds out the red flags from every client and every process. And now we have Google reviews, testimonials and people coming back and saying how great we are as a firm. And it's just because we're following a very structured process. We're not really doing anything that different. They feel like they're getting served and that makes me feel all the better.”
Critical knowledge sharing about finding clients
To help benefit the SIX+MAPS members, Eric asked Jaipal how the clients are finding his firm.
“A lot comes cold from Google. Our Google business listing is working on SEO… We have a number of Google reviews. We have over 20 now, which is better than the three or four we had before. If a client is very happy, and we're ending a design meeting and they're like, ‘This is great. This is wonderful. Thank you for this and this.’ And they're feeling positive and energetic. That's the moment I take to say, ‘Hey, would it be okay to send you a quick link?’ And there's a direct link you can send and they can do a review.
“We use Google reviews and testimonials. And those testimonials show up on our website. Also [we gather] testimonials from Houzz and others. Those are very important. There are pipeline projects that come cold from Google. There's stuff that comes through the Ask the Expert. That's set up on the website. We run ads on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook. We're running our ads and organically advertising.”
Jaipal’s experiences and results of video for marketing
Exploring specific marketing strategies together, AMI members learn from the experts on our team (Eric and Richard) and from each other. They get to share what works and what doesn’t. Jaipal spoke of his experiences and his results of video marketing:
“When I say ads, it's only videos. It's rather basic, to be honest, but we can ramp up. Then we post on social media, not as often as I'd like to, but a couple of times a week or at least a couple of times a month… For a business or industry like ours, once a week, twice a week is really good.”
“I don't spend that time making [videos] myself anymore. I think it's worth the few 100 bucks to ask somebody to help me put together a video. We have shot some video content of interviews, testimonials with clients, myself or videos of a project, but there's a lot that you can put together.
“We have a couple of videos of static images, project images, and graphics. They go a long way. It's a 20-second or 30-second video, anything longer is not going to get likes. And no audio, except for some background music. But people are looking at this on their phone for probably two seconds and they're deciding whether or not they want to watch the rest of it.
“The first couple seconds have to be something eye-popping that gets them to the end. And then there's always a link or an ad to the website, which goes directly to the Ask the Expert. So that's the Monkey's Fist concept. We're really just scratching the surface. But I know that architects like myself who haven’t really done well to promote themselves—just these little, little things have really worked.”
SIX+MAPS members are curious about Jaipal’s website
One of the great parts of the SIX+MAPS program is the candid knowledge sharing and open discussions between the members.
When one of the members asked if the videos are on Jaipal’s website, he responded, “No, actually they haven't even made it to the website yet … We redesigned the website at the end of 2020. I'm finally kind of proud of the branding and the colors and the fonts and all those little things that we labor over. But now we have the ability to take the website to that next step and add a lot more content. Videos is one thing we will be adding, for sure.”
“Our next step is developing the website, adding more blog posts and demonstrating our expertise as thought leaders. And then promoting that on social media to help carry our firm to the next level.”
Networking and newsletters generate business
Being online isn’t the only way that Jaipal has been generating business. AMI guides architects in multiple ways to generate business. Two of those routes are writing newsletters and doing networking.
Jaipal shared, “We're in the process of creating a newsletter that can go to our legacy clients and try to get more repeat clients. Solid client experience has really led to the success in getting more projects.”
In addition, he said, “I’m networking like crazy, getting out of the office, attending meetings, whether it's a BNI meeting or a chamber meeting, or setting up one-to-ones, setting up lunches, attending events. None of those things feel like they're helping you with your project or feel like you're getting any money from it. It's very uncomfortable to walk away from a project or a deadline that's depending on you.
“But I've been putting a lot more insistence on saying, ‘If I'm going to be the leader of the firm, it's my job. My job is not to get the work done. That's the team's job. My job is to get the work.’
“And that's what I've been doing. Networking. I know a lot of people now that I didn't know before, and a lot of people know us that didn't know us before. Just word of mouth and organic conversations, being authentic and not being a salesman. Being genuine and being a good person, going around and helping others in their businesses. And I love being out and about with other business owners.
“So, I would say things are night and day between a year or two ago versus now. I know so many other business owners, others that are trying to start their businesses and entrepreneurs. Those are the conversations that we have. Those are the sort of areas that we help one another develop and grow.
“And I happen to be the architect and leave every conversation saying, ‘If you ever need an architect…’ And so it just kind of becomes implied. And then suddenly, a week or so later, somebody would say, ‘Hey, I was talking to my buddy. Maybe they need an architect.’ And then I just carry it forward. And it may or may not turn into a project, but that's where a lot of the pipeline comes from.”
Jaipal is taking action based on proven methods
With better projects and an increase in revenue, Jaipal is proof that the methods from AMI work. The change in mindset and an action plan that brings results means that Jaipal is moving forward, growing his business and winning better projects.
Jaipal added these final thoughts, “Try not to focus on the gap between you and your goal. Focus on how far you’ve come, the gain. Focusing more on the gain and your accomplishments actually inspires and motivates you to go further. It allows you to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be. Think more positive than negative. Be inspired.”
Thank you, Jaipal, for sharing your success.
This success is all because Jaipal now realizes he has TWO jobs:
- Marketer of design services
Jaipal is this month's Sunshine Island Hero.
Sunshine Island: A Parable Of Architectural Success
If you are in any way responsible for winning projects or bringing in the money, then you must read Sunshine Island. It is a charming story by Richard Petrie that teaches you how to master the #1 skill you never got taught at architecture school. Read chapter 1 on our blog or buy the book here.