AMI SIX+MAPS member Fred Hann is high in the sky, smiling down from magnificent terraces in luxury condo projects. Founder of Garden Connections based in Toronto, Canada, he is an award-winning master landscape architect. His firm is driven to create the most breathtaking beautiful balconies and terraces in the world for luxury condominium homeowners and for condominium developers and their buyers.
Fred found that by implementing the AMI marketing strategies for his landscape architecture firm, he has better projects, higher sales, an increase in website traffic and has needed to hire more staff. One of the benefits of the SIX+MAPS community of fellow ambitious architects is the motivational support system allowing him to share advice and his experiences in the program.
During weekly calls with experts Eric Bobrow and Richard Petrie, members consisting of architects, interior designers and landscape architects have the opportunity to ask questions, give and receive tips and learn techniques to help them grow their design businesses. With Eric leading this session, Fred Hann explained to everyone on the call how he achieved his wins.
Starting out on the right foot with his clients
Fred begins each of his client relationships by setting up ground rules. This positions the client as the hero of their project story and Fred as the valuable guide.
“I get the conversation going in a very relaxed way, but one of the things I do, with the Sandler Sales method, is developing a social contract with them.
“I tell them right up front: ‘We're upgrading your balcony or your terrace, and we know how important this is as an extension of your home. We're going to discuss things today and if you hear things that you're not comfortable with, if you think you've come into the wrong store because we're not the cheapest place in town by the way, by all means, tell me so we won't waste each other's time any further. Are you okay with that?’
“It really just changes the whole mood and tempo quite a bit for me, and it sets the expectations for them. They just let their guard down, and I let my guard down. It’s really cool engaging in conversation with people about an important transaction that can improve their lives.”
The power of the LCC is like scotch and popcorn
One of the most successful marketing strategies of AMI is the LCC (Low Commitment Consultation). When Eric asked about how he implemented the LCC, Fred responded, “In terms of the LCC and that whole process and value of what we provide, when we had the call with Richard, it was a spectacular call. We talked about our unique value of what we offer to our ideal clients and creating that X factor. It's almost like a quality that has no name for what we bring to our clients. We're creating a high valued result and for high valued service.”
AMI strategy includes teaching how to stop being just another architect and start delivering something of high value to a High Value Client (HVC). When your clients receive High Value Results (HVR) you can charge higher fees.
Fred told his fellow members, “I've increased my fees six times since March 2020, and I don't think we've seen the ceiling yet. We changed the value of our LCC by providing three different levels of service. We have the essential service, the studio service, and the signature service of project assessment. Our LCCs are very results-oriented. Our clients receive a very clear understanding of what they can and cannot do to upgrade their balconies or terraces; and it serves as the design criteria for their project when we proceed to Phase 2: Creating your Design. The LCCs are experiential in that we deliver a unique and memorable experience. And third, our LCC is scripted to the point that our procedures are consistent, documented, and transferable. We're in a constant state of beta and learning how to improve our LCC process and experience.
“The fee for our LCC service depends on the size and scope of the balcony or terrace upgrade. The LCC service for terraces is more demanding than for balconies, hence we require a higher fee…. Our balcony essential service assessment is $797 whereas for terraces it is $1297. There is a sliding scale for the LCC fees with the signature service for balconies topping at $2997 and $4997 for terraces. I've raised the fees three times in 2021 to find out what the market will bear and to high grade our client base. Occasionally when I'm interviewing a prospect I might change my mind and add 25% to the fee to see their response. I always start with the upper end of the price range. In our qualifying Zoom calls, we provide a summary of what the LCC assessment will cover and show client testimonials of their LCC experience. I've learned a lot in doing this; it's really cool.”
By using an analogy, Fred explained more in-depth how this marketing strategy has helped him shift his mindset and transform his business.
“The signature is like the $600 glass of scotch. It is not for everybody, but somebody out there is going to buy that $600 glass of scotch because it is there. Raising the price of the signature service from $1295 up to $4997 was really, really important. If I'm talking with a prospect who is really enthusiastic and wants it done fast, I'll suggest a fee that is equivalent to the $600 glass of scotch! That was a game-changer for our business.”
“It's like selling popcorn. Years ago, in movie theaters when they sold popcorn, they had small and large. Eighty percent bought the small size box and twenty percent bought the large box. It wasn't until somebody wondered why they weren't selling much of the large boxes. They introduced a third size, a supersize called the Big Kazooga, the grande, big monster bag of popcorn. It was a massive success. Everybody moved up along the line. 20% bought the small size, 60% the medium, which used to be called large, and 10 to 20% bought the supersize. That's what I've done.”
Increased traffic to his landscape architecture firm website
Thanks to his dedication in AMI’s SIX+MAPS program, even the volume of traffic to Fred’s website has increased.
“We're still getting several hundred visitors to our website on a daily basis. I was just astonished at this, and it's all happened since we've taken on the AMI process here. I think what you guys have created there is absolute magic. It's really changed my business. We've increased our revenues by nearly 600% since we started this process. It works. I'm the Kool Aid man, I'm in there. I bow to you. This really works.”
Fred shared more of the marketing secrets he learned from the SIX+MAPS program as the interview continued. “We changed the whole SELL process. We haven't spent a dime in marketing, other than the services that I'm paying for with AMI. A lot of traffic comes from either referrals or SEO.
“We've completely revised our keywords, and the other thing I've done, in the past year and a half now, I've written a book. I've written a book on how to upgrade a balcony and how to upgrade a terrace. I've created a program for training contractors to become certified balcony installers, which we call Balconology™.”
If you could only change one thing …
Eric asked Fred to continue talking about the transformation for the benefit of the members, “What was the main thing you implemented? If you were to just redo it and do one thing, what would that be?”
Fred explained how he has packaged his offers, shifted his mindset and set better boundaries with clients: “I unbundled everything that we did and I broke it into small bite-size pieces. The big thing that I changed was what was going on between my two ears and also my attitude about the type of clients I want to serve.
“Boy, I’ve got to say it was really tough in the beginning. I turned down more than I accepted. Prospective clients to whom I would ordinarily say, ‘oh yeah, I got to have them, I'll do that,’ and now I say to everybody right up front, ‘look we're not for everybody. We're not the cheapest service in town, but I can assure you that at the end of this, we're going to create a space for you that's going to fundamentally transform your experience living in a condo in a high-rise building. You'll never be the same. We're going to absolutely help you complete your beautiful life.’”
Embracing the transformation
Fred admitted, “I'm a very shy and reserved person. I was absolutely terrified of speaking to affluent people about the cost of my services for fear of rejection. Now I can't get enough of it. I absolutely love it. Marketing and sales have become one of my favorite activities in my practice. I can't wait to get out of bed in the morning. I really look forward to having the introductory qualifying conversations with prospects.”
“I think the big thing for me was the mind game and the gratitude, being thankful. If you're feeling miserable, find something that you can really say I am so lucky because of this, that, and the other thing. Then one thing after another will start to pile up: why I'm so lucky, why you're so lucky.”
What did Fred say when asked about his business?
Fred told a story to his fellow SIX+MAPS members of a recent visit to his doctor’s office. “I had to go see my physician today for an annual check-up. He says, ‘How is business going?’ and I said, ‘Man, it's been spectacular.’ ‘So tell me again what you do,’ and I told him, and he says, ‘Man, we just bought a new condo,’ and he says, ‘When can you come over? Look, I've got some friends that are buying condos too. They've got to have your services.’
“It's fantastic. I've become the chief evangelist in the company now. We've gone from four employees and service providers to twelve. I'm anticipating by this time next year, based on our goals and business plans, the need to double the number of people working with us.”
Fred attributes the results to AMI’s marketing strategies for architects
There are so many marketing strategies just for architects, interior designers, and landscape architects that Fred learned through AMI. The benefits of the program and the support of fellow members changed his business, bringing him better projects, higher sales and a higher level of clients.
“This has all happened to me since I started AMI and the Sunshine Island and yourself (Eric) and Richard have been absolutely fantastic. The other thing, I really learn a lot from the other designers and business owners who are on the calls. I learn about their frustrations, and the actions they are taking to correct it. I know exactly how you feel. I don't have the golden tablets on this. It's still very much a work in progress.
“I follow Richard's advice right to the T, right to the letter in terms of having that process really nailed down. If anybody wants to take me out of my element, take me off my game, I say ‘Look, I don't think this is going to work for us. If you don't believe me, here's a list, here are phone numbers, the names and email addresses of people you can talk to. It worked for them too.’
“I've changed the whole [mindset] thing from being ‘I’ve got to get into the office and I've got to do this work’. Now, it's not work anymore. I'm surrounding myself with others who are strong in the areas where I'm weak. I'm playing to my strengths. I'm having fun.”
“The people that I hire have a great sense of humor. They're all really happy people. They're completely chilled. I’ve got to be around people that are light and embrace the world of possibility.”
Finding a niche — terrace and balcony projects
While Fred was exploring marketing strategies for his company, he began to realize that he was going too wide in terms of who he is trying to attract as clients and then he made a big change.
He shared, “I followed Richard's advice and became laser-focused on identifying the ideal client I wanted to attract and work with. We looked at all the clients we enjoyed creating designs for over the past eight years and began to see patterns emerging. We looked at each past client and narrowed it down to three types of affluent homeowners who were either downsizing from a large home and buying a condo for their principal residence or existing condo owners who were upsizing and wanted a bigger home.
“Next, we examined our values and filtered our list by comparing them with what we believed to be the values of our ideal clients. When it was all said and done. We identified our ideal prospects who we call Gino & Roberta and Louis & Robert. We developed personas for both couples. We know their values, expectations, income levels, where they hang out online, what they read, the kinds of cars they drive and the type of wine they like. Now we can recognize them a mile away.
“This fundamentally changed our path forward. And we took the same approach to identify the ideal B2B commercial relationships we have with condo developers. They all have undeveloped balconies and terraces and we've developed the domain expertise to transform them like nobody else can and in a way that provides an experience they are quite happy to share with their friends and families.
“We've anything but salesy when we talk with prospects. We don't knock on their door, they knock on ours. We are building our business by building a value hub around our ideal client.
“Three key things I've learned is: People will buy more if you give them a choice, people will want something more if they worry they might not be able to get it, and when I charged more for our service, some people wanted it more and they are willing to pay 100% of the fee upfront.”
This success is all because Fred now realizes he has TWO jobs: First as a Marketer of design services and second, as a Designer.
Frederick Hann is this month's Sunshine Island Hero.