Whoever Tells The Best Story Wins

“I can’t charge a fee when others are doing site visits and giving ideas away for free.”

Yes, you can!

Price is only an issue when value is a mystery.

Last week we agreed that while there are a lot of things for free, many people still prefer to use the paid version.

TV channels, water, food, holidays, and transport, are all examples.

People understand the value of cable TV, so education is not required, but an architect's advice is another story.

Until people understand the benefits and consequences of good or bad architect's advice, they will not understand the value.

OK, do you want the good news or the bad news?

Bad news: The job of teaching people what VALUE your advice delivers belongs to you.
Good news: 95% of architects do a woeful job. You don’t have to be a great teacher – just better than the 95%.

That’s not hard.

At the Architects Marketing Academy, we run a whole module on this transformational topic. Some architects, like Ian from Melbourne, Australia, have recouped the whole Academy membership by winning just one pre-design advice fee.

Here are three tools to get you started:

Preframe the meeting.
Demonstrate value by exposing their gaps.
Use a metaphor.

1) Preframe the meeting

This is where we grab the bull by the horns. Hold on, cowboy.

Great thanks, (NAME) if it is OK I’d like to outline how we help people who are in the early stages of investigating their renovation options.

1. We start by asking a few questions to understand what you want and what stage you are at to see if we can help you. If we are not the best for you, I will refer you to someone I think is better suited.

2. However, if I think we can help you, I’ll give you a rundown of who we are and the starting process we use to help people with their research and evaluate their options. This is called the Needs and options review.

3. Then if we both are ready to move forward, we can arrange a time to meet and get the Needs and Options review started. Do you feel comfortable with that process?

Is that ok?

What have we achieved?

They have agreed to OUR agenda during the meeting.
We are just offering to assess their suitability.
They have agreed to answer our questions (we are interviewing them for suitability NOT the other way around).
They have agreed the Needs and Options review is the next step.

Now we have our hands on the steering wheel – life is a lot easier because:

“Either the client follows your process for buying
or you end up following their process for not buying.”

Now we want THEM to tell us that they need a Needs and Options review. Impossible?

Here’s how we do a little mind control.

2) Demonstrate value by exposing their gaps

Ok, Mr. Prospect…
1. Out of ten how clear are you on exactly what you need?
Wait and record the score.

2. Out of ten how aware are you of all the various options your site will accommodate?
Wait and record the score, this number should be lower and come with a confused expression on the face.

3. Out of ten how confident are you that you are aware of all the legal requirements?
Wait and record the score. The head should be shaking slowly from side to side now. Uncertainty is taking over, and a sense of ‘not ready’ is starting to invade the prospects mind. This is like watching a statue melt, enjoy it.

4. Out of ten how aware are you of the process you will need to have in place to get the project completed on time and on budget?
Wait and record the score. Expect a frustrated even disappointed expression as the realise they are not even on the starting line and more work is needed.

5. Out of ten how confident are you that your budget will achieve your needs?
Wait and record the score. Now comes resigned acceptance of defeat. They may feel a little embarrassed at their lack of preparation. This is an excellent emotion to have installed in the once proud type A warrior. The warrior is now been reduced to a small child and is looking for a confident hand to hold.

Now with a firm fatherly tone say…

Don’t worry about not being able to answer these questions yet. The Needs and Options review will allow us to fill in the gaps and get you ready to move to the design phase.

The first step you will need to complete next is the Needs and Options review.

We designed this process a few years ago because there is a huge issue of people starting design and construction BEFORE they have fully done their homework.

We would see many renovation projects go over time and over budget.

What have we achieved?

That they are not ready to proceed to the design phase.
That the project could easily go over time and budget without this information.
That the needs and options review will fill the gap and save the day.

You are a hero having saved this poor client from the jaws of cost overruns and unexamined assumptions.

3. Use a metaphor

Sometimes the difference between a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’ is just a good metaphor. If they agree to the metaphor, then they have no way to argue against you.

You are aware that houses need a solid foundation?

The consequence of inadequate upfront research of needs and options is like building a house on bad foundations.

The foundations are the most important part of the whole house because everything is built on top.

That’s what makes us different; we spend more time on the research than most other firms who rush their clients into the design phase, because that is where they earn more money.

Do proper research upfront or you are playing Russian Roulette with your budget.
Does this make sense?
I love that line.

What have we achieved?

That the Needs and Options review is like the foundations of the house.
That they would be foolish to proceed without solid foundations.
That you are the only responsible architect for conducting such a session.

Powerful right? Of course.
This approach has already earned members of the academy thousands of dollars because…

Doing a paid pre-design research IS actually valuable.
This is not a trick but simply giving it to them straight.

Click here to watch the full webinar training on this topic

Remember in Part 3 you will see the breakdown of a specific pre-design service that is very easy to sell, increases your chances of getting the design work and also guarantees the project you run is the best organised ever.


2 comments on “Whoever Tells The Best Story Wins

  1. danstan on said:

    Thank you Richard for the important read. Indeed we are always giving free advice and even design ideas. If educate the clients on the real value of an architect they are bound to seem that paying for an architect’s advice is money well spent. I certainly value the advice you give.

  2. I’m looking forward to actually employing this dialogue in a real-life situation.

    Thanks, Richard

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