Puppy Eye Syndrome: Why Good Architects Have To Use Puppy Eyes To Win Projects & Get Paid

by Jonathan DeCollibus on October 23, 2012

In helping architects stuff their portfolios with premium projects (yes I just said that) from the far reaches of Europe all the way to my home state of California, one thing is for certain.

Architects globally are only struggling with one of two issues.

Numero Uno.

The pipeline problem.
This by far the most chronic and painful symptom.

It doesn’t go away with more word of mouth, more RSVPs, more referrals… in fact, it seems to get worse.

It’s hard enough being an architect.

Hard enough having to run a firm that requires 10X more coffee than guy next door.

It requires creativity, heart, big vision and most of all – skill.

On top of that, you have to juggle the business side of the business.

Sure, you get the call for the odd job, the illegal addition that needs to be drafted… and there’s no steady, consistent river of premium, high-fee projects.

Or they want to perform like Zaha Hadid while they pay you like your the freelancing intern at the office.

Why is there’s no steady, consistent river of premium, high-fee projects?
And yet, some architects seem to have no problem with this. I’ll explain why in a moment.

The problem with this, is that most architects are like the hopeful actor moving to LA – waiting to get discovered.

Bussing tables, waiting for that director to find you and give you the starring role in the new Fast and Furious, alongside the Rock, Vin Diesel and Jason Statham.

At the end of the day – most architects end up giving up and settling for less.

How surprised would you be if your phone just make a loud and sustained ding noise?

You pick it up and check your email.

There’s a form filled out with a quality developer or owner who has a premium project that they need (not want) to have you and only you take on.

And how surprised would you be if they were already sold on you, your firm, and your fees… before they reached out to you?

And pretend that this happened once or twice a day… five days a week.

This is the experience that my office specializes in creating.

If this sounds idealistic, unrealistic or just “pie in the sky”… I know exactly how you feel.

In fact, most of our clients felt the exact same way, it’s a common belief in our industry.

What we found was that when you get shift your approach of winning projects – from “forcing demand”, i.e., relying on word of mouth, squeezing past clients for referrals… when you can shift from that – to simply stepping into the current demand that already exists, you’ll get more projects, more often – at a higher fee.

Because it’s simple economics. When there is one of you and hundreds of them – you are the prize. You get to pick and choose.

When there’s hundreds of you and one of them… they negotiate, they walk away – and you’re left going back to the drawing board.

This simple shift in approach means more profit, better projects and a better future as an architect.

Can you imagine if you had the next 90 days fully booked out – you couldn’t take on any more clients – and you still have premium projects rolling in every day?

Some architects don’t have to imagine – they experience it first hand, day in and day out.

The beautiful thing about fixing the pipeline is that – as we say, fix the pipeline and you’ll be fine.

Once this is fixed – your firm can take you places you can only dream about now.

Once this is fixed – you can take your eyes off the business worries and refocus on what you came in this business to do.

I’m out of time my architecturalistic friend.

Jonathan DeCollibus

P.S. And if you’re interested in a stuffed-to-the-nines pipeline, stuffed with premium projects, reach out to my office by sending a text at (650) 203-6019.





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