Creative Collaboration

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Working With Architects And Interior Designers

There is no question that the global economic slowdown is reducing the number of projects available for building industry professionals to pursue. As a result, architectural and interior design professionals are seeing increased competition and are challenged by diminishing revenue. Further, it is clear that over the next few years this will inevitably lead to fewer projects for systems integrators and consultants. As the architects’ and interior designers’ workload diminishes, what can integrators, consultants, and manufacturers do to bolster relationships and win new work?

MARKETING TO DESIGN PROFESSIONALS
This is an ideal time to offer and

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It is important that your firm is the one architects contact for input and support. present lunch and learn continuing education programs to the architects and interior designers in you region. Both the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) have guidelines for certified continuing education programs, and their members are required to complete units each year to maintain their licenses and certifications. Both InfoComm and NSCA have pre-packaged programs that meet these requirements that you, as a member, can draw on. Becoming a certified education systems provider gives you an entree into many design offices. Further, AIA and IIDA are chapter- based and host monthly meetings, which provide other venues for potential informational programs delivered by your firm.

This is also a great time to make sure your target list of architecture contacts receive your latest press releases on new people, projects, or design awards. Include photos of the latest technology. The sizzle of technology is often what they need to differentiate their approach to their potential clients, and can set you up as a resource in their marketing efforts.

It is absolutely the right time to contact all of your previous building design relationships and find out what their perspective is on the recession, and what kind of projects they are pursuing. Helping them identify trends and support them in their pursuit of opportunities is a sure way to strengthen your relationship.

WORKING WITH DESIGN PROFESSIONALS
For systems integrators, manufacturers, and reps, it is important to understand the content of a variety of deliverables, their timing in the design process, and the format for the deliverables that the design professionals expect. The building industry is moving quickly toward integrated project delivery, a collaborative contractual model uniting client, designer, and general contractor early in the project’s development, and based on just-in-time rapid delivery, 3D, data-rich component- based modeling. Soon, it will become increasingly important for you to become capable (and expert) with new building information modeling systems (e.g., Autodesk’s Revit or Bentley’s Tri- Forma) and knowledgeable in using the latest Construction Specifications Institute MasterFormat 50-section specification guidelines to stay ahead of your competition. Do you know where your specs belong?

Where your marketing effort succeeds in getting you in the door, failure to perform at an expected level of professional standard will inevitably take you back out, closing the door forever behind you.

COLLABORATING
Survey your existing, and best, end-user “client” contacts. Find out who is planning future, new or renovation, or even maintenance, building or interiors projects. Bring that information to your architect and design relationships. Set up a face-to-face meeting for you, the architect/designer, and the client’s facilities management staff. Nothing strengthens a B2B relationship like a solid lead or a new relationship.

If you market, deliver, and collaborate during challenging times, you and your firm will be greatly appreciated as part of their team. The architects and interior designers you work with will then find other projects for you to collaborate on with them in the future—good times or bad.

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