Uploaded by Daniel M


ARC 563
1. Establish your GOALS:
What kind of practice:
Small, large?
Commercial, institutional, residential?
Idea, special, general service?
Interior design, planning, graphic, landscape . . . Besides architecture?
Your mission and vision statements need to be pulled out, updated, and edited.
2. Develop a BUDGET:
Provide for how you will have an income upon which to live but, more importantly, establish a
budgetary operating statement that covers all of your predictable overhead.
Include a contingency.
3. Make BANK arrangements:
Checking account.
Long term loan.
And establish a LINE OF CREDIT.
Line up collateral or a guarantor to give the bank protection of its loan.
4. Establish a NAME:
Make it something that will last "forever" as a brand.
Have it be simple, memorable, and memorizable.
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Avoid "alphabet soup" as a name.
Your own name is the best name.
Add "and associates" to make you sound bigger.
Get the words "architecture" or "architects"
5. Find a LOCATION:
Easily accessible for your clients and your marketplace.
A "good" address.
A decent professional environment but with a "design sense" about it.
Not the back stairs to a cool loft above a defunct fish market.
Do not start it in your house . . . barking dogs, crying babies.
A store front is not bad.
Negotiate a rent that starts low and rises later as you are established.
Ask for three or four months of free rent.
6. Get a "business" CREDIT CARD:
Helps with your bookkeeping in tracking costs.
It also will have a lending capability . . . Like a line of credit, but very expensive.
Phone service, fax service, cell phone, Internet.
Have the phone number be memorable and memorizable, fax number similar.
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Conference call service and cell phone interconnect.
Voice mail or answering machine.
Single e-mail point.
Two or three e-mail address and you can lose important communications.
8. Get your MARKETING output lined up:
Web page: make it simple to navigate . . . very user friendly
Facebook: get a professional Facebook page set up.
Linked in: this is the professional networking site.
Design a simple pocket-sized triple-fold brochure.
Design a flexible more serious and complete brochure to send out with letters of introduction.
Include images of projects that you worked on at previous firms to prove "big project" capability.
Give credit to previous firms. Include some school work that has a believable architectural rather
than a theoretical aspect to it. List all awards, citations, even scholarships awarded.
Remember to put all contact information on every piece of material.
9. Organize your PUBLIC RELATIONS launch.
Develop your mailing list and your contacts list on your computer.
Design your announcement of your firm opening for "snail mail" and e-mail release.
Write your press release of the opening of your new office for local and regional publication.
When the time comes, PERSONALLY visit every editor to introduce yourself and ask them to
publish your story.
10. Design and get printed STATIONERY:
Design consistency across all pieces is critical.
If you have a logo it should appear everywhere.
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Calling cards.
Letter head.
Second pages.
Mailing labels.
Note cards.
Note pads.
11. Line up and make sure all LICENSES to do business professionally are current and paid for.
State architectural license: Watch out for Interior Design, Landscape, and Planning licenses which
some states require.
State commercial license, local commercial permit.
12. Confirm all INSURANCES are in place:
Errors and Omissions. (Get Certificate of Insurance to show to clients who ask)
Workman's comp.
Auto insurance for employee coverage in driving your or the firm's cars.
Fire insurance.
Valuable papers insurance.
Loss of business insurance.
Also, possibly:
Employee health insurance
Employee dental insurance
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Employee vision insurance
Disability insurance
Employee Dishonesty Insurance
Insurance agent
14. JOIN up:
- A.I.A.
- SMPS (Society for Marketing Professional Services)
- Chamber of Commerce
- Regional Chamber of Commerce
- Rotary Club
- Local professional/business organizations
- Planning, Zoning, School Boards
This is where you start to build your network of clients and/or people that will lead you to clients.
15. Line up your office EQUIPMENT:
You can buy used equipment.
You can lease new or used equipment.
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Leasing takes less cash, but you do need to be able to meet the lease payments or the equipment
gets pulled out and you are left with nothing.
Basic equipment:
- Multi-task copier for faxing, 8.5x11 and 11x17 copies, in black and white and full color.
- Plotter for color and B&W large prints
- Hole punch and binding machine for brochures (remember to consider the binding material in
designing you brochure . . . Color, material, and the "real estate" that it takes up on the cover and the
margin of each page).
- Postage meter.
- Laser cutter (optional)
- Heavy duty stapler
- Packing tape dispenser
- Craft Papers
16. Identify your CONSULTANTS:
- Structural Engineers
- Mechanical Engineers
- Civil Engineers
- Soil Consultants
- Environmentalists
- Landscape Architects
- Acoustical Consultants
- Curtain Wall Specialist
- Masonry Consultants
- Interior Designer
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- Graphic Designer
- Lighting Consultants
- Food Service Consultants
Have all of these consultants give you their marketing material and their knowing you are in
business and a potential source for their services will help spread the word that you are in business.
17. Identify you first ARCHITECTURAL HIRES:
- Take a hard look at yourself and honestly identify your weaknesses.
- Then, make a list of your hires who best fill in those weaknesses.
- Senior technical architect who can do a complete set of construction drawings by him/herself and
can administer construction.
- Senior architect who is well connected in a particular market or in the community.
- Interns who are facile with computer presentations and talented at design and graphics.
- Secretary, office manager, who has great organization skills and some knowledge of marketing,
bookkeeping and human resources policies.
- The bookkeeping function should be with you from the very beginning and you should consider a
retired accountant or a stay-at-home mom with the right experience to do your accounting. Does not
need to be full-time.
- As you are doing your internship, keep noting who is good to work with, who knows more than you
do, who would be a good leader and still loyal to you, who would want to join your team at a
reasonable salary.
18. Get a BUZZ GOING that you are going to open your business.
Spend time meeting with people who can help you find work, make connections.
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Ask them for HELP and ask them for names.
Thank each one with a personal note.
These do not have to be meetings over lunch, breakfast, or dinner, all of which cost money.
They can be one-hour meetings at your or THEIR office.
Who to meet? . . .
Politicians . . . Federal, state, county, and local . . . Give them something to "brag" as they
move among their constituencies.
Realtors...offer to help them "vision" what could be done with a house, a building, a piece of
land by doing a sketch and meeting with their prospect. Realtors can give you a feel for what is
going on in real estate which is where a lot of projects get started.
Contractors . . . Talk about working with them, even offer to do "design-build" where you will
design projects for their "customers" who probably called them before calling an architect. They
will also tell their customers they need an architect and to call you.
Bankers . . . Every project needs money and that gets everyone considering a building to visit
a bank.
Every banker is interested in having you as a customer so they will want to help you. Have a
bank account in every bank in your town.
The bankers can also include regional funding agencies such as an economic development
authority or a state bonding agency.
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Building Officials . . . The local building inspectors and planning officials also know what is
going on in the world of development and, though they cannot recommend you specifically,
they can include you in a list of candidates that someone undertaking a project might
You will want to get them to know you early in the game anyway . . . Before you are
representing a client on a project.
Educational Leaders . . . This is the one market sector that continues to grow, and you
should get in contact with this source of future prospects . . . From CEO's of major companies
to the parents simply looking for an architect to design their "dream home". This same market
segment is looking for architects who are connected to their donor base to provide gifts to
make the expansion of their school happen.
The key to entry into this marketplace is to offer to help them raise funds for their next capital
expansion for which they will need an architect.
19. Set up YOUR OFFICE:
Remember that the clients LOVE to come to your office.
Architect's offices are viewed as really "cool" places to go to.
Your office is your biggest selling opportunity.
Make sure the space is inviting and that the staff is prepared, on a moment's notice, to give an
explanation of what they are doing and how important it is.
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It should feel comfortable, a bit aspirational, and inspirational while still having a sense of reality!
Make the furnishings austere and make sure the artwork (if any) is not confrontational or
inappropriate to the prospective market.
20. The OPENING:
Invite the press . . . And make sure the press release about your opening is in their hands when they
leave the opening party . . . Not when they arrive.
Have really good food and a good bar.
The best way to a client's brain is through their stomach . . . And their liver.
Invite every politician, banker, realtor, contractor and governmental official you have met.
(A lot of government folks will not come for political and P.R. reasons, but they will feel insulted if not
Invite every friend, former fellow student, former teacher, and family member.
Invite every clerk, service person, secretary you have EVER met . . . They will do more good for your
new firm by bragging more about what a nice person you are than all the "big deals" you could ever
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Have your new space really "shine" as a creative center for architecture.
Make it as wonderful for your guests as possible . . . good food, great music (can it be live?), and
even valet parking . . . depending on the location.
Have all of your important projects on display and staff around to explain them in the most positive
way possible.
Remember, every person who comes and looks around at who else is there will be making a
judgement on your importance and influence by whom-else they see at your party.
Follow up with personal "thank you for coming!" notes the day after... To everyone!!!
21. Two key things to remember as the KEY TO SUCCESS!
#1 Don't ever panic . . . Just be cool . . . Always.
#2 Most important of all . . . HAVE FUN!!! It is a wonderful profession . . . Really!