Many people who run businesses aren’t in it because they love it, and they aren’t constantly motivated to change things for the better. Why should they if it is working? It is only when other pressures force a reassessment that they start looking at their business practices in more depth. And that’s when things get interesting for their suppliers.
I’ve been contacted by several 3D visualisation firms over the last few days, interested to find out why they are having difficulty getting work. Here are my thoughts, which might equally apply to architects themselves.
If you are not selling the commissions you were, then there are a possible number of reasons for this.
- The work has dried up for everyone;
- Someone else has taken the work from you;
- The work has been Redefined.
Who actually buys your services? The person who buys is the key to your understanding of the market. If you can’t understand the client and their motivation then you’ll be unable to adjust your offer to meet their need.
1. Why Work Dries Up
When do people commission visualisations? It seems to me that architects either do them in house or buy them in for a client, and building project clients might commission the visualisations themselves. The visualisations are going to be commissioned for a particular purpose, such as to support a planning application or an application for funding, or for marketing of the project as a whole or individual parts of it, for example as part of the marketing of the building.
Causes of visualisation commissions drying up might be simply due to a slowing down of the development process because
- fewer planning applications are being made;
- fewer properties are being sold (and therefore marketed).
So it is pretty likely, given the current climate, that there is less visualisation work about. Which brings us to number 2.
2. Why Someone Else Takes Your Work
If the industry is being squeezed, the people who commission you might well have decided to make efficiency savings. One of the things they are looking at is how to save on the cost of visualisations. If you are competing in an oversupplied market (like architects, or visualisers) it is essential to be prepared for people undercutting you.
If you want to avoid competing on price (and who wants to do that?) then effort has to be expended in making sure that you have the right client base and that they value you for the right reasons, which mustn’t include low costs. That means getting your lead generation process finely tuned, so you get leads from the ideal client type. It might also mean you need to go looking for different clients. If they exist.
If you take the time to research your clients then it might soon become apparent however, that there is another reason why your work might be drying up, and this is much more serious, even than the price cut.
The Third Reason
When people start making an effort to cut costs, existing established, long standing relationships come under the sort of scrutiny they don’t normally get. Within the process of cost cutting people also start reassessing how they can change the services they use, or whether they can do without certain services altogether.
For example, they may decide to stop renewing their servers and move to a cloud based computer system. They might find someone inhouse who is short of things to do but keen on visualisation, to do the 3Ds themselves. Forget that you might be better at it than them, that isn’t in their radar at the moment.
They might even cut out the service altogether and try to rely on other, cheaper methods of achieving the same thing. The worst bit is, whilst they are doing this, even if they don’t find a cheaper method, they will find different methods. And they might like them, and the phone will stop ringing.
What to Do
So what can you do about this? The answer is to be nimble.
Be constantly aware of how your clients are feeling, where the market is moving, what the threats and opportunities are in your industry. And then act.
Scrutinise what you are offering to your clients and see if it matches their concerns. If it doesn’t, do something that will. Whilst you are at it, make it something special, something different. Something they’ll like to find.
No use trying the same old service if the goalposts have moved.
No use complaining things shouldn’t be changing.
What are they going to change into?
Image: Looking at The Wave from a different angle by Alaskan Dude
Sabina Lo says
Great post and advice to @pixarchnet and a lot of us trying to do business in the current climate in the building industry. You are right – with less work to go around businesses have to work harder and smarter to get work now. It’s the only way to survive.
Very concise and up to date. Re coming under scrutiny for the first time: I was speaking to a friend who has worked for the same client for 3 years, last month he was asked what his rates would be on the next job. Erm, same as usual, nothing has changed. He was never called back. In that case the client went for cheaper, and apparently got less work done. As you say, my mate has to think about that change in the landscape and be ready the next time a regular calls. Probably needs to remind clients the value of what he is offering. Still, a little disturbing how a sniff of recession brings about irrational and kneejerk behaviour on both sides of the deal.
Dhiran Vagdia says
Thanks Su. An interesting subject. Our Practice has realised that change is essential. And it happens, every day, every Client. If you cant or wont change, today’s market will pass over you.
Alice Ngigi says
Quite a number of reason.