Finding the Magic!…Who is Your Ideal Client?

There is something to be said for the “profession of architecture.”
I recently read a book entitled The Art of Classical Details II An Ideal Collaboration by Phillip James Dodd. There is an interesting chapter in the book called “Fortune Favours the Friendly” by Francis Terry and it has started a dialogue in our office about the magic that occurs when working with your ideal client.

Let me start by saying that throughout my 47 year career, I have been blessed to work with many amazing families, and I have received referrals from 3 generations of happy clients. “Designing houses is not only what I do for a living; but it is what I love to do.” However, there have been a few clients along the way that have left me sitting at the board wondering why we were engaged? We lost the magic!

Like you, I take a tremendous amount of pride in my work and there is always that little extra something in each and every house that makes the relationship unique. So when you find a project has lost the magic you wonder what went wrong?

I was encouraged to read the comment by Francis Terry that just seems to answer that question “at other times a client will not listen and I end up designing something which I know, could be better, but the happiness of the client is the goal of every project.” We ultimately compromise and in the process, loose the magic!

Now, I understand that we cannot be all things to all people and every designer has a unique style that becomes recognizable within the community. I have designed over 1,000 homes in my career and it is very heartwarming when someone says that they are interested in working with the firm because they “just love my work.”

It starts a conversation about the magic and leads us to the question:
How do we ensure that we are the right firm for that prospective client?

At our last meeting, I decided to pose this question to my team. We analyzed the projects that we have enjoyed in recent years and began to see a pattern, which lead to a great suggestion:… if the project excites everyone in the office, then we will move to the second stage in the process, interviewing the client with a specific list of questions to ensure that we have a similar vision. Laying the foundation for the magic!

If not, we are happy to refer families to another firm. We are not, by any means, being arrogant, but, we feel we have a professional responsibility to ensure that we are the right firm for the right client.

We developed a questionnaire that starts a conversation taking a look at all the design elements and throughout that discussion we are able to identify some of the characteristics for our ideal client.

They are: open to suggestions, excited about the design process, interested in collaboration, respectful of our expertise and honest about not only their budget but how they see themselves living in the house!
The foundation of trust, honesty and collaboration.

This simple process gives us the opportunity to interview families and begin to establish that special connection.

Our objective remains the same: the happiness of the client is still our primary goal, and now when I think about who is our ideal client….
When we are able to find the magic!

“Designing houses is not only what I do for a living, but it is what I love to do.”

Williams Residential Design. A boutique firm with 47 years of experience.
“Designing houses is not only what I do for a living…it is what I love to do”

Visit John @williamsresidentialdesign.ca

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