It's not a date, it's a relationship....wait...what?

There is often a gnawing familiarity each time we see an attractive opportunity approach.  It's magnetic. The siren call of a new project can be hypnotic.  Right about  now you should be getting that familiar feeling of butterflies in your tummy.  Once the opportunity has been identified and acknowledged a clear plan of action is needed.  As they say, you will know it when it's right and the time to make your move.  Here's my take on this process:

Dating

     Marketing

     Business Development

The Romance

     RFQ / RFP Response

     Follow-up Calls

     The Pitch

The Wedding

     The Award

     The Promises

     Contract Signing

The Reception

     The Design Presentation

     Production

     Bidding and Construction

The Honeymoon

     Occupancy

     Appreciation Event

The Long Kiss Goodbye

     Post Occupancy Evaluation

     Warranty Inspection

     Performance Survey

This tongue in cheek analogy, beyond it's humorous nature, shows a way of thinking about new prospects and taking the long road to relationship success.  By hook and crook we all will have those new opportunities to pursue.  Whether or not you get to the alter is up to your talent and experience as well as your selling and presentation skills.  Now once the dancing has stopped and the party is over, maintaining your relationship with your new client is up to your skills at listening, staying connected, and expressing a genuine concern for the long term success of the project and the client's satisfaction with your work.  Sound familiar?

"Developing a structured approach with each client in former, current and prospective categories can build your practice on a solid foundation of long term relationships and repeat work."

Now go back up and look at my analogy.  Do not skip the Honeymoon - it's important.  If the relationship falters after the honeymoon there can be feelings of abandonment (you didn't call, or write, or send flowers).  In the worst cases there can be genuine buyers remorse and resentment.  You don't want that.  The counter-action is to continue the courtship with targeted outbound marketing and selective business development contact that keep the relationship alive.  Further, it is not uncommon, after a large corporate expansion or relocation project, that the client contact (project manager) can be lured away by another company to do something similar.  With a little luck and persistence a firm could end up with two clients where there had been one.  Pretty nice wedding gift.

Developing a structured approach with each client in former, current and prospective categories can build your practice on a solid foundation of long term relationships and repeat work.  You won't find yourself losing projects to interlopers, or competing for work with a client that you had previously won.  This is exactly the type of program I help my clients build and execute and there are dozens of ideas.  If you would like a further discussion, give me a call, I'd enjoy hearing your thoughts.  I'll buy the coffee.

William M. Burwell is a retired Architect and Interior Designer whose career focused on corporate interior architecture in sole proprietorships, and partnerships from 9 to 120 staff.  Bill retired in 2014 and began Burwell Consulting a Firm Marketing and Management Consulting firm, to share the wisdom and experience of those 45 years   Bill writes articles sharing his experience in four keystone practice areas:  Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Design, and Practice Management.  He graduated from the University of Houston College of Architecture in 1971 and now serves the College on the Dean's Committee on Excellence. Check him out at www.burwell-consulting.com