The perfect customer, the perfect project!
Although the perfect customer, and the perfect project do exist, it is not possible to find them just by luck. Just hoping for it will not work because hope is not a strategy. A professional needs to work hard in order to create their own opportunities for successful projects. This means that even before a project starts, the professional needs to put a lot of effort in managing their potential and existing customer accounts.
The Story of a Revelation
During the past months, I had the opportunity to mentor a couple of architects. This for me was a revelation. I took up the responsibility of analyzing their business model, identifying issues and optimization points in it and assisting the professionals in monetizing the improvements. I thought it would be a creative though simple process but I did not expect that it would prove to be so valuable and revealing as it proved to be in the end.
We started the discussion and I found it necessary to dig into their customer service and account management processes. We discussed what “the ideal customer” is, what “the ideal project” is and as in many cases, these open-ended questions revealed an important issue these professionals faced, an issue that made it difficult for them to enjoy their passion and make money out of their work.
For them, as far as their daily projects are concerned, it was exactly like Going to WARk™.
WARk™ = WAR @ Work. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of WARk™, you can read everything about it here.
Discovery no 1 – A session Apocalypse
These two really kind, and sweet professionals could not stop discussing how their projects were messed up by their clients, how the involvement of these clients ended up spoiling their own projects.Their perfect customer was the one not involved in the project. Their perfect project involved only architectural work and the least possible amount of customer interaction. But this did not make sense.
I was discussing with two talented professionals, passionate about their work which is all about elevating the standards of human living in buildings, thus it is a job with real care for humans and their well being. How was it that these professionals wanted the least possible contact with the humans the lives of which they were paid to improve?
And then, the apocalypse!
Discovery no 2 – A new “Side of Things”
I let them talk and used a lot of prompting in order to have them reveal their true issues. But what surprised me as they both described their situation, each from their personal point of view, was that they never included managing the customer as part of their actual job.
In fact, they defined their work as studying, designing and constructing a perfectly suited building for every situation. They seemed to think that their work started with the initial plan for the home and ended with its construction. And that was it!
And then came the following revelation!
What it all comes down to…
My two beloved architects were Going to WARk™ each morning because
- They failed to qualify their (few) leads and they also failed to understand that these initial contacts were just the beneficiaries of the end product but not the decision makers and
- They were too afraid to have these people (contacts) sign a written offer acceptance letter committing them to the project.
So, they were open and vulnerable.
In one case, the architects had all their negotiations with the daughter of the decision maker. The father would pay for a new home for his daughter. He let her choose the professionals and then suddenly appeared to negotiate on both the design and the cost, and thus messed up everything for the architects.
In another case, the wealthy customer was not willing to follow the commitments in the initial offer the architects drafted. The customer never signed the offer but did make a substantial downpayment, thus ethically forcing the architects to commit into a never ending project that would be characterized by serious delays and a big number of changes in the initial designs.
Of course all of these came at a cost! Projects exceeded budgets and revenues did not cover the costs. But most of all, projects did not offer any gratification.
The Paradox of WARk™
You see, WARk™ (= WAR @ Work) has always been a part or work environments but it has always been difficult to comprehend it. And that is the paradox of WARk™; it is evident and invisible at the same time.