Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Spring Cleaning: adapt and change to the changing market

The UK construction industry continues to suffer the effects of the economic downturn. Architectural practices are often the first to feel the effect, and the last to recover.

Faced with the unfortunate reality of diminishing workloads and fee cutting, practices need to adapt to the changing market.

Last week we held our first Small Practice CPD Day. This invited individuals to reflect on their own businesses, identify possible changes and how to approach these changes positively.

Kevin Schofield from IEI Consulting started the day by discussing the importance of adaption and change in the current climate.

Natalie Saunders from Pharos Legal, then discussed Management for results: getting the most out of your staff (whilst keeping out of the tribunal). Perhaps the most important piece of advice she gave, with regards to motivating and keeping hold of staff in the current climate, is to be as transparent as possible. Keeping junior staff informed and explaining the difficulties that a practice is going through, and how individuals can help in the bigger picture will help towards maintaining morale.

Initially, a number of the sole practitioners were not sure that this session would be relevant to them. However, Natalie made it relevant to them by showing them how to manage themselves for results.

Lucy Mori from KL Mori Business Consulting for Architects  discussed How to kick-start your practice and win new work. This was an interactive workshop discussing how to analyse existing practice. During the 2 hour session, Lucy worked through a business plan template with attendees, advising how to think like an entrepreneur and take control of your business. I have never heard a room of architects so quiet!

Amanda Reekie and Alice Fawke from Stratton and Reekie gave us an essential tool-kit to PR and marketing. They described the different methods of marketing available and identified that the most important aspect of any marketing campaign is the identification of your audience, and what makes you different from everyone else. A mid afternoon workshop session on branding explained the importance of understanding other people’s perception of your business, in order to influence it.

Robert Evans from Evans Vettori Architects finished the day with a pictorial representation of the A to Z of setting up practice in the recession, using his experience of setting up practice in the mid 1990s recession. This was a perfect end to the day as Robert described the ups and downs of running a practice through difficult times, and shared lessons he had learnt through his own experience. 

Feedback from attendees was fantastic:

Deborah Carr, Bridger Carr: Thanks for the small business day yesterday – I found it really valuable advice.  I am now ready to take over the world!
James Mate, Doma Architects: Thanks for a fantastic day. Feel thoroughly inspired!
Stuart Fullerton, Wildblood Macdonald Chartered Architects: It was a really good event yesterday, I thoroughly enjoyed the day and found it very useful. It certainly got the brain going, so much so that I woke up at 4am this morning trying to work out a business plan!! (Sorry Stuart!)

1 comment:

  1. I just came across this write-up of the CPD day in May. It's great to have such positive feedback - expecially Stuart's. I thought that Ruth had put together a very informative and balanced day for the Yorkshire RIBA region. It obviously helps that she is also an architect running her own practice - she knows what information is valuable.