Alicia Koledin, Assoc. AIA
Building relationships is one of the hallmarks of the SMPS organization, and last week’s client panel program was an exercise in learning how to do just that–with Owner’s Representatives. Featuring Julie Geden of Zubatkin Owner Representation, LLC; Robert Gorton, of Colliers International Project Management; Kenneth Levien of Levien & Company, Inc., and Dana Panzarino of VVA Project Managers and Consultants, the program offered staff from architecture, engineering, construction, and other consulting firms in the NYC region a unique perspective of the relationship–from the opposite side.
Though the design community often views the relationship as adversarial, in fact, it can be symbiotic with all parties. Moderated by Jane Felsen Gertler, an SMPS Fellow and Director of Marketing for Howard L. Zimmerman Architects, the panel emphasized that the owner’s rep is essentially a project manager contracted to the owner in an advisory capacity, not a competitor. Rather than directing, they recommend the best course of action, in the best interest of the project. They are able to provide the best value at the inception of the project, and their goal is to find solutions that are beneficial to all.
“I thoroughly enjoyed attending the SMPS Owner’ Reps panel that took place last week,” said SMPS Member and attendee Davida Garcia, Marketing Proposal Manager at The LiRo Group. “I now understand the true role of an Owner’s Representative–from dealings with the community, to financial institutions, and even to the operation of the building post-occupancy; they truly are an integral part of the process that contributes to the entire team ensuring one common goal is met: a happy client.”
The panelists also offered insight into how to best work with them, and answered the marketer’s ultimate question–how to win work with them and their clients. Nearly all said they entertain meet-and-greets to get to know AEC consultants, and in the preparation of RFP responses, they look primarily for an understanding of the process and an experienced team. They appreciate clear writing and those that follow directions, and all stressed that consultants should not propose services additional to those being requested, implying that there should be a mutual respect and that trust goes both ways.
The Owner’s Rep panel in many ways proved to be a comprehensive sampling of what SMPS is all about–giving marketers the tools they need in order to help succeed, including those that help them build bridges with others in the AEC community.
to see photos from the event.