Delivering Value – an interactive discussion with private sector clients

 

On Wednesday April 3rd, AEC firm leaders and marketing professionals convened at Haworth’s Manhattan showroom for Part II of the Executive Roundtable Series. As a follow up to Part I, a brainstorming session about providing value and increasing profitability, Part II consisted of an interactive client discussion focused on client experiences working with consultants and the key to developing long term relationships: delivering value.

Facilitated by Brent Robertson of Fathom, he engaged a range of client perspectives from Sreoshy Banerja of the NYC EDC, Jo Goldberger, AIA of The New School and John Puglisi, PE of Fordham University. Each panelist shared lessons learned from working with consultants and identified various concerns and challenges faced throughout the design and construction process.

“An AEC firm’s ability to do its best work and prosper as a result starts with its ability to articulate its value proposition. But often, a firm’s value proposition is heavily biased toward what the firm sees as most valuable, less what clients really care about. In this unique event, the “clients” our esteemed panelists, made it clear that they want to work with those they like, trust, and are inspired by.

The common thread throughout the conversation was value: understanding what is valuable to each client, how your services align and figuring out how to show that alignment – visually in a proposal to interpersonally in an interview. For AEC consultants, the panelists all shared, through experiences, that proven value is demonstrated in the quality of work, decision making process, and diplomacy and flexibility of the project team. For example, on institutional campuses, the true goal of a project is to make a better place for the future. “Quality work” is expressed in the durability (and in some cases adaptability) of the space as well as how users engage with it – what is the light like, how are people interacting? Additionally, consultants should be able to build a contingency for flexibility. For government agencies, it is common for project scopes to fluctuate as funding sources and decision makers can change, so it is valuable to work with clients that can adapt to these changes and evolve with a project.

Additionally, the panelists discussed the impact of firm culture on process and shared common attributes of successful partners. These attributes included:

  • Flexibility: ability to adapt to scope changes and work with a client
  • Equality and empowerment of team: showing the team as a collaborative effort, bringing diversity to the table
  • Deep knowledge of client needs and mission: Do your homework! Be aware of your client and what is valuable to them. Know your audience and cater your approach to them.
  • Gratitude and excitement for the task at hand: showing gratitude and respect for the client and people around you – we all have to work together.

Following the panel, attendees had the opportunity to engage the panelists to tackle the issues raised. The ongoing discussion centered on finding what our true value is to clients and how we can deliver that value more efficiently to increase profitability and elevate the perception of the industry as a whole.

Feedback from the attendees was overwhelmingly positive with tangible takeaways ready for immediate implementation including:

  • Clearly communicating understanding of a project by identifying challenges and possible solutions
  • Creating visual narratives to show value and thought process

 

Check out photos from the event here!