Guidance for AEC Industry Technical Professionals
In today’s AEC market, we must be strategic with our marketing time and efforts. Seller/doers are busier than ever. Although balancing billable time and the pressures of feeding the pipeline can be challenging, finding, growing, and retaining the best clients may be easier than you think. Get more work from your BEST existing clients.
Are your client relations efforts strategically focused?
Often an AEC professional’s marketing time is spent on new business development efforts. However, the easiest way to win work is to look at the greatest asset the firm has—its existing clients. It is well known that it can cost 5 to 10 times more to acquire a new client than it does to retain an existing client. How are your client relationships? Do you know which clients are good, better, or best? Most likely, you don’t. Very few firms have a strategy in place to help retain and grow their existing client relationships.
Eight Ways to Get the Most from Existing AEC Client Relationships
- Understand the Power of Revenue: Have you been told that you need to increase revenue because of strategic firm initiatives? How can you do that with the resources you have available? You can achieve this without the expense and uncertainty of chasing new clients by increasing the revenue of your existing client contracts.
- 80/20 Rule: This rule is crucial to AEC marketing efforts. The 80/20 rule means that 80% of your revenue and profits typically comes from 20% of your clients. Reviewing your client list and categorizing them by revenue will help you start to understand the impact of your best clients. Cultivate those relationships and shed the rest.
- The ABCs of Client Relations: As you review your 80/20 list, categorize them by A, B, C. Determine as a firm, or at least individually, what makes a client a good, better, best, or worst client. It could be accessibility, personality, responsiveness, etc. Give your A clients an extra level of attention. Learn more about them and get to know them personally. During the age of “virtual,” try to see or meet with them in person. Lastly, create a pro-active, purposeful, documented plan to grow these relationships.
- Clientship: Give your best clients your best service. This intentional focus will decrease conflict and help you establish “client priority.” Client service is perceived as value and will in turn, increase revenue in a variety of ways. Let your office and/or team members know what is expected of them for superior client service. Establish with your team how client service is evaluated. Your best clients deserve your best service. This will pay off in higher revenue and less stress.
- Ask and Listen: Client surveys conducted in regular intervals have been shown to increase client satisfaction. Surveys are an important tool for understanding if there are problems with projects, relationships, or client service. When you get a good response, be sure to ask if you can craft a testimonial for approval. Client referrals are important to future marketing efforts.
- What Have You Done for Me Lately? Do your clients know the full menu of services you can provide them? Educate your clients about all your firm’s capabilities. It may surprise you that your clients are only aware of what you last did for them. Giving them a better understanding of the expertise, skills and services you offer may be the catalyst for opportunities for larger scope on projects.
- Track It: You may think you can keep all your newfound client knowledge in your head. Collecting all of the data you need to improve your relationship with each A list client can be overwhelming. Technology gives us a way to store and organize all of this data, track appointments, assist with follow-up, and not let important details slip through the cracks. An industry-specific Client Relationship Management (CRM) system gives you an advantage in organizing the important information gathered.
- So What? As you are providing great service and growing your relationship you may think that it’s obvious how you are providing value-added service for your clients. However, it is necessary to define these activities that give your firm a competitive advantage and provide value. Ask yourself the “So what?” question every time you think of a benefit you have provided a client. How have you…
- Saved the client time and money?
- Helped your client avoid or mitigate potentials project risks?
- Made your client’s life easier during the project?
- Provided innovative, creative, and differentiating solutions for the project? What have you provided on this project that no other firm could have provided?
- Saved the client time and money?
Your best clients deserve your best service, and this will pay off in higher revenues and less stress of constantly having to feed the pipeline. Don’t settle for good or better. Demand the BEST clients possible.