Shifting to an advisory mindset to drive client value

architects with clients

To remain competitive, architects must consider how they can move from a design approach to an advisory mindset by taking advantage of training programs and tools. AIA partner Engineered Tax Services explains.

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench into the strategic planning process for most businesses. After all, it can be difficult to develop growth plans amid a sea of uncertainty. Planning for 2021 and beyond will require you to sharply focus on how your architecture firm can grow by becoming more attuned to your clients’ needs. One way is to move beyond the technical side of architecture and look at your clients and prospects in a different light. You already collaborate with your clients on design plans, but are you looking at what their entire business needs?

The architecture profession is evolving quickly to an advisory mindset to drive greater value for clients. Most architects realize they must shift from a design approach to an advisory mindset to better serve existing clients and attract prospects, but they may not have the training and processes in place to make the transition. As you plan for the year ahead, what is your growth strategy? How can you stand out from competitors in your marketplace? Do you and your partners have the required skills to become business advisors to your clients?

Gaining a competitive advantage

Business owners are seeking collaborative partners who can help them troubleshoot business challenges in ways that extend beyond technical design solutions. They want partners who ask insightful questions, focus on their long-term business goals, and serve as genuine advocates of their business. How can you reposition your approach to better align with their needs? To be a good advisor, you must understand your clients’ growth objectives. Do you know the challenges that keep them from attaining their objectives? Some architects instinctively know to ask solution-based questions, but for most, training is essential.

One example is having the knowledge and ability to recognize when there may be opportunities for your clients to financially benefit from certain tax benefits. Value-add services like tax credits and deductions that your client can claim for an energy-efficient building can be a significant benefit, and they build rapport and loyalty. One architect explained the 45L tax credit ($2,000-per-unit tax credit) to a multifamily developer, who then claimed $562,000 in credits based on the existing design specs. The client and their CPA were unaware of this incentive.

Thinking outside the box and bringing added value is an example of having an advisory mindset.

Training: Transforming to an advisory mindset

The good news is that there are practical tools you can learn to approach your clients differently. For example, The Growth Partnership (TGP) works with architects to improve their interactive skills through the introduction of a successful questioning technique. The goal is to change the way you interact with clients to understand your clients’ long-term goals, obstacles that may be getting in the way, and the role you can play in helping them become successful. TGP also partners with AIA to deliver the AIA Leadership Academy, a premier three-year program that helps architects work on critical leadership and business skills that further develop the advisory approach.

Architects face an ever-increasing competitive environment. If you suspect that a skills gap may be holding you back, make 2021 the year you work to close that gap. When you become a collaborative partner that has your clients’ long-term interests at heart, you will realize your efforts for sustainable, profitable growth and earn a reputation as a trusted business advisor.

For the past 20 years, Engineered Tax Services has provided full-service specialty tax services and tax planning to help architects, engineers, and contractors capture significant federal incentives for their clients. As clients’ needs have evolved, we’ve built our consulting services to help architecture firms seek ways to drive more value into their client relationships.

To learn more about advisory training services from The Growth Partnership, an Engineered Tax Services Company, please contact Heidi Henderson of Engineered Tax Services at 801-564-4464 or hhenderson@engineeredtaxservices.com.

Image credits

architects with clients

iStock.com/jacoblund

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