Recently, our team was enlightened by a well-known developer in West Michigan, Jim Reminga, about the true meaning of a client-serving business. Sure, we all want to blow every other competitor’s business out of the water when it comes to presentation, but where does the real glory come from?
Here’s Jim’s view:
“Design+ [Jim’s first architecture firm in MI] decided to take a unique approach to the very first interview we had with a prospective client. We prepared a conceptual analysis of the project, assumed a program and created a few conceptual solutions. We told them we were going to skip the traditional interview and demonstrate what our first meeting with them would be like if they hired us. We came in 2nd for that project (because our firm was only about 10 minutes old), but we used that technique many times and lost very few projects. We did millions in fee with the Prince Corporation over the years. My favorite compliment came from their president when he said, “When I’m laying awake at 2 AM worrying about my business I know you’re laying awake worrying about us too.”
Great design is what you do and sometimes you’ll be lucky to have someone who only wants to buy great design. Most clients, however, seek out a consultant because they have a very serious business need (opportunity or problem) and they want you to help them. You may win awards from your peers for great design, but you will build repeat client relationships (the best kind) by getting in their shoes, laying awake thinking about their problems and making them successful. We preached to our employees that our #1 goal was making our clients successful. Profit was never a goal; it was the reward we got for solving client problems.”
Jim currently owns Crossroads Ventures, a real estate development firm in Grand Rapids, MI. You can contact him through his business website: www.crossroads-ventures.com/