How to run your own successful, six-figure architecture business

Income can increase when you start your own practice, but you have to do it the right way. As a multi award-winning company, Superdraft can help you succeed.
How to Run your own Successful, Six-Figure Architecture Business

There are lots of opportunities for an architect to earn more money. You can work for a well-established firm, serve as a construction manager, be a development consultant, alternatively, you can have flexibility and freedom and run your own design practice and grow it into a successful company. If you dream of running your  own successful architecture business, our Director Mark Deacon has some advice for you:

Don’t treat your design business like a charity

Sometimes, small architecture firms and building design companies do not charge enough for their valuable services. They become too generous because they don’t want to scare clients away. They give a lot of services for free. Unfortunately, this charity work harms the business.

To avoid this, Deacon suggests that firms always educate their clients.

“Make it clear to the client what your service inclusions and exclusions are, and let them know when you’ll charge for extra costs,” Deacon said.

For instance, if a client has hired you to design and draft their new kitchen renovation and after a few design meetings and revisions, the client now requests for some minor renovations of their living area, this is classed as a variation and you should charge the client accordingly.

Many small design firms get caught into the trap of doing variations free of charge with the intentions of ‘helping look after their client’.

“What designers need to remember is that by overservicing and trying to look after one client, they are neglecting their other clients, as it leads to them falling behind on deadlines and forces them to rush their designs. This results in their good intentions backfiring, causing further financial and physical stresses,” says Deacon.

So, what should you do?

Charge a variation fee when the client’s requests go outside the original scope of the project. Explain the situation to them in a polite way, then talk about charging extra fees.

If the request is small, you may want to provide the additional work free of charge, however, ensure you highlight to the client (in writing) that their request is outside of the original scope of works and you are happy to do the additional scope free of charge this time, however any future variations will be charged at your hourly rate.

By doing the above, the client will be happy, as you are gifting them free services, however protecting yourself for future variations. If the client comes back in the future requesting more changes they won’t get a surprise when you charge them.

Another thing you can implement within your design practice is charging the client for design consultations and site visits.

“It’s okay. You should put a value on your design consultations and site visits because you will be sharing your valuable intellectual property and expertise,” Deacon said.

“Lawyers charge for phone calls, why can't Architects charge for design consultations?”

Limit the rounds of design changes

It takes multiple rounds of changes before the design becomes perfect. But, it’s not economical to go back and forth many times.

To avoid this situation, put a cap on the rounds of design changes a client can make. Begin charging extra fees when the client exceeds the limit.

“Explain it to them at the beginning of the project and remind them when necessary. Clear communication will prevent disputes with the client later on,” Deacon said.

One way to reduce the number of rounds of changes is by doing a sketch design for the client during your initial design meeting. Do a quick mud map exercise with them, explain your design, and ask for their feedback. This will enable the client to confirm the rough layout before you go away and spend hours drafting it up.

'Don't go away and waste time drafting up their design in CAD, only for the client to request that you change it completely, as you have interpreted their design brief incorrectly,' he said.

When you draw a sketch design with the client, they know what to expect. You also receive instant feedback, hear their comments early, minimizing the design changes later on.

Always provide clients with quality service

“Put your best foot forward in all projects,” says Deacon.

“Always provide clients with great service and experience, and they will refer you to other people. It’s free marketing that gives you more projects,” he added.

To do this, ensure you over-communicate with clients. Clients always value good communication and if you keep the client up to date on how their project is progressing, they tend to be much easier to deal with and sign off on the design much sooner.

“If a client has contacted you to follow up on the status of their project, it means that you have waited too long. You must proactively update your clients before they chase you,” says Deacon.

When it comes to providing your client with design ideas, always remember that you are designing a home or building for them…not you. Therefore, make sure to listen to their wants, needs and requirements and provide advice accordingly.

Architects often have a negative reputation for being ‘arrogant’ and pushing their own ideas, rather than listening to their clients. Therefore, to build a good reputation and have a point of difference, simply ask more questions and listen.

Take care of yourself

Running your own architecture practice is a mix of excitement and anxiety.

'There are times when you’ll feel pulled in different directions. Some situations are calm, while other instances may ask a lot from you,' Deacon said.

Many architects have the tendency to obsess about their work and can often find themselves fixed to their computer screen or drawing board for over 12 hours straight or doing all-nighters to meet a deadline.

To succeed in all aspects of your life long term you need to take care of yourself. Do things that make you physically and mentally up to the challenge. Exercise for at least one hour, three to four times a week. Meditate every day. Daily meditation helps release tension and stress.

Having a healthy mind and body is vital in running your own firm. Make sure you have it.

Network with the right people

Successful business leaders network and reach out to a lot of people. Your networks open doors to many opportunities. They give you leads, free advice, support, and collaboration.

But, you must not exploit your networks too much. Mark insists that you must continue to build and support it.

“Contact builders, developers, contractors… Send them a cold email or a phone call, asking whether they want to build one of your designs,” Deacon said.

“Of course, offer them a partnership later. Discuss the idea of working on more projects together in the future,” he added.

The thing is, when you give opportunities to earn more money, building companies will come to you. Only partner with smart, decent, and honest people. Give before you take, they might do the same for you. They might refer you to other clients in the future.

Market your business

While getting referrals and repeat clients are great, you must not rely on them. You must know how to reach more people and get new clients.

To ensure a consistent flow of work, invest in modern marketing strategies that work. Some firms believe that search engine optimisation and topping search results are key. Others believe that well-crafted advertisements work best. When done right, both strategies can hook you a lot of projects.

Modern marketing techniques require the business’ to ‘give’ before ‘taking’. Creating useful e-books or blogs that talk about topics that are useful and relevant to your target market is a great way to capture interest. It is imperative that you have a ‘call to action’ at the end of your article. This can invite them to a free design consultation or a free quote.

How Superdraft Can Help

Are you an experienced and qualified designer and want to recieve more projects and work on a variety of exciting projects? If so, apply as a Superdraft Partner Designer.

When you partner with Superdraft, you will receive more than a constant flow of projects. You will also learn how to provide your clients with exceptional service and turbo-charge your architecture or building design practice. Together, we can grow it into a six-figure business!

The benefits of being a Superdraft Partner

There are several reasons why you should grab this opportunity before it closes:

  1. We provide you with a constant flow of local projects. Getting extra projects effortlessly will increase your revenue and provide your business security.
  2. Our team will assist you with marketing, quoting, sales, organising consultants, and getting client payments — so you don’t have to.
  3. With more time on your hands, you can take on more projects. More projects completed means additional income.
  4. We give our partners world-class training and support. You can use the knowledge and skills you will learn here to keep your business running efficiently.
  5. You will have exclusive access to our innovative Project Management Platform. You will be able to view projects, quotes, payments, markups, documentation, project timelines and project invitations all in the one place.

Before you decide to grab this opportunity, understand that this is only for people who are passionate about architecture, value providing their clients' exceptional service, and are serious about growing their design business for long-term success.

Also, only limited availability. Apply now so you don’t miss out on this amazing business opportunity

Do not miss this rare opportunity to be a part of an innovative, thriving, and fast-growing company in Australia.

Apply here

Start planning for free

Find more articles, guides and inspiration in the planning dashboard. Save them to your dream board, and start planning your dream space today.

You may also like

Join our design community

Forgot your username or password?

Download our '5 crucial things you must know before starting any build project' guide for free today

Simply fill in your details below and we’ll send a copy straight over to you

See how much you could save with a free, no-obligation quote today

Simply fill in your details below and we’ll be in touch to discuss your project

  • Drop files here or

Download The Free Guide Now

Fill in the below to get instant access: