How to get a competitive edge for your architecture practice (part 2)

By January 17, 2018September 19th, 2018Architecture Practices, Business Planning & Strategy


Winning work is tough for any professional practice, none more so than for architects. For that reason it’s important to stack the deck in your favour wherever possible by giving yourself a competitive edge! In this series we look at three things that will help to give your practice that edge, and here is number two – the ability to manage large projects.

When starting out, most architects gather a range of small jobs around them; the all too familiar “alts and adds” of the residential housing world. Small projects are fine, particularly when you’re establishing a business. But for an architecture company to grow, it needs an ongoing supply of large projects.

It’s these projects, typically from the institutional and governmental sectors, which have the most potential for economies of scale. They also have greater promotional clout when they are finished, helping you win more work. So your ability to take on large projects and manage them effectively is crucial. Clients are looking for architects who can be entrusted with bringing projects of scale on time and on budget.

But what if you’re a small player looking to play in this big world? Here are a few tips:

  • Partnerships are key. Most architectural companies of scale will offer a full suite of services, including project management, interior design and so on. Often it can be tricky for smaller companies to compete for large jobs when they don’t have the staff and resources to offer an end to end service. So being able to partner with other specialist companies to provide a full service offering is important.
  • Maintain a good pool of freelancers. Smaller architectural firms can’t afford to have lots of people on staff. So having a team of freelancers who you can quickly deploy on jobs when demand dictates is important to having the scale you need to take on the bigger jobs.
  • Having good skills across multiple project stages. It’s no use being brilliant at the design but slow when it comes to getting the documentation together. Or stumped when it comes to negotiating changes with the client. Or fussy when it comes to changes dictated by the build. When selecting your team, choose staff who you think are strong across the range of project stages you’ll need. A small, well chosen team – supplemented by freelancers – can cover all the skills you need
  • Effective cash flow procedures. This can be a real struggle for smaller firms. Set your progress payments carefully, track your time effectively and watch for overruns.

This article is an extract from our new eBook packed full of profitability tips for architecture practices – you can grab your copy here:

Here at Generate we work with a huge range of creative businesses – including architecture practices – each year, helping them with everything from managing their accounts, tax advice, business coaching, strategic planning … you name it, we’ve probably done it! If you’d like to have a chat about your business, why not drop us a line? We’d love to help.