Your practice might target a particular type of client, for example, housing associations or private householders, or might be prepared to accept commissions from a wide variety of different individuals and organisations. It's important to make sure that the marketing of your practice, the way in which you present your design proposals and the formality with which you conduct negotiations is appropriate to each type of client. For example, a major commercial client might want to see 3D models of the project before going ahead, while a private householder wanting a proposal for an extension may require no more than drawings or computer-generated images.
No matter who your clients are it is very important that, once they appoint you, the terms and conditions on which your services are engaged are clearly set out in a formal document and agreed with the client. Professional bodies such as the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS), the Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA) and the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT) produce standard documents which can be amended as necessary. The document should cover the services to be provided, the responsibilities of both parties, the appointment of any additional specialists and the fees payable. Details of when the fees are payable should also be covered.
Advertising your business
No matter who your clients will be it is essential that they know about you and the services you provide. If you are a member of a professional body such as RIBA, RIAS, RSUA or CIAT your practice will be included in an online Directory of Practices. You will also be able to put up a sign board at any site you are working on.
There are a number of other things you can do to promote your practice:
- advertise on Yell.com, in your local newspaper and any other local publications and directories
- set up your own website showing some of the commissions you have handled
- have leaflets printed outlining your services and distribute these to local builders, housing associations, colleges and so on
- enter competitions for building projects (these can be a useful way of raising the profile of the practice - particularly if your practice wins)
- join the online network LinkedIn so you can keep in touch with other professionals
- use social media like Facebook and Instagram to share details of current and completed projects