LIVE with Rion Willard - Squashed Fees & Bottlenecks while Practising Architecture
By Stephen Drew
May 9, 2022
0:00 / 01:05:24
Stephen Drew00:02

London UK I'm back. We're back and away for that long. My battles. Ready? This guy will

be the sandwiches. Come on, get that coffee. What can I get from LinkedIn? Live 15 seconds.

Here we go. Seven and 6, 5 0 3, 2. Hello after while hello and the weed on wild, wonderful world of architecture online. I am Stephen Drew from the Oxfordshire social. I am back in the fold. I am back. I know I've been away. I've been a little bit busy, but I will never going to stay away for too long. And just while I'm starting the adventure, I'm here with a real podcast house, but this time it's going to be sitting in the driver's seat and there's going to be two parts to this episode.

There's going to be the one where I get critiqued on my podcast set up and I haven't shown on any of this. And then we're going to go deep in meaningful. Into bottlenecks and lower fees and the fees squeeze exactly. Fee squeeze in that brilliant thing with the fantastic Rian. Well, Ray, thank you very

Rion Willard01:42

much.

sound effects.

Stephen Drew01:46

Okay. Well, that's a nice segue. So I downloaded a few sirens, so I've got my, the fake audience here, paradise. They make all noise theirs, and then I've got like electronic dance music from crazy stuff. So, so when you really want to knock it up, all right,

so I've got that, but right. Okay. I've got to keep this professional, but just before we do that, I've got a few other things as well. So. No. Wow. You know, it's more for the wider audience. So I w I wouldn't, I wouldn't want to let everyone down now, and I am a member of the Rebbe council, so I have to be keep these they're all my views.

They're all my views, rebar. They're all my views. And so, you know, we've got to start off with a bit of a David Brandt dance, you know, so I got that. I thought I'd get a few memes in there. And I have an architecture meme here as well. So I found if did anyone know that Frank Gary was actually on the same sentence?

And, uh, so I've got my means. I've got my dances. And that was what I fought. I get critiqued on as well as that I got backgrounds and stuff. So you can get a nice background. We can get a nice bit of colors. So I'm really, I've gone all out for you, Ryan, are you feeling though?

Rion Willard03:15

You feeling like a warm sense of nostalgia, as I was saying to you earlier, I feel, I feel like it's putting back to my childhood early Saturday mornings when I'd watch going live. And I aspired to be on that show. And

Stephen Drew03:30

this is that, well, we are, we are on LinkedIn. We are in the audience. Just a reminder for anyone watching, you can drop a comment at any point, and we can choose to bring it up on the big screen.

So if during this, you have a question for Ron or myself, you can ask us and we can potentially

Rion Willard03:50

radio Stephen

Stephen Drew03:51

now. No, not yet. Not yet. Maybe you think so? Think so. Fantastic. Well, you haven't heard my questions yet, so I've got to do that first. Okay. So the topic as we discussed in the emails, which I, which I loud squeezy, easy squeezy lemon peas.

The fees being squeezed and Architecture.

Rion Willard04:16

Yeah.

Stephen Drew04:17

Yeah. So we were at an interesting time. So just before we spoke and got ready to go live here, it's an interesting time because ARB has just been coming out, talking about maybe changing the education system as well as from changing the old school part one part.

Um, apart too. And that'd be nice if, uh, AOP changes. So I can be an architect. I wouldn't mind that, but maybe that will affect the businesses. Maybe that will, that's going to have a knock on effect and everything, and ARB I'm looking at as well, international architects. And, you know, if you're an international qualified architect, how you can actually, um, is make it easier to, you know, um, be an architect, registered architect in the UK, because you can do all these years overseas, but it's been quite arduous sometimes to get

Rion Willard05:09

that.

Um, but it's kind of, it is, it's kind of ridiculous that there isn't more fluidity internationally between Architecture. Qualifications and architecture isn't when we get really, you know, I am, I see this a lot in say the larger, big practices, like your Grimshaw is in your ass pages big. And these are big factors with massive amounts of international architects in the first place.

And their education is, you know, it's all of a high standard, particularly in Europe and you know, and well you Australia, the us, um, and for architects and they, they might remain in a, in a big practice for 10 years. And just because they're qualified elsewhere, they're not allowed to call themselves an architect.

And then you get to the situation where they're saying, you know, they call themselves architect, registered in the Netherlands or architect registered in Italy or whatever it is because they can't use the word. And it's just, it seems a bit pointless, really can predict with the kind of digital. Global world that we're, that we're living in and the ability to be able to work remotely now in the states is even worse because you know, you're not qualified state to state.

So once you leave New York, New York state, for example, you're no longer qualified in New Jersey

Stephen Drew06:22

man. Yeah. Well, I think, I think your thank you right now. I was talking about all the memes and stuff at the start. That was a poor introduction on my present that behalf. So Ray is doing the business of architecture podcast.

You actually run your own architecture practice, and I think that's important for everyone to understand. So this is your URL below, right? So, yeah. So we'll keep that up for a bit, cause there's better. That's a bit of context for our viewers. Yes. Because what's important. There is. While you do the podcast, you do run your own architectural practice.

Rion Willard06:59

I do I do, but to be honest with you, I don't do that much Architecture these days. Interesting. So Architecture is more like a nice paid hobby for me these days. I have a couple of projects on, but the business of architecture, um, has grown into a full blown, you know, it is a business consultancy. So, so ethnic stairs and myself, I don't know if you know, Nick in, in, in ESO, him and I, um, we, we kind of joined forces if you like.

And now the majority of my time is spent recently as a full-time business consultant. We've got clients all over the world from the U S from the UK, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand. Um, yeah, that is that's. That's what most of my time is spent doing these days, which is the main interest

Stephen Drew07:51

in.

Rion Willard07:54

Which is yeah.

Which is, which has been a result of the, of the podcasts. And then Nick and I kind of come in together, you know, we've in economic working, we've been collaborating since, I don't know, 20 14, 20, 15 something, something like that. Yeah. And then over the last 12 months, I've got more and more involved with the, yeah, there you go.

Stephen Drew08:14

Here we go. We'll have there. I forgot to say we can browse around on this former, isn't it? So

Rion Willard08:18

absolutely. If you go to the smart practice method that, okay. That's our main, uh, our program, essentially. Very cool that we launched for that we've launched for architects. So we've got about. We've got about 50 odd clients at the moment.

Stephen Drew08:34

Amazing. So that's interesting. So as well as practicing architecture and you do a bit less of it, you're you see you're involved with a lot of architectural practices as well. So especially when we're talking about bottlenecks and we're talking about the fees being squeezed, that's a bit of a tongue twister, but when we're talking about that, you see it on a lot of your clients as well.

So I think that's important for the viewers to mention, so you've got your own practice, but then you also see how people are affected and that's maybe there's freestyle on that a bit. So that means I've got, I forget, I forgotten almost how I get rid of this. There you go. Yeah, here we go. It's been a little while.

So tell us a bit about what's your thoughts at the moment? Because I do know as a fee squeeze and when I especially was in recruitment and when I saw companies in particular. You know, sometimes it was a case of having offices, which are not based in the UK as a way to outsource work and then get the fees lower.

I almost felt it was like a race to the bottom. If that makes sense. When you've got architectural practices compete and to lower the fees,

Rion Willard09:44

it's. It's bonkers. And I mean, a lot of it is there's, there's, there's lots of different reasons why it's happening. You know, when one part of it, particularly when we look at public and institutional work and even with commercial clients and developers, they'll be, you know, essentially they're often coming to the architects too late in the process anyway.

Right. So they've done a lot of their initial appraisals and works. And then they, they're basically looking for someone to fit a very constrained box of here's the service that we want and require. So we need you to do this, and they've kind of done that in order to, to squeeze the fees, you know, in, in public procurement, there's often a project manager or somebody whose sole job is to make sure that the architect fees are as low as possible.

Right. So developers do this as do this as well. Um, and it very much commoditizes what architectural services are. Um, and then Architecture. We are responsible for our own face squeeze. We are responsible for it. We have been creating it, the lack of business acumen and knowledge, or even the, the, the paradigm of framing architecture as a service, particularly in our education.

That conversation needs to be integrated more and more aware that actually it is, we are operating in a commercial and service-based industry and often want to be. Um, and if we're, if we're unable to kind of deal with that as a fact and celebrate. Yeah. Um, it leaves us vulnerable to not having, you know, for not learning about negotiations, to not learning about marketing, to not learning about, um, you know, how to, how to get premium fees, you know, not, not knowing how to, um, you know, put someone through, um, a sales process.

And what we ended up doing is we're mimicking, um, often what we've been, you know, the kind of culture that we've picked up at university, which is, you know, kind of work hard. Let me do more work. Let me show you what I can do. The portfolio culture, the crit culture. I mean, again, that has its place. I'm not, so that's not, you know, that these are bad things.

It's just that can't forget. As an architect, we do spend a, a prolonged period of, you know, uh, of gestation. If you like learning. How to become an architect and all the skills around it. Uh, and there's a certain culture around that, which, which negates the business context and the financial context and the economic context.

So when we go into, you know, setting up our own businesses, it's very rare that anybody's got any business skills or have learned about it. And then we're going straight into negotiating with typically highly sophisticated, financially literate clients who negotiate hard. And they know they have strategies to make sure that their suppliers give them cheap, cheap goods and architects are very vulnerable to it.

And then we find ourselves, you know, I mean, the thing I have from architects so often is just giving away free. Just G I mean, at all scales of practice, I've interviewed dark practices. They give away free work, small practices, they're giving away free work. Then we go into looking at, you know, lots of students who will be coming out of university and they're setting up their own little freelance businesses and they'll undercut, um, you know, other practices and it's like, okay, well then that has an impact as well, because if you're going to be undercutting, lots of larger practices, don't be surprised when you're getting a job and, and your salary is low.

Yeah. Well, it all starts to have, uh, this, this kind of impact if you like. Right. So get the free work. That's a real, I mean, th that just as an industry just has got to stop. You wouldn't, you wouldn't consider lawyers doing this kind of stuff. Like they give away down at work, but our architects will, are convinced.

You know, maps of the time that let me just while them, if this piece of work, you know, the site, a site plan comes in and us as architects way, we love design. We love architecture. We want to get creative. Our creative Brian brains and juices are just flowing. Let me, where are we designing the project? Let me get at it.

Let me just do this one little thing. And that kind of. Let me wowed them with the design. Then we'll win the project where, when the work and that's like from a marketing and sales perspective, it's like, no, that's, that's kind of not the principles behind it. Like being able to articulate and understand what the client's problem is first.

Professional selling. That's more like, uh, you know, down the, down the line of what professional sales is, and being able to articulate and understand, understand, and elicit the, you know, the emotions or the pains behind why a client is doing something and meeting them in the conversation that they're having in their own minds now.

So that's, yeah, that, that's how, you know, being skilled and bound to do that. That's where we start to be able to create value. And also architects are really reactive as an industry. We're reactive in terms of how we win work. So we wait for it to come out or we, where we kind of get very dependent, just purely on referrals.

And we don't necessarily have a system for setting up referrals or we're reluctant to be stirring the pot of existence, 16 clients. There's, there's not much proactive going after. This is the kind of clients we want to have. These are the people that we should be speaking to, and actually putting that into a discipline in a business where you're spending 25% of your time going after the work and the clients that you want to.

So, as I was saying, of course at the beginning, um, you know, developers and, you know, public institutions sometimes when, when they go to a public tender for work, they've already made loads of decisions about the project. They've already made loads of decisions about how it's going to operate. And then they've got a budget in mind, which has kind of just come from somewhere and really architects create way more value earlier on in the process.

So this is opportunity for us to start being creative and approaching, you know, approaching dialogues with, with clients much, much earlier on looking at different types of business models. Patsy, you know, there's, there are sorts of, uh, um, You know, kind of retain a fees that you can get on as an advisory or being a consultant first with these types of, um, with these sorts of projects where you're helping them develop, uh, long lasting vision, et cetera, et cetera, which then lays a much more powerful foundation to be able to negotiate value, right.

And not, not getting into this position of having fees, just being squeezed. The other, the other part of this as well is that if we're, we end up taking on projects where w where the fees are too low, and then we do that because we might at some level feel desperate, or we're kind of deluding ourselves of what the project actually is.

This is the other thing. So what take on a project and I see it a lot, uh, architects take on a project. It's a, it's a, it's a, it's a humble brief, let's say. But then as an, as an industry, we want to turn that brief into something extremely. And it's kind of, and now we're now in the process of over-delivering and we're turning a very humble brief.

It doesn't mean, you know, you can't do, you can't do good work, but now you've got three people working on this small project full time. Your fees have just been eaten away the client. Yeah. They're happy. Great. But it wasn't necessarily what they were asking for. And now the project has turned into the Google, Google home.

And I'm, over-exaggerating a little bit here. Yeah.

Stephen Drew17:42

Sorry. This is the place where you can, that you can do that. It resonates a lot with me on what you're saying on so many levels. And so from speaking from a purely recruitment point of view, um, when the fees are low, it has a knock on effect from everything.

So what I've seen is that when the fees are lower, um, that can, there's, there's less money to go around on the pot. And there's, as you say, a pro um, a project is. And we will, then it requires a lot of work. What naturally happens is that you don't have the financial resources for people to do on it. So what do you have to do you have to you then kind of in this position where you're asking your current staff to work overtime, and then what really happens there, Ryan is that maybe they can do that for a bet, but they start getting exhausted.

They start getting fatigued and then what's aware. I think the businesses forget what happens is, is that if that one or two of these members of staff, which have been overworked. Then you can kind of accrue a cost because you might have to pay a recruitment consultant or you have a down, um, you have a down, you don't have people available or you have to pull people from other projects.

So basically it's kind of like this downward spiral, the other bit that you mentioned, which I really do resonate on it and you're right. It's really hard. Isn't it? Um, cause you thinking of when you're trained as an architect, um, in terms of negotiation, in terms of sailing to talk about fees and this extremely, I swear I'm sympathetic.

It is extremely intimidating and speaking to a developer, when they say, wow, This practice I've just spoken to is going to do it for half a percent less a rayon. So what are you going to do about it? And that's where as an industry, the other bit of the problem is, and what I've learned in terms of my business is that there's two things recently, and I'll tell you one of my current things, right?

And this happens to me all the time. So this is current. Now that I've learned is that because I do try to give away a lot of information on the Architecture, Social. I do it because, um, but where I, what I've learned to do now is I try to get my free content in vehicles like this, which can be used by the masses.

And there's a gain from it. Okay. Because in this piece of recording, the point is people can access it and it can be used. However, what sometimes I get is, um, I get a message comes to. And, um, it will be a really nice person with no bad intentions, but there'll be saying, Steve, I've got this big problem at the moment.

They'd send me a big email and saying, can you give me half an hour? It's an hour of your time. And I have to be really upfront with them and say, I can, if you pay me and what I've learned at the moment. Usually that person will then never message me again, um, because they were looking for a free answer.

And I think that that almost sounds cruel, but I have to be really a still as a professional because the Architecture Social cost money, man, my time is I have to spend there on places which I have a maximum yield such as this or on things which I can bill to keep the Architecture Social going. And I think that when you're talking about giving away, free works is really tempted to do that as an, in an architectural practice, free feasibility study or pitching for a work.

And you spend a lot of time on that and nothing comes back and where that can hurt you as a business is that then from that, you're not taking over so much profit. You can't give your staff pay raises you can't spend the time and energy on free stuff that you want to do. And you kind of put yourself into a box, but what my point romantic and this kind of.

Tangent is that you have to be okay saying no. And I do think that what I've learned is that actually by sticking with your fees. So especially in recruitment, I'd have some companies ask for a lower fee and there's a big power in saying no. And that, and, and once that client tests you on it, and you say, well, my fee is because of X, Y Zed.

It's because of my background. You get me, it's my experience. It's when I want to do it the right way. You go through that with them? Usually I think they come around because you're the first person that said no to them. Whereas a lot of companies bend over backwards. And actually my, um, my impression is that when you speak to directors, even though it's scary, whereas the development director and Arctic director, um, they will respect you if you, if you challenge or make them think on a point where your intentions are.

Um, for instance, there are good intentions. And what I mean by this in an architectural context is because you want the design to be good, or you can just see the problems coming down the road. It's actually okay. To navigate those tricky points with the client at the start, but it's far too tempted to say, no, isn't it?

I say, it's the project tempting to say, yeah, I will do that. And no, it's no problem. And then what happens is for the next year, you're in a stressful situation.

Rion Willard22:48

Yeah, no, exactly. And you know, every time you say yes to a pro to a project, a lower fees, you saying no to a thousand other things that you could have been doing that would have been a better fit.

And really the sales conversation is all about you qualifying the clients to make sure that they're the right fit for you. And, you know, w when we train our clients in, in, in sales, one of the, one of the first sort of parts of the conversation, well, first of all, we move away from using proposals, right?

Because proposals and proposal writing and doing long lengthy email negotiation, negotiating emails, that's. Like, you know, have it speak about it, talk about it with people, right. You know, you listen to how obviously developers, um, do so many of their deals. So many, you know, I've spoken with many very, very successful property developers who are still doing their contracts and deals on.

Right. And so, you know, there's, there's that, and this is not to say that we don't have like our terms and conditions signed off and done, but I'm talking about the difference between the proposal and an agreement, right. So you're getting, you're getting to an agreement and a handshake. Okay, great. And then you can, then you can follow up with a proposal of all the breakdowns of here's the deliverables.

And here's the, you know, here's your standard form of agreement of the RBA or the, your, your appointment contract from the AIA or whatever it is. Um, but you can come to these terms, you know, you can come to the agreement face to face, and particularly in a, in a sales conversation, we, we have a thing called the permission step, which is one of the very first parts of a conversation where you deliberately invite all the objections upfront.

Good. Right. So you start, so you start talking about them. Like you might say something along the lines of, you know, there are two reasons why some people may choose not to do business with us. Number one, we're expensive. Number two, number two, we charge 50% of our fees, all of it upfront, or either

Stephen Drew24:44

there's going to be a commercial.

You do that. Yeah, exactly. Are you sure you want to do that?

Rion Willard24:49

Exactly. And then what happens is, is, you know, you know, do you still want to continue this conversation? Well, what do you mean? What do you mean by expensive? What does that mean? Well, I don't know how much your project is going to cost, uh, at right now, but typically where we charge a premium rate for it.

Okay. And then you can have a, you can have a proper adult conversation about fees and you can, then you can start questioning them about what their budget is, where do they, you know, how did they, how do they arrive at that budget? You know what they've done this type of project before. So that's what they, that's where they got those, those fees from, um, how they're going to be paying for it.

Have they got the finance ready? Are they using a mortgage they're using that? You're allowed to ask all this questions and the client appreciates it because now you're having.

Stephen Drew25:33

Yeah, a proper conversation,

Rion Willard25:35

having a proper conversation about a project about what's about what's happening. Um, and so you, you can, you know, you can get creative and, and structure your fees like that.

And, you know, you can just be, I'm not, you know, I'm not gonna, I'm not going to buckle, but the way that we typically sell as architects, and this is not just architects, this is all sorts of businesses and people who have been trained in profession and they just start a business and they don't, I've never had any business training whatsoever.

Then this is what we do. We try and we try and convince and persuade and, you know, and sell and do the dog and pony show of like, let me show in a, an architects will do what they know what they can do well, which is design. So let me show you beautiful designs. And then that's, that's what the client wants.

The reality of it is that the clients typically, you know, they're not as interested in design as well. Hmm. All right. Some are, some are, don't get me wrong, but the way they perceive it, they're not, they're not as sold on it as we are. And what's really interesting when I have clients who move from architecture into development, and then they hire an architect.

And even though they are architects themselves hiring another architect and they're obsessed with design and the architecture obsessed with the design, there's often that kind of a friction, what happens in the settling cause the, the architect doing the selling is now, you know, kind of just obsessed with the design and the person who's putting up the money has got a whole load of other concerns, which are not being discussed.

And that's, what's really worrying them. So it takes a little bit of, again, Um, there's a mindset to sales and marketing of getting inside of the head of the client and where they actually are at now, what their, what their problems are, being able to articulate their problems in a sophisticated manner.

Being able to elicit emotion in terms of understanding what are the real drivers for, for a project, being able to ask uncomfortable questions and talk about fees upfront and your terms and conditions not get confrontational about it. Yeah, exactly. But you know, just having a adult conversation, here's what here's what happens.

Stephen Drew27:50

Well, I loved, I love your bet there of like, this is the. Can you afford it now? I don't mind if you can't and that's the other bit that, um, I learned through recruitment is that there's, there's an infectious, uh, like, um, I almost want to say it's like a disease. I call it hope ism. And the hope is, is like destroys businesses.

Like, oh, if I lower the fee, I hope they go with me and, and this like, and, and I think like hope really can destroy it, especially in pictures because you then start being subservient to the point. Whereas for instance, what I've learnt, which is mad ID and now, but what I try to do. As, when I talk about things from recruitment, I actually am looking to disqualify people which has Mads.

I'm looking for the no, but then what actually happens is that I've learned that yeses are a byproduct of that and that you get clients from it. So it's bizarre. It's like, look, this is my fee. This is the price you go for. All those things you looking for the disqualification, then it makes a lot of difference.

I'll tell you. Years ago, one, um, recruitment meeting I went for and it was a company and they were, and, um, they are a good company. We were talking purely about, they didn't know who I am and they were like, right, Steve. Okay. You snuck in the back door. Okay. You snuck in the back though. Cause I met this guy out.

Um, Okay. We might want to get you to work on the BIM Coordinator role. I might cry. Okay, fantastic. We'll talk about it now. And then the HR lady was like, but before we do that, we gotta to talk about the fees. And so, and as I told you in my podcast, uh, is like Architecture. I, recruitment fee is typically between 15 to 20%, right?

Yeah. And she was like, this lady was like, I work with, um, I never recruitment company at 12%. And I was like, okay, no problem. And, um, and she was just like, can you work at 12%? I was like, I can work at 20 12%. However we at, I normally work at 20%. So what we can do is I'll tell you my range of services and we can agree what we're cutting out.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Right. But it was really in my head. I was like, okay. And then, okay, me and people in person, that's got to go, we need you to meet every candidate. I was like, well, that requires an hour of my time. So I can't do that. It's gone. Okay. Rec friend, Sean. No, he really need, well, get 20 minutes on that.

I, by the end of it feed because, well, I use this, that onto the job done properly, but I think what was interesting and it wasn't her fault, but if recruitment consultants have named the process and they've gone, yeah, we'll do 12% in recruitment is doing thing of what architects, as in, in terms of negotiate, they're not talking about the surveys and then the, and then by nature of it and then go in lower, you cheaper than you can cheap because how do they understand what I do?

And so it wasn't the client's fault, but. For me in terms of negotiation. Yeah. Okay. All right. Yeah.

Rion Willard31:16

That's great. Then if you know, people are pushing you down on phase, then you've got to reduce the scope or you reduce the scope or, you know, what else can you give me? That's of equal value to me in rather than money?

Stephen Drew31:32

I think, I think you're right. Well, we're at the half an hour point. I good. It's man could pull music from while we read out some stuff in the audience. So I've got really music Raytheon by week some what kind of fit you feed in like holiday mode. That might be nice. Cause we're all like a bit tired from, we haven't been on the holiday

actually. It's not working. So I've got, well, if I go out. I can. I says where I was going for a while. I go, if I can say what we'll do. Oh, that's haunted house right now. Right? He's sick. We're going to read out some of the comments here. And Tim, first of all, the sides in software devout, the users scratched in them architect, very liberally.

And that I really can see that. I think that that can affect things. Um, I I'm an architect and I wish I could be called an architect per ARB will Sue me, um, on that. No, of all the old J B.

Rion Willard32:47

Just put another word in front of the word architect, Stephen, and then you'll, you'll get away with now.

Stephen Drew32:53

I'm a design architect.

Is that work X architects. That's where I can mean. There you go. Jason is, oh, yes. That's the best one. I am not an artist pay. Don't come for me. Um, there you go. That Brian Jason's on clubhouse. Yeah. Sounds like a good conversation tonight. Be there, be square at seven o'clock and Jason Cryer rightly says this happens to me all the time.

People want things for free. Yeah. Uh, I like when people ask for free stuff, it's never malicious. I just, again, I think you need to constantly. Show people understand the value. So for instance, an hour of my time, if you want, like, if you, if you, I don't know if you've ever paid for a lawyer and it's a good thing, as you said before, like a solicitor, you pay up front and you pay a lot for that conversation.

They'll take a grand and they'll prepare, you got to send them the documentation. And if you walk too much in that, then they're going to charge you more because it's longer to read. And then for that hour conversation, it's timed. And if you go over on it, they'll go, oh, we kind of went over a bit. So you need to pay us for the next chunk.

Right. Totally, totally different world. And everyone respects the solicitor. So completely agree with your point diary and saying that you will not catch a solicitor doing pro bono work. I'm going to read out

Rion Willard34:15

these points and they will do pro bono work, but they won't, they won't do like work for free with a client when they could

Stephen Drew34:21

be charging.

Yeah. Maybe, maybe hams is saying my Internet's playing upbringing. That's a nightmare.

Rion Willard34:28

It is a little bit. But we can, we can, we can live with it.

Stephen Drew34:32

We can live with there. Am I Gritch now it's the matrix. It might be that LinkedIn wants to take me down,

Rion Willard34:38

right? Dammit. It's the Chinese company that's trying to stop here.

Stephen Drew34:41

Yeah, no, I've gotten all the people chasing me on that's on YouTube. They'll Ray. And so as Stephanie says, this is fantastic. Thank you both. You've given a lot of free books through podcasts. I'm interested in your thoughts best with dealing with challenging clients. And in the case that the team has done a lot of design work, but the client refuses to pay or even sign off design stages.

Well, that's a tough one. That's a bits and bobs of what we said before. Ran. I come, I'm passing the ball, see for two reasons. One, my internet might be good for now, but two, do you have any thoughts on that or I can share mine.

Rion Willard35:20

Yes. Yes. So dealing with dealing with challenging clients, whether the team's done already, a lot of design work and the client, the client is refusing to pay.

My first thing is stop. Yeah, right. So this is something that we do a lot with, with clients is dealing with unpaid invoices. Yep. And this can be brutal. I mean, this stuff I've heard Stephen and stuff, you've heard the stuff I've had. The things you've told me. My goodness. I had a, I was chatting to one person last year and they were telling me this was a company that was turning over around 600,000 pounds.

And they had, it was close to a quarter of a million pounds of unpaid fees. Right. God that's, that is, you know, that's, that is super serious, serious stuff when it's happening. Um, and so when a client is, you know, they're not, they're not paying, the first Institute is going to have to stop. You're going to have to stop the work.

Yeah. Not doing any work with them. And sometimes you'll get developers. They're not paying you. And you know, they, they, they assume that you're in a paid when paid contract. Okay. So a lot of, a lot of these problems that happen happen as a result of the way that the contracts have been set up in the first place.

And they, and as a result of a lack of negotiation upfront and negotiating face-to-face and having a conversation at the beginning about unpaid fees, right? So I'll often do a thing with, with, with clients where, you know, you can bring it up at the, in the, in the first conversations about, you know, one of the biggest issues in our industry is, is late paid invoices.

How are we going to avoid that happening? I'm sure it's not going to happen with you. You seem like great people, but how do you normally deal with it with your, with your other consultants that you pay, that you make sure that they're getting, they're getting paid on time? What would happen if you don't get, if you don't get paid from your investors or whoever would that have an impact on, on us, I'm going to tell you now that we don't work on a paid rent, paid, paid rent, paid country, Right now say you get through all of that and that you do that.

And I'm talking about having this conversation in the sales process right now, let's say that you actually signed the contract. How often do you have a, a kind of kickoff meeting where you go through in a gracious and friendly and warm manner? It doesn't need to be confrontational, right? Or, or adversarial, but actually starting off the contract with the new clients, like as part of your onboarding system, here are the seven ideal qualities that make a fantastic relationship between myself as the architect and you as the clients.

And you could have number one, you know, um, you must realize you're gonna be making a lot of decisions, the decisions that you make, they are gonna impact the overall budget and the cost of the, of the, of the, of the process. Okay. Yeah. Number two, then somewhere in there, then you can say being paid on time and you just have an upfront conversation about it yet.

Right. So we manage our fees. We have, you know, we have a commencement fee. 50% of that fee is paid up front at the beginning of each stage. We'll, you know, we hold onto that. And then we'll, we, we, bill on, we barely have a monthly on, you know, every month from a bill by hourly rates or however, however you set your billing up or you bill at the end of milestones, right.

And then, and then you remind the client, look, if, if something happens and you can't pay us, get in contact with us. We're not adversarial. We're not going to get into a fight about it. But if there's a problem and you can't make the payment, for some reason, we need to be in communication, right. If invoices go out, you know, unpaid, and it goes beyond our time of seven days or 30 days, I'd always recommend have as short as time possible.

I don't know why people have 30 day invoice period on, on Architecture projects, which are already taking months and months and months. That's ludicrous. Okay. But two, if, if that, if that