Episode 2

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Published on:

16th Nov 2023

A Different Approach To Pricing & Positioning Architectural Services with Janine Coombes | 002

In this episode of Architecture Business Club, host Jon Clayton speaks with service positioning expert, Janine Coombes, to discuss different approaches to pricing and positioning architectural services. Acknowledging common charging methods such as percentage of build costs, fixed price, or by the hour, they address the potential of learning from other service sectors. Janine stresses the importance of selling the benefit rather than the service. She urges architectural service providers to emphasize the outcome of their work rather than the service itself. They also delve into the concept of 'niching', carving out a specific corner of the marketplace to establish a unique proposition. The episode also broaches the delicate topic of handling pricing proposals.

Today's Guest...

Janine Coombes is a service positioning expert who helps coaches and consultants to earn drastically more from their 1:1 services without slogging their guts out or moving to a more complicated business model. She has an extensive background in business and marketing including working with big brands like EE, Orange, and Europcar. Janine also has a business degree, a post-graduate marketing diploma (CIM Dip) and for the last 7 years has been helping small, service-based business owners to position and sell their offers. She regularly speaks on stages like Atomicon, You Are The Media, and MarketEd.Live. She’s a skilled writer and one of the most creative content creators out there.

Episode Highlights...

00:00 Introduction to Architectural Services Pricing

00:27 About the Host and the Show

00:59 Introduction to Guest Speaker - Janine Coombes

01:12 Janine's Background and Expertise

02:01 Janine's Unusual Hobby

03:00 Pricing Strategies for Architectural Services

03:28 The Importance of Positioning and Niching

03:35 Common Mistakes in Pricing Services

06:38 How to Present Services to Potential Clients

11:02 The Art of Sending a Fee Proposal

26:49 The Benefits of Niching

30:49 Final Thoughts and Wrap Up

33:41 Preview of the Next Episode

34:02 Closing Remarks and Contact Information

Key Takeaways...

👉Pricing architectural services: Consider a different approach to pricing and positioning architectural services beyond charging by the hour or percentage of bill costs. Sell the benefit and focus on the end result. Position yourself in a specific corner of the marketplace to stand out and avoid being seen as a commodity.

👉Presenting services: Be clear on who you want to work with and identify the types of projects and personalities that you enjoy working with. Promote yourself based on the end result and create a unique proposition to attract clients.

👉Fee proposals: Take the time to have conversations with potential clients before sending out a fee proposal. Gather information, understand their needs and motivations, and then present the proposal in person or on a video call. Reiterate the benefits of your services before mentioning the price.

👉Niching: Explore niching in architectural services by creating different offers for specific target markets. You can have a range of services for different people, each with a sharp target market. This allows you to cut through the competition, be more competitive on price, and become known for your expertise.

👉Confidence in pricing: Look at what other businesses are charging for similar services and recognize that you provide more value and care than they do. Associate your price with the benefit you bring to clients' lives. Consider incremental price increases after each successful project.

👉Understanding clients: Take the time to understand your clients' motivations, why they want to undertake a project, and the consequences of not doing it. Explore what's at stake for them and how motivated they are to take action before entering into the sales process.

👉Referrals: Aim to get referrals from the right kind of clients. It's rare to have pure referrals that perfectly align with your ideal client, but focusing on your target market and providing exceptional service can lead to better-quality referrals over time.

👉Standing out: Niche your services to stand out from the competition. Create offers that are targeted and crystal clear in their messaging. Put yourself in a specific market segment, whether it's domestic or commercial work, and focus on that area while still offering a variety of services.

Links Mentioned In The Episode...

Email Janine

janine@janinecoombes.co.uk

Connect with Janine on LinkedIn

https://www.linkedin.com/in/janinecoombes

Janine’s Website

https://www.janinecoombes.co.uk

What To Do Next...

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https://mrjonclayton.co.uk/abc

📐Leave a positive review to support the show.

https://www.podchaser.com/podcasts/architecture-business-club-5485140

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https://www.linkedin.com/in/mrjonclayton/

📐Find Jon on other social media platforms by searching for…

@mrjonclayton

📐Subscribe to Jon’s YouTube channel here.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGZOAac4salmSX0wWRT7JUg

📐Visit Jon’s website here.

https://mrjonclayton.co.uk/

In The Next Episode...

Next time, Jon chats with Kris Baxter, founder of Studio 11 Architecture. Find out how business coaching transformed Kris' architectural practice and learn how coaching can have a profound impact not just on your business, but also on your personal growth as a business owner. You won't want to miss it!

Transcript
Jon Clayton:

How do you price your architectural services?

Jon Clayton:

Maybe you charge a percentage of bill costs.

Jon Clayton:

Or come up with a fixed price or maybe you charge by the hour.

Jon Clayton:

But what can we learn from how other one-to-one service providers,

Jon Clayton:

price and position their services?

Jon Clayton:

And this episode of architecture business club, I chat with Janine

Jon Clayton:

Coombs about a different approach to pricing and positioning your services.

Jon Clayton:

Architecture business club is the weekly podcast for solo and small

Jon Clayton:

firm architecture practice owners, just like you who want to build a

Jon Clayton:

profitable future-proof architecture business that fits around their life.

Jon Clayton:

I'm the host John Clayton.

Jon Clayton:

And if you want to get notified, when I release a new episode, And get access

Jon Clayton:

to free resources and exclusive offers.

Jon Clayton:

Then go to Mr.

Jon Clayton:

John clayton.co.uk forward slash ABC.

Jon Clayton:

And sign up to my free weekly email newsletter.

Jon Clayton:

Right.

Jon Clayton:

Let's get on with the show.

Jon Clayton:

Janine Coombes is a service positioning expert who can help you earn much

Jon Clayton:

more from your one to one services without slogging your guts out or

Jon Clayton:

moving to a complicated business model.

Jon Clayton:

She has an extensive background in business and marketing,

Jon Clayton:

including working with big brands like EE, Orange and Europcar.

Jon Clayton:

And for the last seven years, she's been helping small service

Jon Clayton:

based business owners to better position and sell their offers.

Jon Clayton:

She regularly speaks on big stages like Atomicon, You Are

Jon Clayton:

the Media and MarketEd.Live.

Jon Clayton:

She's also a skilled writer and flat out one of the most creative

Jon Clayton:

content creators out there.

Jon Clayton:

You can grab Janine's free guide, Six Steps to Charging More with 100

Jon Clayton:

percent confidence at janinecoombes co.uk/charge-more-workbook.

Jon Clayton:

Janine, welcome to Architecture Business Club.

Janine Coombes:

Oh, thank you for having me.

Janine Coombes:

It's a pleasure to be here.

Janine Coombes:

Thank you for the lovely intro.

Jon Clayton:

Oh, you're very welcome.

Jon Clayton:

It's nice to get the chance to have a chat with you.

Jon Clayton:

Um, before we dive straight into today's topic, I hear you've done

Jon Clayton:

some stand up comedy and I wanted to ask, how did it feel the first time

Jon Clayton:

you went out on stage to do comedy?

Janine Coombes:

Now, I feel like I might have oversold myself here

Janine Coombes:

because the first time was also the last time, but it was great.

Janine Coombes:

I mean, I did a, I did a stand up comedy course and culminating in a showcase

Janine Coombes:

where we all had to do a five minute set.

Jon Clayton:

You're far braver than me.

Jon Clayton:

I would not have the, uh, the guts to, to do that.

Jon Clayton:

Um, and I thought it was, it was a good thing that they

Jon Clayton:

wasn't quite as packed a room.

Jon Clayton:

Was that good for the first time?

Janine Coombes:

For, for me.

Janine Coombes:

I thought it was, yeah, it really allayed any nerves I had because I have spoken

Janine Coombes:

on stages before for hundreds of people.

Janine Coombes:

So seven, I thought, Oh God, I can handle seven people.

Jon Clayton:

Well done you.

Jon Clayton:

So let's move on to the topic that we were going to talk about.

Jon Clayton:

And typically there are three ways that architecture practices.

Jon Clayton:

Typically charge for those services.

Jon Clayton:

Um, a percentage fee of build costs, hourly rate of a fixed price.

Jon Clayton:

But today we're going to talk about a different approach to

Jon Clayton:

pricing architectural services.

Jon Clayton:

This also applies to other service based business owners as well.

Jon Clayton:

Um, and it's based on how coaches and consultants do things.

Jon Clayton:

And we're also going to cover positioning and niching.

Jon Clayton:

So I'm, I'm really looking forward to digging into this thing.

Jon Clayton:

It's going to be really interesting.

Jon Clayton:

So, um, Janine, what common mistakes do you see service providers

Jon Clayton:

make when it comes to pricing?

Janine Coombes:

I wouldn't tell people stop charging by the hour, stop charging

Janine Coombes:

by percentage of the bill costs, whatever you're doing at the moment.

Janine Coombes:

But what I would say is a common mistake is.

Janine Coombes:

Selling architectural services, if you know what I mean, instead of selling

Janine Coombes:

the benefit, if you can find a way to, um, promote yourself based on

Janine Coombes:

the end result, and part of that is.

Janine Coombes:

Being clear on who you want to work with ideally, who you've worked with in the

Janine Coombes:

past that you've really enjoyed, what did they say they wanted when they first

Janine Coombes:

spoke, spoke to you, um, if you can position it around that and, and carve out

Janine Coombes:

a corner of the marketplace for yourself that is just yours, you're going to have

Janine Coombes:

less comparing with competitors because in theory, like a direct competitor, um,

Janine Coombes:

It becomes less of a thing, like there are fewer direct competitors if you can

Janine Coombes:

carve out your corner of the marketplace.

Janine Coombes:

And it's going to make it easier to make sales as well because people who you love

Janine Coombes:

working with are going to see you and say, Oh, okay, I want to work with that person.

Janine Coombes:

And, um, they, you become the only person for them rather than

Janine Coombes:

in a sea of architects, you're just yet another architect.

Janine Coombes:

And it leaves you open to people comparing you based on price, cost per hour or cost,

Janine Coombes:

you know, overall cost, project cost.

Janine Coombes:

You, you want to, as much as possible, move away being a commodity, move away

Janine Coombes:

from being a commodity, if you can.

Jon Clayton:

Oh, that's really interesting.

Jon Clayton:

And that's the opposite of the way that a lot of people

Jon Clayton:

within our industry do things.

Jon Clayton:

Uh, it is often about, um, selling the, the service rather than the,

Jon Clayton:

the outcome, you know, whether that's building design or selling plans.

Jon Clayton:

So that's, um, it's, it's a different way to approach things for sure.

Janine Coombes:

Yeah.

Janine Coombes:

And it could be quite a big departure.

Janine Coombes:

And I mean, at the end of the day, people are looking for an architect.

Janine Coombes:

So you can't be too esoteric.

Janine Coombes:

I can imagine you still, you know, you still have to appear in

Janine Coombes:

front of people as an architect.

Janine Coombes:

It's like, yes, I can solve.

Janine Coombes:

These are the things that I actually do.

Janine Coombes:

Um, you're in safe hands for these things that you're going to expect

Janine Coombes:

an architect to be able to do.

Janine Coombes:

Um, but yeah, I think the conversation we're going to have today, it's,

Janine Coombes:

it's drawing on what I would advise coaches, you know, my bread and butter

Janine Coombes:

is coaches, consultants, mentors, that kind of one to one service provider.

Janine Coombes:

What can we learn?

Janine Coombes:

What could we explore for architects to, to cross pollinate

Janine Coombes:

and learn from those industries?

Jon Clayton:

I love that because I think that there's, um, there's so

Jon Clayton:

much that we can learn from people in different professions and different

Jon Clayton:

industries that we can, we can cherry pick the good bits and apply those to

Jon Clayton:

our own business in our own industry.

Jon Clayton:

So I love that idea that we're, we're talking about.

Jon Clayton:

You know how people from perhaps another world do things and

Jon Clayton:

looking at how we can apply that to architecture business owners.

Jon Clayton:

I think that's really great.

Jon Clayton:

So how can we, as You know, architectural service providers, architects you

Jon Clayton:

mentioned a little bit there about, um, how we present ourselves.

Jon Clayton:

So how can we better present our services to potential clients?

Janine Coombes:

Um, so this is easier if you've been running for a few years,

Janine Coombes:

because when you've been running for a few years, you have, you know, many

Janine Coombes:

clients under your belt and you know exactly who you like working with and

Janine Coombes:

exactly who you don't like working with when you're first starting out.

Janine Coombes:

It's a bit more of a trial and error, you're, you're deep in the trial and

Janine Coombes:

error, you know, you think you've landed a good client and then they, they don't pay

Janine Coombes:

you or they, they force you out of scope or, you know, horrible things happen.

Janine Coombes:

So when you've been around the block a bit, it's easier for my, my process

Janine Coombes:

is based on people who've been.

Janine Coombes:

Being around the block and had a good many clients already, because

Janine Coombes:

in an ideal world, you would have a look at the roster of clients you've

Janine Coombes:

had in the past, identify the ones that you really love working with.

Janine Coombes:

They brought you really exciting projects.

Janine Coombes:

They've paid you well, they've paid you on time.

Janine Coombes:

They don't quibble, they don't nitpick, they don't try and negotiate you down.

Janine Coombes:

They don't try and compare you to other people too much.

Janine Coombes:

Um, and then you can start noticing the themes in those.

Janine Coombes:

Clients, and usually there are themes with the types of projects and the types

Janine Coombes:

of personalities of people that, you know, they have come up in your research.

Janine Coombes:

When looking at your old client base, um, and then you can, once

Janine Coombes:

you've got backlit, then you can start appealing to those people.

Janine Coombes:

So you can imagine an example might be like, maybe you like, really

Janine Coombes:

love working with like boho people who have an eccentric approach and

Janine Coombes:

they're, they want you to run with it and they've got a massive budget.

Janine Coombes:

Or, you know, you can imagine any kind of variation on that theme of,

Janine Coombes:

of a mixture of values, personality, what they want from you, budget, you

Janine Coombes:

know, and using those combinations, you can put together your own unique.

Janine Coombes:

Proposition?

Janine Coombes:

I don't know whether I answered the question there.

Janine Coombes:

I went off on one.

Jon Clayton:

It's fine.

Jon Clayton:

No, there's some really valuable insights there.

Jon Clayton:

Um, yeah.

Jon Clayton:

So if we are, if we reflect on the clients that we've already worked with, reflect

Jon Clayton:

on those previous projects and look at which clients we enjoyed working with.

Jon Clayton:

Which one's paid on time, um, which was generally a good experience for us.

Jon Clayton:

It was a good working relationship between us as the service

Jon Clayton:

provider and them as the client.

Jon Clayton:

We can hone in our messaging on our positioning on attracting

Jon Clayton:

more people like that.

Janine Coombes:

Yeah.

Janine Coombes:

Yeah.

Janine Coombes:

And it becomes a virtuous circle because if you get a few more clients like

Janine Coombes:

that, and then because you're focusing in on that and you enjoy working with

Janine Coombes:

those people, you get better results.

Janine Coombes:

They tell their friends, so you sort of get into the right circles,

Janine Coombes:

um, and hopefully you get more referrals of the right kind.

Jon Clayton:

interesting.

Jon Clayton:

Getting the right kind of referrals.

Jon Clayton:

Is that, is that a common problem that you found with other service providers

Jon Clayton:

maybe getting the wrong referrals?

Janine Coombes:

Yeah, it's rare that I come across a client who comes to me

Janine Coombes:

saying, yeah, I'm getting all my work through referrals, but they're great.

Janine Coombes:

Every single one is completely my ideal client.

Janine Coombes:

I mean, it's just really hard to control what kind of referrals you get.

Janine Coombes:

Um, I think it's luck if you've managed to get pure referrals that are brilliant.

Janine Coombes:

I think either you're very, very easy to please or you've been very, very lucky.

Janine Coombes:

I think it's, you know, especially in the early years, it's so tempting,

Janine Coombes:

no matter what your business is, so tempting to accept all the business.

Janine Coombes:

It's like all businesses, any business is good business.

Janine Coombes:

I need money rolling in, I need clients.

Janine Coombes:

And then gradually you start to think, hang on a minute.

Janine Coombes:

Um, I don't think I really want.

Janine Coombes:

But to an extent, I think people, it's another theme I see when working with

Janine Coombes:

service based business owners is, um, what I hear a lot of is I like the variety

Janine Coombes:

though, you know, people are telling me to niche, but I like the variety and I

Janine Coombes:

think it's not a hundred percent true.

Jon Clayton:

Hmm.

Janine Coombes:

I think you could have variety without

Janine Coombes:

accepting non ideal clients.

Jon Clayton:

That's a good point.

Jon Clayton:

Um, I wanted to ask about fee proposals and what approach that

Jon Clayton:

you'd recommend when sending out a fee proposal or quotation.

Jon Clayton:

Have you got any thoughts on that, Janine?

Janine Coombes:

Um, what is it?

Janine Coombes:

Paint the picture for me.

Janine Coombes:

What's happened?

Janine Coombes:

Where are they in the, in the sales process?

Jon Clayton:

Um, well, okay.

Jon Clayton:

It could be, it could be that somebody's Either got in touch made an initial

Jon Clayton:

inquiry, again, different architectural practices will have a slightly different

Jon Clayton:

way of doing this, but it will either be a case where somebody's got in touch.

Jon Clayton:

They've had a conversation with the service provider, uh, maybe

Jon Clayton:

there's been an email exchange.

Jon Clayton:

And then either then they'll cut straight to the chase and send them out a price

Jon Clayton:

or more commonly, what will happen is perhaps they might go out to visit the

Jon Clayton:

customer, particularly if it's maybe a home owner that's looking to do a home

Jon Clayton:

renovation, they might go and see them in person, visit the property and then follow

Jon Clayton:

that up often with a simple proposal that perhaps just gets emailed off afterwards.

Jon Clayton:

Um, I'm just wondering if there's any better ways that that could be

Jon Clayton:

done, if the, if there's any better ways to presenting and sending a

Jon Clayton:

fee proposal than just pinging off via email and hoping for the best.

Janine Coombes:

Hmm.

Janine Coombes:

This is a, it's a really good question.

Janine Coombes:

So I think if somebody has just emailed you and asked for a proposal

Janine Coombes:

without any communication, I think that it's not necessarily a red

Janine Coombes:

flag, but I would, I would hold off from sending just a blank proposal.

Janine Coombes:

I mean, you don't know, do you, until you've actually had a conversation.

Janine Coombes:

But I mean, those, those conversations and those...

Janine Coombes:

Um, that the insights you're going to get and the information you need

Janine Coombes:

to put together a quote, like an accurate quote proposal, that's all

Janine Coombes:

part of the relationship building.

Janine Coombes:

So I definitely wouldn't share any pricing, any accurate pricing

Janine Coombes:

or detailed pricing before that relationship building has been done.

Janine Coombes:

Um, and the information gathering has been done.

Janine Coombes:

I suppose after you've, you've, you know, maybe gone to visit, maybe you've

Janine Coombes:

looked around, you've, you've done the.

Janine Coombes:

Uh, due diligence, whatever you call it.

Janine Coombes:

And you've put together, you've got enough information to put that proposal together.

Janine Coombes:

I think emailing it is fine.

Janine Coombes:

Some people have a lot of, they prefer actually to present the proposal.

Janine Coombes:

So that's one idea and before I talk about that, I would like to state, you

Janine Coombes:

know, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Janine Coombes:

If you feel like you've got your proposal process and it's working for

Janine Coombes:

you, disregard what I'm going to say.

Janine Coombes:

If you feel like you're, you know, winning the proposals you want.

Janine Coombes:

Um, But I have had certain clients have had success with actually saying, okay,

Janine Coombes:

so we've had, we've had a conversation.

Janine Coombes:

I've looked around the house or look around the property we've met in person.

Janine Coombes:

I'm going to do your proposal.

Janine Coombes:

What I normally do is present that back and then they can present it.

Janine Coombes:

And what that allows you to do is cover off any objections as you go along.

Janine Coombes:

It's so much harder to say, On a, on a piece of paper to, to explain the value

Janine Coombes:

of all those different stages and explain that you, you can't haggle, you can't take

Janine Coombes:

out chunk, you know, that chunk costs, say, you know, two grand to do that chunk.

Janine Coombes:

No, you can't take that out because the whole thing will

Janine Coombes:

fall flat and it won't work.

Janine Coombes:

So it's easier to present that face to face or on Zoom.

Janine Coombes:

Um, rather than sending it via email and hoping for the best.

Janine Coombes:

Um, another point to make is in any way, shape or form, if you can put the final

Janine Coombes:

price after reiterating the benefit.

Janine Coombes:

Of what you're helping the person achieve, like say, they've said, you know, what

Janine Coombes:

I really want is I want my mum to move in with me and I want her to feel not, I

Janine Coombes:

want her to feel like she's part of the family, but also to have her own space,

Janine Coombes:

like, you know, what you can imagine the conversations that are around that

Janine Coombes:

might be quite emotional and might be quite rich and full of certain language.

Janine Coombes:

If you can reiterate that on the proposal before putting the price,

Janine Coombes:

instead of putting the price next to some hours or a percentage of the

Janine Coombes:

overall cost that will remind them what they're paying for is the result.

Janine Coombes:

They're not paying for your hours.

Janine Coombes:

Does that make sense?

Jon Clayton:

I love that.

Jon Clayton:

So if in those initial conversations.

Jon Clayton:

Before we get to the point of presenting a fee proposal or sending off a quotation,

Jon Clayton:

we can dig into, find out what the underlying reasons are, like the kind

Jon Clayton:

of emotional hook, if you like, as to why they're doing this thing, um,

Jon Clayton:

and then to give them a reminder of that when we present that price that

Jon Clayton:

say, look, you know, this is what it, this is the price, but this is to give

Jon Clayton:

you this transformation of, you know, your elderly relative moving in and,

Jon Clayton:

you know, all being under one roof, whatever the reasons are, I could see

Jon Clayton:

how that could be really kind of powerful when you're presenting your offer.

Janine Coombes:

Yeah.

Janine Coombes:

Yeah.

Janine Coombes:

I mean, I don't know whether architects tend to do that.

Janine Coombes:

How much do they delve into the, the why's?

Janine Coombes:

Hmm.

Jon Clayton:

Well, in my experience, probably nowhere near enough.

Jon Clayton:

That's something that I probably didn't do for quite a while throughout my career

Jon Clayton:

of selling architectural services, and it's only in latter years that I've,

Jon Clayton:

I've started doing that and try to integrate it into my own sales process.

Janine Coombes:

Hmm.

Jon Clayton:

to try and find out really like people will often ring up and

Jon Clayton:

say, you know, we, we need some plans for a house extension, for example.

Jon Clayton:

And so they kind of have an idea of what they think they,

Jon Clayton:

what they think they need.

Jon Clayton:

Um.

Jon Clayton:

But then actually then digging in and finding out the reasons behind it,

Jon Clayton:

it really does give you a much fuller picture of how motivated they are...

Janine Coombes:

hmm.

Jon Clayton:

to go ahead and, um, and also I think exploring the consequences of...

Jon Clayton:

of not doing it as well.

Jon Clayton:

Actually, they have reasons that they, why they want to do it, but also

Jon Clayton:

asking them about what are the stakes?

Jon Clayton:

What's at stake here?

Jon Clayton:

You know, what are the consequences of not doing this thing?

Jon Clayton:

Um, which is another interesting thing that I've started asking people as well.

Jon Clayton:

Remember, don't forget to subscribe to my free weekly email newsletter.

Jon Clayton:

You can do that at mrjonclayton.co.uk/abc.

Jon Clayton:

And if you are enjoying this episode then please visit podchaser.com,

Jon Clayton:

search for Architecture Business Club and leave a five star review.

Jon Clayton:

Now, back to the show.

Janine Coombes:

Yes, that's really interesting, isn't it?

Janine Coombes:

Like how motivated are they?

Janine Coombes:

Because you could spend hours a month doing quotes for people who aren't really

Janine Coombes:

that motivated to take action right now.

Janine Coombes:

I mean that that would be a really frustrating place to

Janine Coombes:

be in unless you probe the why why now what's really going on?

Janine Coombes:

How how motivated are you to take action within the next few months?

Janine Coombes:

You might think, you might end up thinking, oh, they've got, they've

Janine Coombes:

said no because of me and it's not.

Janine Coombes:

It's because they just weren't in a position to buy yet.

Janine Coombes:

And that can start refining your sales process and your marketing.

Janine Coombes:

Cause I always say, sell to people who are ready to buy, which sounds really

Janine Coombes:

obvious, but so many people don't.

Janine Coombes:

They, they meet people a little bit too early on in the process and they have

Janine Coombes:

those sales conversations too early on when they end up in a no, it feels like

Janine Coombes:

a rejection, like a personal rejection.

Janine Coombes:

It's just like, they're not ready to buy yet.

Janine Coombes:

They weren't ready to buy.

Jon Clayton:

That's, um, that's a really interesting point.

Jon Clayton:

And I think sometimes as You know, architects, architectural service

Jon Clayton:

providers, we can forget that potentially this is, it's a huge investment

Jon Clayton:

for people to make, particularly if it's a homeowner that's doing some

Jon Clayton:

kind of renovation or extension.

Jon Clayton:

Other than buying the house it might be their single biggest investment

Jon Clayton:

that they make in the whole life.

Jon Clayton:

You think how, how far ahead and how many, how much research you

Jon Clayton:

might do if you're buying a car.

Jon Clayton:

Or thinking about a family holiday.

Jon Clayton:

Often it's done months and months in advance of when you're

Jon Clayton:

actually ready to buy anything.

Jon Clayton:

And I think we forget sometimes how long that lead-in time can be

Jon Clayton:

before someone is ready to buy.

Janine Coombes:

Yeah, years ago we had a terrible experience with a very pushy,

Janine Coombes:

you know, she was part of a bigger company and she's, she was sent around

Janine Coombes:

to give us a quote for our kitchen and we were, we were just speculating.

Janine Coombes:

We were just like, well, what's, what's possible with this remodeling

Janine Coombes:

of, you know, do we knock through?

Janine Coombes:

Do we not knock through?

Janine Coombes:

And she tried to go for the sale.

Janine Coombes:

There and then it's like, we haven't even decided whether

Janine Coombes:

we're knocking through or not yet.

Janine Coombes:

How can you sell us?

Janine Coombes:

And she was doing all these weird, like imaginary calls to the manager.

Janine Coombes:

Yes.

Janine Coombes:

I'm sorry.

Janine Coombes:

I don't think it's going to be a yes.

Janine Coombes:

They'll try.

Janine Coombes:

She was trying to pressure us into buying.

Janine Coombes:

What's going on?

Janine Coombes:

This is weird.

Jon Clayton:

No way.

Janine Coombes:

I don't know whether those sorts of things work or not.

Janine Coombes:

They must, they must work for a proportion of people.

Jon Clayton:

Well, maybe, maybe, um, I mean, when it comes to, to get in

Jon Clayton:

quotes, uh, I mean, most people will tend to get three, at least three quotes.

Jon Clayton:

And this goes for kind of other service providers as well, but if people

Jon Clayton:

are going to be spending significant amount of money on an architect or

Jon Clayton:

an architectural service provider, probably going to get three quotes.

Jon Clayton:

So in a competitive industry like architecture, how can

Jon Clayton:

we stand out from the crowd?

Janine Coombes:

Yeah.

Janine Coombes:

I think that goes down to, we're going to have the conversation about niching.

Janine Coombes:

How au fait are architects as a, in a, as an industry about niching?

Janine Coombes:

Are they, do we have to give it a definition or not?

Jon Clayton:

Let's, let's do the, the niching 101 or the niching for

Jon Clayton:

the, uh, the listeners overseas.

Janine Coombes:

Okay.

Janine Coombes:

Right.

Janine Coombes:

So I've got a love, hate, mainly hate relationship with the word niche

Janine Coombes:

because I think it implies that your whole business focuses on a very narrow

Janine Coombes:

proportion of the available marketplace.

Janine Coombes:

I don't like that because.

Janine Coombes:

It's, it feels very restrictive and it is restrictive.

Janine Coombes:

Like it works for a minority of companies where they've taken a very, very

Janine Coombes:

small proportion of their audience and they've really, really focused on it.

Janine Coombes:

These companies are usually very big, usually the way they worked it.

Janine Coombes:

Um, so they've got the volume, what you, you don't have to do that.

Janine Coombes:

You can have.

Janine Coombes:

A range of services for different people, and each offer has to have a very,

Janine Coombes:

very sharp target market for each one.

Janine Coombes:

So if I had, if Janine had a, um, I'm talking about myself in third person.

Janine Coombes:

Now, if Janine had a fantasy football league for architects

Janine Coombes:

and I had an architect firm, I would have like an offer for, um.

Janine Coombes:

You know, let's use the example of Granny Annex.

Janine Coombes:

I'd have, you know, right, you're looking for a Granny Annex?

Janine Coombes:

I've got the perfect thing for you.

Janine Coombes:

It's for people who absolutely love their loved one and they want to bring

Janine Coombes:

them in, but they want to be part of the, you know, exactly how I...

Janine Coombes:

Articulated it before.

Janine Coombes:

That's, that's the offer for that person, right?

Janine Coombes:

Um, and then I'd have a different one for total home remodeling, adding at least

Janine Coombes:

33 percent to the footprint, and they've got a budget of at least 500 grand.

Janine Coombes:

I don't know whether that's a lot or little, I don't know.

Janine Coombes:

They've got at least a budget of, let's say a million, you know, and that would

Janine Coombes:

be a very specific profile of person.

Janine Coombes:

And then you might have a third one.

Janine Coombes:

You start with one and get that going and then you can add more as you go along.

Janine Coombes:

But being really targeted with the offers that you've got

Janine Coombes:

would allow you to cut through.

Janine Coombes:

And it's like, Oh, well you want this person.

Janine Coombes:

You can absolutely pick one and you could go deep on that one thing.

Janine Coombes:

You could be the kitchen diner person.

Janine Coombes:

I don't know whether that's a desirable place to get, uh, to go for.

Janine Coombes:

You could be the Victorian conversion kitchen diner person.

Janine Coombes:

And you've done so many of them.

Janine Coombes:

You can almost do them.

Janine Coombes:

You can knock them out, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang.

Janine Coombes:

And you could be more competitive on price because you were the absolute,

Janine Coombes:

I know the problems that occur with Victorian properties and I, I know

Janine Coombes:

what you're going to need before you even going to ask it and you

Janine Coombes:

know, yes, you could, you could use.

Janine Coombes:

The amount of time you could spend on each one because you're such an expert,

Janine Coombes:

but you could arguably charge a little bit more because you'd be able to pick

Janine Coombes:

bits up that a non specialist would miss.

Janine Coombes:

Do you know what I mean?

Janine Coombes:

I'm getting very excited.

Jon Clayton:

I I get it, I get it.

Jon Clayton:

Um, I, I love

Janine Coombes:

I'm planning a whole architectural company.

Janine Coombes:

I'm like, Ooh, I could have a, I could have an offer for this person.

Janine Coombes:

Yeah.

Janine Coombes:

I'm launching tomorrow.

Jon Clayton:

Do it . Um, that's really interesting though, because I love

Jon Clayton:

the idea that, 'cause I, I think there's probably some misconceptions

Jon Clayton:

there about this idea of niching that in niching it's like, oh, well

Jon Clayton:

I have to just be like the garage conversion guy or whatever was actually.

Jon Clayton:

As long as the offers are niche that you could actually still serve people

Jon Clayton:

in a variety of different ways.

Jon Clayton:

As long as the messaging is like crystal clear and very specific for

Jon Clayton:

each of those individual offers.

Janine Coombes:

Yeah.

Janine Coombes:

And it would help if they came under the same banner, you know,

Janine Coombes:

it would help if you could imagine if you were the garage conversion

Janine Coombes:

guy, that would be really handy.

Janine Coombes:

You would cut through really, really well.

Janine Coombes:

And then you could have offers within that category.

Janine Coombes:

You could say, you know, you've got a small, medium and large or large.

Janine Coombes:

You could have, you know, um, what would large be?

Janine Coombes:

Double garage, dugout, basement, pool installation.

Janine Coombes:

I don't know.

Jon Clayton:

Okay.

Jon Clayton:

So as long as try and keep those offers within the same realm, we don't want

Jon Clayton:

to be doing like, you know, a garage conversion guy stroke, comedy, juggler.

Jon Clayton:

Expert.

Janine Coombes:

Well, no, I mean, that would be really diverse, wouldn't it?

Janine Coombes:

But I'm wondering, you know, if you had an architecture firm that had.

Janine Coombes:

You logically could have total home conversion, garage conversion, extension,

Janine Coombes:

kitchen, diner extension, annex.

Janine Coombes:

You could have those things.

Janine Coombes:

If you could have them all still with an umbrella over them, like

Janine Coombes:

I only deal with people whose properties are 10 million plus

Jon Clayton:

Yep.

Janine Coombes:

they, they want the, they want everything to a certain standard.

Janine Coombes:

You know, what are those indicators that those people would want?

Janine Coombes:

If you can have a theme, it would be better.

Jon Clayton:

Got it.

Jon Clayton:

A common thing is that there'll be some practices that will specialize just in

Jon Clayton:

what we call like domestic client work.

Jon Clayton:

So homeowners do renovations and extensions, but then there's also

Jon Clayton:

commercial clients that maybe, you know it could be works to business

Jon Clayton:

premises, or it could be a housing development or property developer or

Jon Clayton:

kind of anything else, anybody else that needs architectural services that

Jon Clayton:

isn't doing, doing works on their home.

Jon Clayton:

So that's another way that it could be kind of, um, contained within a niche.

Jon Clayton:

It could be, we just do commercial work and these are the offers, or we just

Jon Clayton:

do the domestic client work, and these are the ways that you can work with us.

Janine Coombes:

Yeah, yeah.

Janine Coombes:

Good point.

Janine Coombes:

Yeah.

Janine Coombes:

I hadn't really got that in my head.

Janine Coombes:

Um, exactly.

Janine Coombes:

Yeah.

Janine Coombes:

You can imagine there might be niches, let's use that word, within

Janine Coombes:

the commercial sector as well.

Jon Clayton:

Hmm.

Jon Clayton:

So

Janine Coombes:

Warehouse remodelling or something.

Jon Clayton:

on the, on the subject of niches then, we've talked a little bit

Jon Clayton:

about niching and some of the benefits.

Jon Clayton:

So are there any other benefits of niching that we haven't already covered,

Jon Clayton:

um, that are worth, worth sharing?

Janine Coombes:

I think, um, one of the benefits of niching, one of the

Janine Coombes:

almost side benefits, because the main benefit is you're going to cut through

Janine Coombes:

easier and you're going to be able to get easier, inverted commas, leads and

Janine Coombes:

arguably charge more, I think it just.

Janine Coombes:

It does have a halo effect once you've cracked it, it does have a momentum

Janine Coombes:

of itself and you will start getting those better quality referrals,

Janine Coombes:

people you'll be known for stuff.

Janine Coombes:

I think it's just a, a sort of a, yeah, your, your, the ball

Janine Coombes:

is rolling in your favour.

Janine Coombes:

Um, and it will allow you to say no to the smaller jobs.

Janine Coombes:

I don't know, I can imagine somebody specializing in smaller jobs, but if

Janine Coombes:

you, you know, the jobs that you find less desirable, they will crop up

Janine Coombes:

less and you'll have to say yes, less.

Janine Coombes:

To those less desirable jobs.

Janine Coombes:

It does focus your mind and you, you, when you get it right, it does click.

Janine Coombes:

You're like, ah, I found my groove and it, it does.

Janine Coombes:

It's good for your confidence.

Janine Coombes:

It's good for your marketing cut through.

Janine Coombes:

It's, it's like a halo effect hits all elements of your business.

Jon Clayton:

So if there's anyone who's struggling to price their, their

Jon Clayton:

architectural services, could you give a quick summary of what you'd recommend to

Jon Clayton:

do based on what we've talked about today?

Janine Coombes:

Ooh, if they're struggling are we talking about

Janine Coombes:

somebody a bit earlier on in their architectural business?

Jon Clayton:

Not, not necessarily, not necessarily.

Jon Clayton:

It could be somebody that's been, um, I mean, I've been doing it

Jon Clayton:

for a long, long time and, and.

Jon Clayton:

Even sometimes I question pricing and, and have struggles with it.

Jon Clayton:

So it could be somebody that's an established business owner.

Janine Coombes:

What I like doing sometimes for, for myself.

Janine Coombes:

And I know it's helpful for clients as well is sometimes you can almost

Janine Coombes:

what's the word, not taunt yourself, but you can say, look, look at what

Janine Coombes:

these other people are paying, uh, are charging and they're not going to do the

Janine Coombes:

detailed work that you're going to do.

Janine Coombes:

They're not going to care as much as you, they, they've got other costs

Janine Coombes:

built in, you know, Sometimes looking at what the slicker, bigger businesses

Janine Coombes:

are charging for things can give you confidence that you can charge more.

Janine Coombes:

So that's, that's something like practical that you can do.

Janine Coombes:

Um, I mean, a lot of it is experience.

Janine Coombes:

Charge.

Janine Coombes:

You know, when somebody bites your hand off that you've charged too little.

Jon Clayton:

Hmm.

Janine Coombes:

And gradually you learn to charge a bit more.

Janine Coombes:

Um, what, you know, the biggest tip, which we've already shared

Janine Coombes:

is, is placing the price in your own mind as much as the clients.

Janine Coombes:

If you can really associate the price, what you're charging with the benefit

Janine Coombes:

you're bringing to their life, that how will their life be afterwards?

Janine Coombes:

What have other clients said?

Janine Coombes:

After you've helped them remodel their house or, or, you know, in the,

Janine Coombes:

in the business context after you've created this, you know, knowing a

Janine Coombes:

hundred percent that it's safe and fit for purpose and whatever money

Janine Coombes:

you've managed to do for testimonials.

Janine Coombes:

If you managed to get some kind words after you've done a job, you know, it's

Janine Coombes:

so safe in your own mind that the price is, that's what they're paying for.

Janine Coombes:

Not your time, not the actual drawings that you're doing for them.

Janine Coombes:

That's.

Janine Coombes:

One of the best things you can do, but a lot of it is just iterations,

Janine Coombes:

you know, getting a bit bolder and, and you know, the next price

Janine Coombes:

put it up a bit and the next price put it next time, put it up a bit.

Jon Clayton:

I love that.

Jon Clayton:

That's a great tip.

Jon Clayton:

And we could even do that after every project, I suppose,

Jon Clayton:

just tweaking it upwards.

Janine Coombes:

Yeah.

Janine Coombes:

Yeah.

Janine Coombes:

I know quite a few people who every, every sale they get, they add on whatever

Janine Coombes:

it is, five, 10 percent and they've made another sale, they put on five, 10%.

Jon Clayton:

Brilliant.

Jon Clayton:

Um, Janine, is there anything else you wanted to say that we, we haven't

Jon Clayton:

covered in the conversation today?

Janine Coombes:

I feel like we've been very efficient.

Janine Coombes:

I feel like we've, we've covered pricing and proposals and niching and touched

Janine Coombes:

on sort of sales processes and things.

Janine Coombes:

I think, yeah, I can't think of anything off the top of my head.

Jon Clayton:

Brilliant.

Jon Clayton:

Well, we've, we've done a good job then.

Jon Clayton:

Before we kind of wrap everything up, um, I wanted to ask, I, I love travel and

Jon Clayton:

discovering new places and I was wondering if you could tell me one of your favorite

Jon Clayton:

places and what you love about it.

Janine Coombes:

Now, do you mean a building?

Jon Clayton:

Not necessarily, it can be a building or it could just be

Jon Clayton:

any place, anywhere in the world, down the end of your street, abroad,

Janine Coombes:

Oh, that's all right.

Janine Coombes:

Cause my, what springs to mind is down the end of my street.

Janine Coombes:

We moved to, we moved to this area a couple of years ago.

Janine Coombes:

Um, I'm now in North Hampshire and, um.

Janine Coombes:

One of the things I absolutely love about it is I can walk to

Janine Coombes:

Ludshott Common from my house.

Janine Coombes:

So, one of my favourite things to do on a weekend.

Janine Coombes:

Um, is get away from my family on my own and I walked through Ludshott

Janine Coombes:

Common and I go to this posh deli place with the, has a restaurant,

Janine Coombes:

but if I get there early, I can just have a nice cup of coffee on my own.

Janine Coombes:

And you know, the walking clears my mind and I have a little notebook

Janine Coombes:

and I write some notes down and you know, it could be anything.

Janine Coombes:

It could be journaling.

Janine Coombes:

It could be ideas for my business.

Janine Coombes:

It could be.

Janine Coombes:

Anything at all.

Janine Coombes:

And I walk back and it's lovely.

Janine Coombes:

That's one of my favorite, favorite places and favorite things to do at the moment.

Jon Clayton:

Oh, that sounds fantastic.

Jon Clayton:

I love that.

Jon Clayton:

Brilliant.

Jon Clayton:

So where can people go online to find out more about you, Janine?

Janine Coombes:

If they want to come and connect with me, LinkedIn is

Janine Coombes:

my favorite social media channel.

Janine Coombes:

So look up Janine Coombes at LinkedIn and don't be shy.

Janine Coombes:

Send me a connection request.

Janine Coombes:

If you just want, if you're just nosy and want to see what I'm all about,

Janine Coombes:

then go to janinecoombes.co.uk.

Jon Clayton:

Awesome.

Jon Clayton:

And can you remind everyone how to grab your free Charging More resource?

Janine Coombes:

Yes.

Janine Coombes:

So my, my, uh, freebie takes you through six steps to

Janine Coombes:

charging more with confidence.

Janine Coombes:

It's a great little resource, even if I do say so myself,

Janine Coombes:

and I can't remember the URL.

Janine Coombes:

Janinecoombes.co.uk/charge-dash-more-dash-workbook is it?

Jon Clayton:

I've got it here.

Jon Clayton:

It's janinecoombes.co.uk/charge-more-workbook.

Jon Clayton:

And I'll put, You got it right anyway.

Jon Clayton:

And I will put that in the show notes so that everybody can go and get that.

Jon Clayton:

Uh, absolutely.

Jon Clayton:

Go and go and grab that from Janine.

Jon Clayton:

It's a, it's a really good resource.

Jon Clayton:

So Janine just thanks ever so much for coming on the show.

Jon Clayton:

It's been great to chat with you today.

Janine Coombes:

Brilliant.

Janine Coombes:

Thank you so much, Jon.

Janine Coombes:

I've really enjoyed it.

Jon Clayton:

In the next episode, I chat with Chris Baxter.

Jon Clayton:

Founder of studio 11 architecture.

Jon Clayton:

You'll discover how business coaching transformed Chris's architectural

Jon Clayton:

practice and learned how coaching can have a profound impact, not just

Jon Clayton:

on your business, but also on your personal growth as a business owner.

Jon Clayton:

You won't want to miss it.

Jon Clayton:

Thanks so much for listening to this episode of Architecture Business Club.

Jon Clayton:

If you liked this episode, think other people might enjoy it.

Jon Clayton:

Or just want to show your support, then please visit podchaser.com.

Jon Clayton:

Search for Architecture Business Club and leave a glowing five-star review.

Jon Clayton:

It would mean so much to me and makes it easier for new

Jon Clayton:

listeners to discover the show.

Jon Clayton:

If you just want to connect with me, you can do that on most social media

Jon Clayton:

platforms, just search for @mrjonclayton.

Jon Clayton:

The best place to connect with me online though is on LinkedIn.

Jon Clayton:

You can find a link to my profile in the show notes.

Jon Clayton:

Remember running your architecture business doesn't have to be hard.

Jon Clayton:

And you don't need to do it alone.

Jon Clayton:

This is Architecture Business Club.

Show artwork for Architecture Business Club - For Architects, Architectural Technologists, Surveyors & Designers

About the Podcast

Architecture Business Club - For Architects, Architectural Technologists, Surveyors & Designers
Helping busy architecture professionals build a better business with actionable tips and tactics.
Architecture Business Club is the weekly podcast to help solo and small firm architecture business owners build a profitable, future-proof architecture practice that both you and your clients love! It’s an inclusive place (for ALL architecture business owners). So whether you’re an Architect, Architectural Technologist, or Architectural Designer…If you sell architectural services and want to improve the way you do things…This is THE podcast for you.

I’m Jon Clayton, your show host, and a Chartered Architectural Technologist based in the UK. I’ve been in architecture for over two decades and running my own (solo) practice for 10 years+.

Each week you’ll hear from inspiring people from the world of architecture and business who share actionable tips to help you improve how you work, save time, or make more money. I’ll also share my own experiences running an architecture business in occasional solo episodes. We cover everything from mindset, money, business strategy, sales & marketing, productivity, systems & workflows, client experience, outsourcing, software, technology, and much more.

Episodes are kept as short as possible by cutting out the fluff and getting straight to the point. So expect interview episodes of around 30 minutes or less, and solo episodes of 5 to 15 minutes.

New episodes are released every Thursday at 6am GMT / 2am EST.

Welcome to the Club!

About your host

Profile picture for Jon Clayton

Jon Clayton

I’m Jon. A Chartered Architectural Technologist and the founder of Architecture Business Club. I've been working in architecture for over two decades and running my own architectural design business for over ten of those years. My mission is to help you build a better architecture business on your terms. So if you're a sole practitioner (or small practice) architect, architectural technologist, or architectural designer, I want to help YOU. I'm a Northerner but now live with my family in Norfolk, UK. Outside of work, I'm a guitar tottin', kayaking, movie trivia buff.