Imhotep really values authenticity, both in our completed works and in our process, and our inclination is to work in a way that is completely transparent. We’ve written about building client relationships before, and trust is the most important factor in achieving this. Trust feels especially key in any conversations with clients about their budget.
We’ve found that it’s easier when everyone involved is honest and upfront about their capabilities and limitations, so that there’s less of the back and forth negotiations that can lead to inefficiencies and distrust. Unfortunately, there is a common perception of the construction industry that every project will overrun the given budget by a significant amount. There are a number of factors that can contribute to this: underestimation of the project scope, a disconnect between the design and the building phase, poor project management, etc. The bidding process also puts companies in direct competition with another, creating pressure to submit the lowest budget they can reasonably get away with. Because of this, clients tend to initiate budget conversations by offering an amount below what they can, or even expect they can actually afford.
Our process functions in a way that we’re able to eliminate the aforementioned problems and inefficiencies that cause overruns. We would much rather have the real budget so we can know exactly what we can deliver to our clients without having to backtrack. Our goal, above all else, is to give our clients everything they need for the space, strategically incorporating beautiful and functional elements that will have the highest impact at a reasonable cost. We usually are able to work in this way, especially with small businesses. But we’ve found that clients seeking larger-scale work are used to the back and forth that is the standard in this industry. Thus, we’ve had some difficulty in explaining how our process differs in a way that is convincing, given that it is so outside of the norm.
We’ve considered “playing the game” and bidding the same way as our competitors, but for us, that would mean changing our process. That in itself is not a problem, but changing our process would mean changing who we are as a company, and that’s not a concession we’re willing to make. The challenge, then, is to figure out how to communicate our approach in a way that is believable given the industry we’re working within. Here in Vermont, we see that people appreciate the honesty that we bring to the process. And for us to convince others of that, we have to trust it ourselves; that potential clients will see that authenticity, and value it enough to want to work with us.