A member has written into WCPGW about a client wanting far too many meetings and asks what to do about it.
Dear What Could Possibly,
I’m doing a new house for a client who is finding it a bit too hard to make decisions on the proposals that I’m putting forward and wants to keep on meeting, it is starting to drive me crazy. What’s the best way of getting out of this?
Dear ArchiTeam Member,
For some people too many meetings are barely enough, they need help, and we must help them by gently directing them to make some good decisions, procrastination cannot be indulged. However, this can be easier said than done.
As their architect our clients look to us to successfully take them through the process but in doing so we can’t take on their responsibility, which is to issue us with clear instructions. Our problem at times can be getting them to do it. It starts with us being in charge.
I must disclose now that I love a good meeting and really look forward to them. It’s the time to discuss my list of things that need to be done, usually by others at the meeting. This is the time to present, explain, direct, question, work through the ‘what can get us’ issues and best of all – delegate. This includes clients and all consultants. It’s a great feeling to move stuff from my side of the desk to someone else’s. The architect’s job includes a lot of thinking of things for other people to do. To do this effectively it is important to be in charge and know what you want from the meeting. Agendas and outcomes; be clear about what needs to be resolved. To achieve this, most of your work for the meeting will be done beforehand, and may include a pre-meeting meeting or two. Did I say I love meetings?
Most clients are very aware of costs to them, less so for costs to you in running more or longer meetings. In your fee proposal you must always include a program that clearly sets out the number of meetings allowed for in each stage of your services and when they will be held. Time is a cost and it is essential to have a meeting that achieves things within a set time. It is important that the client understands that any meetings that are required beyond those in your fee proposal will be invoiced at the hourly rate. This will help them in being able to focus on their project.
The structure of the meeting is important. If there is to be any level of unpleasantness, especially if it includes your side of the desk, always lead with this. It is usually one of the more important matters, so best to give it the time now so you don’t run out later. Also, getting it out of the way early allows the opportunity to finish on the more positive parts of the project and hopefully on a high note.
I asked an ArchiTeam peer support architect what advice they could offer you in your current circumstances. They said that if it is just not working out with your client after a number of meetings, and you feel that things are going around in circles, it’s probably best for all concerned that you consider ‘withdrawing gracefully’ ensuring that you leave every ones dignity intact and go looking for another project and let client look for another architect. It’s another aspect of being in charge.