Who Owns the Plans?
Consider the definition of Design/Build. In a true Design/Build situation, the purpose of the plans is to facilitate construction. Otherwise, there is no purpose for offering design unless you are offering design as a separate service. If that is the case, then it is not design/build. In true design/build, because the purpose of creating the plans is so the Design/Builder can build from them, the client is not entitled to the plans unless they commit to construction with the Design/Builder.
The above may upset some. Perhaps consider if you are a Design/Builder with a Design/Build Business, or you are a Remodeler who sometimes offers Design/Build as a service.
A Way of Doing Business
In most cases, doing the design before you get a commitment from your clients for the build puts you into a bidding situation, something most Design/Builders seek to avoid. It’s also the reason many business owners give me for getting into true Design/Build to begin with; to get out of the “bidding game”. These businesses become “Design/Build Businesses”. They have chosen a niche to concentrate on and to build a brand around. Deviating from the process weakens or changes the brand.
A Different Sales Style
If you are committed to the marriage of design and build as one process, typically the greatest challenge or change will be a new or different sales approach. Convincing the client to select your company, give up the three bid option, and pay for a design and plans they will not necessarily get to keep unless they go forward with your company, requires a mind set and sales skills most salespeople do not possess. If you wouldn’t consider or commit to a Design/Build process for renovations at your home, you will probably have a hard time selling the concept to others. Selling it requires believing in it.
Keep in mind that as a consideration for success within this definition of Design/Build, the process is for those clients who can make decisions and will stick to them. They can’t change their minds during the process and seek bids using the Design/Builder’s plans. Clarifying and sticking to this is the responsibility of the salesperson and should be clearly explain during the initial sales call as well as in your Design/Build Agreement.
Don’t get mad at me
The process described above is not for every contractor and it’s not for every client. I am not suggesting using any other process is wrong; not at all. It’s still a free country and you can do business any way you want, as long as you operate legally. I am saying that if you separate the two processes don’t tell consumers that you are a “Design/Build Business”. Maybe yours is a remodeling business that offers both design/build and the traditional design/bid process. That is a good business model, too. Explain the difference and give your prospects the option to choose one or the other.
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