Small Firm Exchange (SFx)

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Who We Are

The mission of the AIA Small Firm Exchange (SFx) is to advance the mutual interests of architects practicing in small firms. The objectives of the AIA SFx are three-fold:

     1. Advocate the value of small firms, the national SFx, and local
         SFx groups, both within the AIA and to the public.
     2. Curate and disseminate the most pertinent resources and
         information, from the AIA & elsewhere, that benefit small firms.

     3. Inform the AIA of current issues facing small firms and areas
         in which current resources/information are lacking.


Approximately 75% of all firms within the AIA are small firms (10 employees or less), which equates to 14,288 small firms within the organization. 

~25% = sole practitioners = 4,750

~35% = 1-5 employees = 6,650

~15% = 5-10 employees = 2,850

We need to find ways to leverage that size for collaboration and influence, just like the individual large firms do.

Be sure to "Join our Community" !  This will ensure that you're a part of our mailing list and receive our quarterly newsletter and important small firm information.

SFx All-Call resources for small firms

By Bruce T. Fallon AIA posted 16 days ago

  

Each month the SFx Board and SFx State Representatives meet virtually to learn about resources available to help small firms improve their practices. The summaries below describe the topics discussed along with any resources that could be helpful to you in running your firm.

To get more information, contact your SFx State Representative.

 

January 2022

On our first call of the year, the AIA Trust shared resources available for small firms.

  • Insurance options including life, liability, business owner, cyber liability, disability, auto, home, healthcare, long term care, travel and pet health insurance.
  • AIA Trust Legal Network where you can find an A/E attorney by state. The Practice Coach service provides a subscription service to access legal professionals to manage risks and minimize claims.
  • Retirement Planning
  • AIA Trust Newsletter
  • Resources for starting and running a firm

Learn more: https://theaiatrust.com

 

February 2022

AIA General Counsel, Terry Ona, Esq., to answered questions on anti-trust law and its relationship to the AIA and practice of architecture.  He reviewed the following:

  • Applicable anti-trust law
  • A History of AIA antitrust cases
  • A review of current AIA anti-trust compliance efforts

This was discussed as an SFx Board and SFx State Representative group to guide our discussion during the year, but it also applies to conversations between competitors.

Learn more: https://www.aia.org/pages/3316-antitrust-compliance

 

March 2022

In March, we held our first roundtable discussion on how to grow our firms including the topics:

  • What is the role of firm culture in growing your firm?
  • How does your firm organization change as you grow?
  • Hiring, Training & Retaining Staff
  • What resources have you used to help establish or grow your firm?

Dana Ellis, AIA - SFx Board Member - shared some resources that she used in establishing her firm.  Read the article “My Startup Firm Story: The Outpost Studio” to see what resources she took advantage of.

 

April 2022

This month’s topic was a follow-up to some work done at the SFx Annual Meeting around the involvement of small firms in the 2030 Commitment.  At the annual meeting, we discussed the barriers to small firms getting signed on to the Commitment.  Some of the concerns discussed include:

  • Perceptions of the time commitment needed to enter the required DDx information.
  • Overall ability to allocate the resources needed to participate in the challenge.
  • Struggles of clients interested in pursuing sustainable buildings

What has your experience been with the 2030 Commitment?  Any resources that can be shared with other small firms to better embrace sustainability? Please let us know!

For more information, visit:  The AIA 2030 Commitment

 

May 2022

May’s topic was a discussion with the AIA Contract Documents Group.

  • How can small firms better utilize AIA contracts? We expressed to our guests that having templates for simpler agreements based on AIA contracts would be helpful. There are different sized documents depending on the complexity of the project.
  • Feedback given included needing state specific amendments and that for some clients the standard documents are too complicated. This may require working with an attorney to meet these needs.

What feedback and help do you need with contracts? Let your state rep know and we’ll see how we can help.

For additional information, check out the AIA Contract Documents page.

 

June 2022

In June, we met with Arlen Solochek, FAIA from the AIA Project Delivery Knowledge Community. We discussed the different ways projects are delivered as small firms.

  • Design-bid-build is still used on a lot of small firm projects. 
  • CM-at-Risk is becoming used more and more and provides some value to small firms as long as reviews by the CM and feedback during design phases are provided to the design team, including cost estimates. Some have had great experiences.
  • Concern was expressed that the CM-at-Risk process gets around the bid process.
  • An interest in Design-Build was also discussed.

Learn more: https://www.aia.org/pages/6202686-project-delivery-resources

Learn more: June 2022 Practice Management Digest

 

Looking Forward

The following topics are planned for the 3rd Quarter of 2022:

July:  Small Project Design

Aug:  Improving Conference Education and Networking Opportunities

Sept: Technology Roundtable

Are there areas of practice you would like help with to improve what you do?  Reach out to your state representative and let them know!

 

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