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Welcome to the proactive of Residential Architecture. The only rules are the ones the client set and reset.
Just keep positive communication going both way. I find it best to work at the client level. Each one brings their own level of understanding. Not unlike children,
Do not punish yourself when punishing the client.
Just like children, some clients are easy and some are very difficult. You have to embrace the variety. Bring patience to the job. You will often be the calming voice of reason when the builder and owner are at each other.
No wisdom from me. other than trying to create office standards to manage client is not where I would spend my time.
a schedule is fine but will not hold. It's good to have plan, but plans have to be flexible as they will not hold.
There is too much life to get in the way. A good time to return calls and email is after 6:00 when your client is home and not distracted by their work day. Most of my clients do not want emails at work. It depends on if their name is on the sing out front or the door.
Best of luck managing your clients.
The ArCH AOA (Architect-Owner Agreement)
has a paragraph that is COMMUNCATIONS and in it, the Architect and Owner discuss how often and by what means the Client would like the Architect to contact or update them. Choices include: daily, weekly, monthly, or when the Architect deems it appropriate (what Clients often select). However, it also indicates that the Client may contact the Architect whenever they wish. But what this does, is establish a contractual basis for when and how the Architect contacts the Owner, so there is no misunderstanding later.
However, your question also calls into action something all Architects should do: keep an electronic record of all emails with Clients, and if you had a phone call, make a "Telecon Record" into an email and send that to the Client, so that there is a written (typed) record of all discussions. That way, if the Client indicates later that this what never discussed, you can resend the contact record. But be careful how you do that.
E.G: "Here's a copy of our discussion from 4 months, ago, Fred, I know that's been a while ago, so it's understandable that anyone might need to see this again, as we are all making a lot of decisions to advance the project. Please let me know if you have any questions; thanks."
And if a Client wants to change their mind and you are hourly, that's fine. However, if you have a fixed fee, you're going to have to have a heart to heart discussion, making the Client aware that they're going to need to now pay for your backtracking on a path they previously approved. Those are the discussions that are the toughest. Having a good record-keeping system will be your best support to tackle those issues.
Rand Soellner Architect ArCH /NCARB /LHI /MA Arch
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Rand@HomeArchitects.com | www.HomeArchitects.com
Home Architect,PLLC NC9266/52666 SC6793 FLAR9264 WA9798 TN105028