Yesterday evening, as every Wednesday night, the ArCHexComm gathered together virtually, via Skype video conference.
Only this time something was different. ArCH has a new member from “Down Under”: Dion Seminara, ArCH, Architect from Morningside, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Dion’s firm: DS Architecture creates amazing high-end multi-million dollar custom residential projects in the greater Queensland area.
Topics discussed at yesterday’s video conference included:
ArCHdes™, Global Economy, Keeping Clients advancing their projects, as well as staffing securement/testing/retention/ownership transition.
In brief, here are some highlights of these conversations with this global perspective:
ArCH has 10 firms (worldwide) with 18 projects so far participating. Anyone who would like to “squeak in the back door” will be allowed to submit their fees up to and including on the day the project submittals are due: 3/9/2016.
Global Economy and its Impact on Residential Architecture
The USA is in a current upward trend, which bodes well for ArCH’s members across the USA. However, we have been sheltered from other matters in a global context. For instance, Dion Seminara, ArCH, QLD, Australia, said that there is a GFC (Global Finanical Crisis) happening right now as far as Australia’s economy is concerned which has created a downturn in that region of the planet. Dion said that Australia has been, to some degree, dependent on a healthy Asian marketplace and the current downturn in China has negatively impacted Australia. He also said that Resources (mining, especially) has fallen back, slowing construction, as that country is heavily dependent on mining operations to grow that economy. Not many American Architects are aware of these matters, which could end up impacting the rest of the planet at some point. We are not an island, financially any more; everything is connected. In other words: prepare for a possible downturn: save, perhaps put expansion plans on hold for a while and be fiscally conservative in general. Now is probably a good time to try to engage as many new projects as possible so that your firms will have a substantial workload onboard, should the future hold some period of lagging that could make obtaining future projects more difficult.
Architectural Staffing/Transitioning Ownership
Considerable time was spent discussing the vetting process for new staff at architectural firms. Mr. Seminara reviewed his firm’s 8-Step review procedures for possible new employees, which included:
1. Skill review
2. Responsiveness/Relevancy Ability: emailing multiple questions every day (prior to in interview) to observe candidate’s timely & prompt responsiveness as well and appropriateness in terms of answering the questions posed. This also includes observing the candidate’s composition, vocabulary, grammar and punctuation skills, which can be very telling as to how they will represent your firm and respond to you.
4. Personality Test
5. 3 month temporary contract employment, possibly extended to 12 month probation.
6. Capability Test (3 to 4 hours)
Includes, design, detailing, various multi-tasking skillsets.
7.Maturity Level of staff
Seeking often older, more experienced staff that can hit the ground running rather having to be trained, and that are serious about their work and that want a job for the long-term.
8. Job Description
Questions: “I am good at_________________” .
To help them determine whether they can multi-task or excel at particular skills.
Other issues discussed involved methods of company ownership transition: in other words: if you presently own your company, how you can obtain a health sales price of your company, giving you a retirement nestegg and continuation of your firm, after you retire. Rodney Kazenske, ArCH, NCARB, Denver, Colorado, USA, said that his firm is in the process of documenting their procedures for everything, so it is written in online manuals, accessible to all employees, about the steps involved to accomplish just about any process in the firm. Don Duffy, ArCH, AIA, Charlotte, North Carolina has previously mentioned how his firm is also in the process of documenting their company’s Quality Control procedures.
Message to us all: if you intend to sell or pass on your company or in any way hope to see it continue, you may want to start documenting how you do things. Put in on your computer server and give all staff members access to this information so that everyone knows what to do, like you do.
So, in summary: ArCH is discovering, first hand, that we, as Licensed Residential Architects around the planet, all have similar issues to deal with each day in our professions and the sharing of our professional lives together creates a wealth of rich experience from which we can draw valuable information to help us all in our practices, anywhere on the planet. ArCH takes the pulse of residential architecture every week through direct discussions with our members around the globe.
ArCH: Licensed Residential Architects Connected Around the World