Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2011 Cherished, Tarnished, and Things left unsaid

As I begin the archival process and move jobs to their 'year end' spot/backup, I can't help but to reflect on some pretty great and awful moments of the last year:

THE GOOD (when I felt validated, as a Professional)
1.  "Your vision is now coming to light...thanks for all you've done..." Background: Client was advised that cold weather could damage new materials, they pushed forward/experienced a setback, but this was received during the beginning of the 2011 growing season in Southwest Florida.
2.  (me) "So 'what' do you think I am?  Architect, Interior Designer, or Landscape Architect?" (student response) "I don't know...Architect"  
After an in-depth discussion of spatial use, program, green tech, and universal design.  The follow up then dealt with these three professions, our like training, and key goals to a Designer...absolutely nothing to do with plants.
3.  "I just wanted to thank you...for a thoughtful and workable plan...the Contractor is wonderful to work with..."
Background:  Literally, this came via voicemail and directly followed a meeting for the Construction documents and recommendation of a landscape contractor, who was originally 'negated' by the general contractor.
Reaction to a "Before" photo and "After"/Visualization produced via CAD->3D Modeling->PS overlay...for a local governmental agency.
5.  A hug.
When I came to a home to inspect the final installation and cross-reference the installation with the construction documents...yep, folks, even though I offer Design Services, when this type of personal greeting is received, it's tough not to do a cartwheel, on the spot!

THE BAD (when I was sure a change in Profession was needed!?)
1.  "Your fee is 34% higher than..."
When a prospective Client reviewed a proposal for an entitlement (zoning change) set of documents...and compare our Services to a residential designer.
2.  "Everything looks great, but I don't think we're ready to move forward..."
Yikes, after countless billable hours were spent in summarizing cost provisions, steps for permitting/approval, and even gratis elements were produced, as part of a design-build team.
3.  I'm provided plans created in MS Excel at the first meeting-"here's what I think."
The 'no response' validated the Owner's unfamiliarity with the process and doesn't need me to create scaled-documents, prepare a package for presentation, nor go before three governing boards to gain approvals.

Of course, this yields:
THINGS LEFT UNSAID (I remain Professional, so I can't really respond to "THE BAD" in the way I would like...right!?.anyway, here are some uncensored ideas)
1. "No problem. In the end you're likely to have an amazing experience, whether paying additions for change orders/revisions, or your project will be delayed due to a business model based upon volume and/or inexperience. I'm sure the bank will understand best, when the project milestones are reached, and you meet with them regarding your pro forma..."

2. "Thank you! Not a problem - I was just sitting here."

3. "Cool. Mere child's play...Nah, they'll accept your cartoons, seriously, they will...after all, who cares about the health, safety, and welfare of the Public? Not your insurance company...and I'm sure you'd ask a local mechanic to work on your Lamborghini LP700-4 - seems reasonable enough..."

In the end, 2011 seems the year of the sputter, from quick turnarounds to 'false starts,' unbelievable times of being busy, to 'signed up' by folks who signed an Agreement but never submitted the required retainer to move forward.  In business, the 'weeding' seems fairly consistent, when compared to last year; however, the overall trend is more savvy and consistently great clientele have contacted us.  Several local businesses also referred work to us and continue to do so, a great sign/taking that as 'we're doing something right.'  Several designs are now under construction and few more are on-the-boards; thus, I am encouraged by the economy ahead, unlike the lull from mid-summer.  I do wish to thank each-and-every Client who made this year a success and those who encouraged me along the way!

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