The Importance of Building Relationships

In the architecture and design industry, trust is of utmost importance. One person invests thousands —sometimes millions— of dollars into the creation of a building or the redesign of a space. Without trust, these projects, and the business, would crumble. However, there is more to it than simply trusting your business partner or your client. Sometimes, the development of a friendship can lend itself useful for your future.

A great example would be the relationship that has formed between Curran Project Manager, David Wagner, and long-time client, Firehouse Subs. We spoke with David about his experiences and why he believes it’s important to bridge the barrier between work and friendship.

How did you become involved with Firehouse Subs?
In 2001, Shawn received a call from a franchise wanting to open a location in the Cincinnati market based on a recommendation from a franchise in the area we had worked with previously. Shawn reviewed the project with me and from that point forward, I handled all of the Firehouse Subs in our office.

The first Firehouse Subs project was completed in 2010.

Were you excited to work on the project? Why?
Yes, it seemed like a good opportunity to work with a growing brand in an economic climate still reeling from the recession in 2008. I knew it would be important to cement a good relationship in order to secure additional work in a time when it was scarce.

Once the project was completed, how did you continue to foster the relationship?
I continued to stay in contact with the franchise owners as well as the corporate area developers by periodically calling or emailing to ask about the success of the business once the locations were opened.

Why did you find it important to maintain your relationship with them, even after the work was done?
Keeping the lines of communication after construction is complete allows us to learn how our clients operate within their new spaces, so we can implement new designers on future projects to help them function more efficiently. It also gives them a sense of personal attention, which is typically a factor in word of mouth recommendations.

How did these business relationships turn into more friendly, loyal connections?
We had the opportunity to attend a corporate retreat and set up a booth to advertise our services to all of the franchises in attendance. This allowed us to put a face to the name of past clients as well as meet potential clients. Using that opportunity to make connections really benefitted our relationships.

What is one of your favorite parts about having friendly relationships with a client?
Knowing that I played a small part in someone else’s success is satisfying.  Our clients put a lot on the line, both emotionally and financially, when opening a business.  They often put their life savings into their projects and turn their new business into their family’s livelihood.

What advice would you give other businesses about creating lasting relationships?
I would recommend that people simply be kind.  Be courteous. Have a sense of urgency about helping your clients. Helping clients find solutions and be successful is the best possible way to maintain a strong relationship.

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