Hi Team,

DDB is in the "client pleasing business" and everything we do is aimed at meeting or exceeding the client’s expectations. To explore this topic today's email follows on from two weeks ago and the discussion about the challenges of working in creative occupations. This email will concentrate again on the architect Frank Gehry’s insights into the specific challenges of working with clients. The DDB Management Team faces similar challenges with clients on our building projects on a daily basis.

Clients are an integral part of the design and construction process and each client has their own level of experience, understanding and expectations. Gehry's main piece of advice about working with clients is, 
"be the parent in the relationship", in other words, be firm but fair and always control the dialogue (I love this advice!).

My favourite quote about clients, comes from the American screen writer and director Aaron Sorkin ,
(The West Wing, A Few Good Men, The Social network etc),
 "I guarantee whoever said; the client is always right, was definitely a client."

Frank Gehry's key insights about working with clients are as follows.

  • Architecture/building is a very human business, and every client is different with their own unique set of challenges.
  • It is very important to get to know your clients and to understand the nuances of their families and their lives. Always show your clients that you care about them and their requirements, (the most important words to use with clients are, "what do you think?").
  • Successfully working with clients is all about being able to roll with the punches and not to get bogged down in the small less important stuff.
  • Be honest and up front about the budget. (90% of all projects that go off the rails are because of budget blow outs.)
  • Managing the budget is all about the "buildability" of the project.
  • "Your most unhappy clients are your greatest source of learning" Always welcome and listen to their feedback.
  • Know when to say No to a client that is not the right fit for you or your business.

"Assumptions are the termites of relationships" Henry Winkler

Thanks for reading,
Stay safe and be nice to your clients.

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