I was thinking about a recent project that I missed out on. The reason they said was that I did not have an in house shaping crew. This approach is the most common methodology for new golf development, but is becoming a popular for renovation work too. It got me thinking about whether I should change my approach or not.
One of the things you will likely not know about me is the fact that my father is a biggest influence on how I run my own design business. He bought, sold and restructured businesses for other people. He mainly dealt with businesses that could not grow beyond their initial success. I remember him saying the key to being successful in business was being known for delivering high quality product, always on time, for a fair price. This created long term customers.
My father believed that it a company rushed out a new offering to diversify and it failed, this would undermine the original business. I have seen competitors reinvent themselves by offering more services. Their original reputation was excellent, but because their work is inferior to the experts in that industry their original business is facing questions of quality. If I add a shaper that in any way poorly represents me, I’ve hurt my business.
Many of my direct competitors offer or have gone to design / build. It’s clearly popular and I certainly appreciate the quality control that is developed from this arrangement. The fact that a contractor still finishes 95% of these projects points out it’s a question of in house versus contractor based shaping. I considered this arrangement, but that would change my business. I would need one US based shaper and another in Canada to meet the needs of my clientele, but this would undermine some great relationships with contractors where I do get their best people. And more importantly I would have to take on more work which reduces my ability to be selective.
Most of my contemporaries suffer from the ups and downs in the market. I have no overhead, so while I face ripples many of them face waves. My method means I’m not ever forced to take on anything for financial reasons. I’m never overbooked. I service my clients right away. While I’m sure this removes some opportunities and leaves some income on the table, I find my clients to be loyal to me. Because of this I'm never forced to take work I don't want..The choice not to go to design / build might hurt my business opportunities. But it won’t stop them from coming in either. I'm recommended by contractors, historians, agronomists, irrigation designers and even other architects. I'm in a good place.
I thought about making changes for a while this winter, but in the end I know my father would have recommended staying the course you're on. It's already exceeded your expectations, so be patient and it will do so again in the future.