In a few short days, Cherise and I will once again jump on a plane and converge on a new locale to spread the Let’s Fix Construction message. A new conference, and with that, a new audience, awaits in Anaheim at the AEC Next Technology Expo & Conference to hear a little about the who and a little more about the why behind what we’re doing.
With LFC being founded steeply in our Construction Specifications Institute roots and beliefs, much of the message of LFC and CSI remains in our closed loop circles if we do not do our part in getting in touch with the onlookers and informing new individuals about the who, the what and the why in 2019 and beyond.
These continued opportunities will never cease to amaze me. Cherise and I go into each one grateful for the chance to spread the message of Let’s Fix Construction and to perhaps spark an AHA! moment for even one of our attendees. For I truly believe that it only takes one person to walk away from one of our workshops to know that we’ve done our part. One person to tell us after attendance that they could feel our passion for what we’re doing. One person to say that they got more out of one session than a year of box lunches.
And Cherise and I are just two voices for Let’s Fix Construction. With our Speed Mentoring session in Anaheim, Let’s Fix Construction becomes dozens of voices, encompassing hundreds of years of construction experience, which will be conveyed to dozens more new receptors of our message and mission.
The AEC industry is undergoing monumental change and culture shifts and the next twenty years are vital to not only our future, but our children’s, grandchildren’s and great grandchildren's future. It’s important for all of us to continue to spread our knowledge and experience, and personally for Cherise and me, our mission and our passion that we deploy within Let’s Fix Construction.
You may not have the opportunity to join us in Anaheim at AEC Next, but there will be other chances. We’re always listening and open for new formats to offer creative solutions, separate myths from facts and erase misconceptions about the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry.
The AEC community needs more people like Michael Riscica.
Michael is a Licensed Architect who once resided in Portland, Oregon, with his Labrador Retriever, Molly. And to say he is passionate about helping Young Architects is an understatement. After becoming licensed, Michael was frustrated by the lack of support, bad advice and misinformation he had during the years between graduating architecture school and becoming a licensed Architect. In early 2014 he began blogging at YoungArchitect.com to address that problem.
A few years back, Michael sold most of his personal belongings, bought himself a van, packed up Molly and only what he needed and literally took Young Architect on the road. Rarely in one place for long, you can typically find Michael speaking to aspiring designers somewhere. In five years, he has assembled a massive following of future leaders in the architecture industry through presentations, persistence, and passion.
Cherise and I were fortunate enough to meet Michael a handful of years ago and we immediately saw a kindred spirit, an individual who was not happy with the status quo in AEC and set out to make a change.
Recently, Michael announced the first ever Young Architect Conference, which will be held over three days, August 23rd to the 25th in Portland, Oregon. The mission for the Young Architect Conference is to explore leadership, connection, and service within architecture. All keynotes, workshops, parties, and everything related to this conference will connect back to these three themes in some way, shape or form.
Here is the proposed agenda:
Let's Fix Construction is honored to be friends with Michael and involved with the Conference, as Cherise will be leading the session 'Public Speaking in Architecture'. We're also a hand-selected affiliate of the Young Architect Conference. What does that mean, exactly? That means, you, as part of our community, can register to attend and save $$$. You have one month to use the code LFC for $150 off of your registration.
Please take two minutes to view this message below from Michael and then visit the Young Architect Conference website for details, registration and more.
Contributed by Michael Chambers
I recently had the opportunity to discuss specification marketing strategies with a former publisher of a national architecture magazine. I mentioned that a very powerful strategy was to ensure that the appropriate competitors are named in manufacturers guide specifications. A look of abject horror greeted that remark which, of course, caused me to launch into a primer on specification marketing to design professionals.
Additionally, there has been a significant discussion on 4Specs.com about what specifiers want in manufacturers guide specifications. Interestingly, naming appropriate competitors was mentioned numerous times.
Specification marketing is second only to continuing education presentations as the most effective branding and marketing tool for construction product manufacturers. A product representative must be a good educator and highly knowledgeable about specifications to be truly effective with design professionals.
While the industry understands competitive advantage in terms of faster, better, or cheaper, a product representative's competitive advantage lies in the following 3 critical elements:
It is critical for specifiers and designers to understand how not to use or apply a product or system. This may seem a bit counter-intuitive but it is not. Many, if not most, product failures begin with the designers and specifiers not understanding how to appropriately use and apply a product or system. More than anything else help specifiers avoid mistakes.
Every competent manufacturer and product representative intimately knows and understands who the competition is and how their products and systems stack up. Share that information with designers and specifiers and instantly you become the go-to expert and resource.
Sole source specifications are a powerful magnet for substitutions. Make certain that specifiers and designers clearly understand why you are suggesting competitive products and why you consider them equivalent. Remember, there is no such thing as “equal” products, just equivalent.
Offering specifiers a list of equivalent products allows product representatives to level the playing field and narrow the competitive arena. Be careful to ensure that appropriate competitors are named or your reputation may be damaged.
Solutions NOT Products
The final, and arguably, most important element of competitive advantage is the product representative=s relationship with designers and specifiers. Provide solutions not products. Sell yourself, your expertise, your industry knowledge not your products.
Whenever possible, request a copy of the specification and offer to review and comment on project specific information. Any specifier worth their salt will provide project specifications for review. This is a significant opportunity to expand relationship, build credibility, and find out what the specifiers knows about your product.
In the final analysis, what a manufacturer may reasonably expect from a specifier is a well-crafted specification that lists the appropriate competitors. Who better to help the specifier accomplish that task that a knowledgeable product representative?
Protect your competitive advantage by supporting specifiers in producing complete specifications that contain appropriate requirements and truly equivalent manufacturers and products.
(Editor's Note: Michael D. Chambers, FCSI, FAIA, CCS is Associate Vice President and Senior Project Specifier for HGA and is responsible for the specifications in the four California offices and is principal of MCA Specifications. Michael also sits on the CONSTRUCT Education Advisory Council with Let's Fix Construction Co-Founders, Cherise Lakeside and Eric D. Lussier.
NEW FOR CONSTRUCT IN 2019!
The NEW Product Rep University Program has been designed to meet the needs of Manufacturer's Representatives of Architectural Building Products, as integral members of the project team. The program features a full day of education (6 sessions) to help you stay up to date on current trends in the industry, and refine your interactions and relationships with design professionals. Get additional details on the Product Rep University here: https://www.constructshow.com/en/education/ProductRepUniversity.html
CONSTRUCT will be held October 9 - 11, 2019 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, MD. Details and registration will be opening soon. Read more on CONSTRUCT here. )
I'm knee deep in a project right now that I'll call it what it really is: bailing the Owner out. Know what you get when you don't create bidding documents and rely solely on a low price? You get what you get. And if I say that phrase aloud in front of my 5 and 8-year-old, they add "and you don't pitch a fit".
Well, when one doesn't create an RFP, not to mention any sort of construction specification or drawing, how can one hold any level of expectation about their finished product? This Owner bought off a non-descriptive proposal and carried what matters most in the construction industry too much of the time: the lowest price.
I don't have the time, the space, nor the want, to fully go down the road of the low-bid scenario. I will call it as I see it as a subcontractor: it's the short end of the stick. And yet it is still the "solution" for the most popular project delivery method in the construction industry today: design-bid-build.
Let us Cliffs Notes design-bid-build within a tweet's 280-character limit:
Owner has vision. Owner works with architect on design for vision. Architect develops schematics. Fine tunes. Vision formalized. Architect develops formal drawings & specifications for GC. Duration? Years? GC gets days to decipher vision. End result? Be cheapest.
But that's simplifying things, you say. Sure, that may be. But in a nutshell, that's the process.
One of the frustrating things about working with designers and developing specifications is becoming the basis of design, or an approved equal, only to be just breaking the sweat of the marathon race. Once you're named in a spec, you now must win the spec. And how do you ultimately win the spec? Match it and be the cheapest and ultimately, hope. Hope? Sure. Hope your price lands in the lap of the estimator in time. Hope they have time to read it. Hope they pick up what you're putting down. Hope they want to work with you. Hope you meet their qualifications to work together. Hope you can meet your estimate and make goal profit margin. Hope it all goes to plan. Hope you get paid in full in a timely fashion.
Contributed by Brent Williams
Recently I had the pleasure of networking with a rising leader of one of the largest CSI Chapters in the country. He, like many rising professionals, is trying to juggle the varied elements of a career, family and the responsibilities of leading a group of professionals in an increasingly demanding business world. Just like a lot of the leaders that I speak with, he’s suffering a significant amount of burnout. He wants to succeed at everything, he cares and he’s trying, but he feels like he’s fighting a losing battle. And while he’s a member of my professional association, he could be a member of just about any member-based association in today’s economy.
This particular leader is burning out for a number of reasons. He’s stressed, overworked, and because the team that surrounds him isn’t engaged and involved, he’s trying to do all the heavy lifting himself. Some of his team are on the way out early - they just can’t balance the demands. His team isn’t engaged because the previous leaders weren’t engaged and enrolled in the vision, primarily because leaders before them hadn’t created or clearly defined the long-term plan. Those leaders were likely failed because of the changes that were brought on by the economic downturn, such as fewer training opportunities, less availability from national staff and less guidance from more experienced members, because they, like many of us, struggle with the very same time demand issues.
In offering him some experience sharing, I explained that the two best tool sets that a Chapter leader can deploy are credit reversal and long-term strategy. While these two tools are powerful in an association setting, they also are impactful in business and parenting, where the ability to help others learn to lead is paramount.
Let me explain.
We all, know as leaders, that running a chapter is tough, but not the hardest thing that we’ve ever done. Things can go wrong, but those things are rarely “big and hairy”. Experience comes in really handy here, for newer folks are afraid to take initiative and lead out of the fear that “something might go wrong”. This isn’t just a problem for association groups, businesses are struggling under the weight of younger hires who are terrified to “make a mistake” in the eyes of the boss. There is no single more powerful business leadership technique than the following simple skill.
Let's Fix Construction is an avenue to offer creative solutions, separate myths from facts and erase misconceptions about the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry.
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