Tags: peter twohysole practitioner
Episode 092

Strategies for Running a Successful Residential Architecture Practice with Peter Twohy – Part 1

Enoch SearsFeb 2, 2015

Peter Twohy is the principal and owner of 2e Architects based out of Baltimore, Maryland. In today's show Peter Twohy shares his best strategies for running a successful residential architecture practice.

In today's episode you'll discover:

  • A clever strategy for starting an architecture firm if you have no money and no clients.
  • The marketing strategy that has brought Peter some of his best clients and projects.
  • Peter's simple but effective email marketing strategy.

The 2e Architects Home Show booth:
2e Architects Home Show Booth
The 2e Architects office:
Peter Twohy Architect Ikea Countertop
Peter Twohy Architect Office

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Show Notes:

Interview Transcript and Members Only Resources:

[DAP errMsgTemplate=”SHORT”]
Enoch: Hello and welcome back, Architect Nation. I am your host Enoch Sears. This is the show where we’re going to sit down and we’re going to talk about strategies, tips, and secrets for running a profitable, successful, and more importantly, impactful architecture practice.

Generous support for today’s show is provided by BQE Software, the makers of ArchiOffice.

ArchiOffice is the office and project management software built specifically for architects. Actually, it’s more affordable than you think. I was just given notice this past year that they now offer a low monthly rate that won’t break the bank specially for small practitioners.

In addition to that, for a limited time only, ArchiOffice is offering up to two seats of the software absolutely free for a full year to start up firms, which is pretty cool. So, you can go check that out at http://www.ArchiOffice.com.

Today’s guest is architect Peter Twohy. Peter’s been an acquaintance, a friend of mine for a while. He’s the owner and Principal of Twohy Architects based out of Baltimore, Maryland. This coming April 1st will mark ten years in business as a sole practitioner, right there on April Fools’ Day.

But, before I jump in to today’s episode, I want to remind you about the special product I’ll be revealing soon called the 150|015 Project. It’s a goal to radically improve the businesses and lives of a 150 architects in 2015 to really make the mission of Business of Architecture here more impactful. I’m keeping the exact details under wraps for now, but I guarantee you’ve never seen anything like it.

If you want to be one of this 150 architects or designers, head on over to http://www.BusinessOfArchitecture.com/150 to get on the early notification list. I’ll send the details of the program to you first.

Okay, so with that teaser out of the way, I want to welcome our guest today, architect Peter Twohy from Baltimore, Maryland.

Peter, welcome to the show.

Peter: Hi, Enoch. How are you?

Enoch: I’m excellent out here in California. We’ve gotten a little bit of rain, but unfortunately not enough to break the dry spell we’ve had out here.

Peter: Okay. I’d just like to start by saying thank you. I’ve listened to almost every one of your shows and I’ve gone back to listen, once I jog, probably three or four times a week. I put the podcast in and off I go. It’s been just great. Going back to Gregory La Vardera.

Enoch: Yeah, Greg La Vardera.

Peter: Absolutely. Then, obviously the Thom Mayne… You’ve had some phenomenal guests on. What I liked most about your show is, I think, it just expands what I think of as possible for architects. I just appreciate it, so thank you.

Enoch: I love it. Thank you, Peter, really, for that sincere feedback. I know I have my notes up here for today’s show, and I can tell you that our guests are in for a great treat specially for those of you who are sole practitioners because Peter is going to dive in to the lessons he’s learned from almost ten complete years of sole-practitioning architect.

Peter, you have beautiful work and we’re going to talk a little bit about that in our next episode. Thank you for the compliment, I appreciate it. I look forward to jumping in to the meat of today’s show.

Peter: Go ahead.

Enoch: So, Peter, let us know a little bit about you, about your practice. Let’s start out with your origin story. Take us back and tell us how you got started so we can get an idea of… You have, kind of, a different story and an interesting model that other people can potentially use.

Peter: First, I went to college – Notre Dame. Graduated, I guess, 1988. Then, I spent a couple of years in Cincinnati. Then, we moved, my wife and I, to Germany for three years. So, I learned German and I got a job in a German firm and became a designer there for three years. Then, came back to America and worked in firm here in Baltimore for about ten years.

I was, kind of, getting restless. I got a letter – it was a letter, actually, not an email – that was addressed to all architects, or maybe not all. It was an offer: “You could open your new office under our office, in our office space. Come talk to us about it.” I almost threw that letter out because I didn’t know, I didn’t understand it. It seemed odd. It is odd.

But, I didn’t. Instead, I called and I was interviewed for this position. I interviewed with the… The guy’s name was Bruce Finkelstein. His firm is HBF plus Architects. At that time he had a partner and her name is Kitty Daly.

So, they interviewed me. I was like the rough equivalent of like Woody Harrelson coming in to Cheers. The young architect, had a little bit too much energy, but maybe not quite enough smarts yet. But, there it was – open up my own office.

The deal was, again, I remember, ten years ago, it was right before the recession started. He was flushed with work. People are calling him and saying, you know, “Would love to work with you. When can we get started?” He’d say, “Well, maybe in four months.” They’ll say, “Wait a minute. Four months?” So, what my job really was, was to shorten his backlog.

I paid him a certain percentage of the money that I made. That was our deal – not what I bill but what I actually came in. He was my mentor. Still is. I’m having lunch with him next week. I lean on him for everything. He’s just been, for me, the perfect mentor. I think it’s something that other people could actually do.

For me, right now, I have a little bit too much work, so I have options. One is I could hire an employee. I could contract a draftsman or that kind of thing. I have options. One of the options I have is to do the same thing that Bruce did for me, you know, become that mentor and help someone in the next generations. So, probably, roughly somewhere between thirty and forty years old, maybe something like that, have some experience and all that.

That interview was a very odd interview because I thought I was interviewing them, but the reality was they were interviewing me. It was very clear. They were looking for a certain type of person who could really do the work that need a lot of guidance, but was good on its own.

The advantages were huge. The first advantage was I went in and took their contracts and just erased HBF plus, and put 2E Architects, so I didn’t have to figure that part out. Kitty was the person who did all the books, so again, I didn’t have to figure that part out. I went almost, like, instead of jumping in to the fire or in to the swimming pool, I’m just wading in to the shallow end. I mean, I couldn’t fail. From a business perspective, that was not going to be possible.

Enoch: Yeah.

Peter: Think about that though, a young architect that can’t, from a business – I could have failed from an architectural standpoint, that would have been possible, but not from a business perspective. I think the opposite’s true of almost every architect that hangs out the shingle. They could fail from a business perspective but probably not from an architectural perspective. It was great.

Enoch: I love the win-win aspect of that set up. So, that wasn’t an employment relationship. It was not employment.

Peter: Yup. So, my company was my company. I was in their office space, so, obviously, I was writing a check to them every month. I’m making their business much more profitable. They’re incurring no liability for whatever it is that I do.

The only part that was odd was when a person called them but ended up getting me. That worked fine, but, again, that’s not going to work for everybody. Your personality has to be able to adapt to that, but we never really had a problem with that. I thought it was going to be a problem, but it never really was.

Enoch: I would imagine that today with more use of mobile phones, VoIP, computers that it would be pretty easy to get two separate numbers. Are you saying you have the same number in the office as Bruce?

Peter: Yes, we did.

Enoch: Okay.

Peter: For the first year or two, people called HBF plus, and then they would decide whether they wanted the project. If they did, fine. If they didn’t, they would say, “Well, we have this young up and comer. Why don’t you talk to him?” It was my responsibility at that point to get the job, and most of the time that happened.

I knew I could do the architecture. At that point in time, I was about forty. I was a good enough architect. That was clear in my mind at least. But, I also knew that I was not a good enough businessman. We had business courses in college and I had no idea at the time how important they were and, therefore, didn’t pay much attention or it didn’t sink in, I don’t know, but they didn’t have a big impact on me. That’s a shame, really, but it’s the reality.

Enoch: Yeah. Well, I mean, there’s just so much to learn in architecture school. I almost don’t know how you could successfully do both – really learn the business and then also learn how to be a great designer and architect. It just seems almost impossible.

Peter: Yeah. Maybe it’s a left brain/right brain type of thing.

Enoch: There’s that, yeah.

Peter: You start to get in your mind that you’re going to become an architect, and then there’s all this, you know, you have to learn about Le Corbusier, you have to learn about [Inaudible 00:11:27] you have to learn about Frank Lloyd Wright, all these famous architects and how they do what it is they do. The business just seems like just as distant, like a problem that you may never have, which is true in some ways. A lot of people never open their own firm, and really, the business aspect isn’t ultimately important to them. But, to me, it ended up being very important.

Enoch: Well, as I’d like to say, it’s the oil that makes everything run. If you’re not generating that profit…

So, that’s a very interesting model, Peter, that other people could use. It sounds like Bruce sent out, maybe, a mass letter to certain individuals?

Peter: I think they were AIA members. I think that’s what he did. I bet he sent out about a hundred. How he figured out which hundred… He didn’t send out, say, a letter to the owner of a firm, but he sent the letters out to people who would have been an architect for ten years. I don’t know what he did, but he found us.

Enoch: Yeah.

Peter: He said he interviewed about twelve people and selected me. The interview was very cordial, very comfortable right from the start. Again, I really thought that I was the one who was going to be doing the interviewing and it was the exact opposite. It was very funny when I realized, “Oh, wait a minute. I’m being interviewed not the other way around.”

Enoch: Interesting. Well, did that help you out, at least, a little bit in terms of your confidence going in because, obviously, when you’re the one interviewing, you’re going to come in there more confident as opposed to feeling like you’re on trial.

Peter: That probably did help the first… Then, when it flipped, which was I realized fairly early, my initial impression have already been made and all that kind of stuff, so that probably worked out fine. I realized as soon as I knew I was being interviewed I really had nothing to lose.

Enoch: Yup.

Peter: I had a job. It was a good job. I enjoyed my job. At that time, I was a designer and I designed very, very high-end residential and religious buildings, mostly synagogues. It was great for me because if there’s any building project that’s even more important than someone’s house, it might be their place of worship, but I don’t think there’s a second one.

I liked that. I liked that that my clients think that their job is really important to them. That’s important to me. If they’re not interested in their own project, then I’m unlikely to be interested in their project. That’s just one of the ways that I differentiate clients now – if, again, they need this for some reasons, then I’m more interested in their project already.

So, I had that job. It was a good job. I was doing work I loved, but at the time, I was a designer. I did the design and then it would move down the line to somebody else for the construction drawings. I would throw in as much as I could detail-wise so that it wouldn’t get ruined in the construction drawing process.

There were a bunch of different people that worked there that I, sort of, moved to. I would just look over their shoulders, you know, I was nervous, “Wait a minute, you can’t do that!” So, for me, that’s one of the main reasons I wanted to open my own firm – more freedom for design, but also to grow up.

For me, I thought, I was really only half of an architect, a designer. I didn’t really get in to the to the construction drawings. People tell me, contractors tell me that they like my drawings because there’s enough information, not too much, and they can find it, and all that kind of stuff. So, again, that’s been a growing experience for me. I’ve enjoyed that.

Enoch: Now, Bruce, is he a fairly good marketer? Even with his interview process or his process of finding you, if we look at that from a marketing exercise, we can apply that to anything, you know?

A lot of times, as architects, we don’t think about, when we’re hiring someone or when we’re doing any business relationship, that we’re going to follow the pattern of marketing.

Peter: I would say he’s a very interesting thinker. A lot of people say that I’m interesting thinker because they don’t think like architects. So, I would think I’m, kind of, somewhat normal in the architecture range, right?

Bruce really isn’t. He’s a very interesting thinker. I’m always probing him on almost on any topic because I never quite know how he’s going to approach any particular topic. On the specific topic of marketing, he thinks about that a lot.

Again, he’s about ten years older than I am, plus or minus. The computer, he’s probably better at that than I was which is a little bit unusual for people. Mostly, people ten years younger than I am excel at that, but ten years older people usually don’t, sometimes spectacularly so, like, “I can do email,” and that’s about it. He’s the exact opposite of that. He realized the potential and the power, so, yeah, a very interesting guy.

Enoch: Interesting. Well, I know a lot of people that I talk to, Peter, I guess they expect remarkable results. I think it’s interesting that you pointed out that he possibly sent out letters to a hundred people and he ended up with one person.

Behind the scenes we don’t realize that that’s what’s happening. When you’re doing any sort of business development activity, you’re contacting dozens and dozens of people to get that one person that works out right.

Peter: Yeah. For me, again, I feel very, very fortunate. It was, obviously, something I didn’t deserve. I didn’t do anything to earn that, but it’s worked out extremely well.

Then, maybe, three years ago Kitty retired. This is, by the way, the same woman who, on several occasions, was mistaken for my wife. She [Inaudible 00:17:51] “Really? You think we’re…” We did have that kind of a relationship that people would… We were very familiar with each other and we’re close friends, and she does look very, very young. Having said that, she was… I don’t remember where I’m going with that.

So, their whole point was, when they were bringing people in, both of them interviewed, I had to get along with both of them. Again, I didn’t know this. It worked out very, very well.

Enoch: So, you shared overhead. I’m just trying to get an idea of this deal here. Basically, you came in to this architect that had an established practice. He had the office already set up. He had all the forms. He was running a great business. You were able to fly underneath his wing. Kitty who probably did everything from answering the phone, to keeping the books, to probably maybe drawing some…

Peter: Right. She was something else.

Enoch: Did she ever get do any drawing.

Peter: She would show at client meetings too. So, instead of me going out for that initial consultation, because they really want to [Inaudible 00:19:08] the architect, she would go out. That saves an enormous amount of time. She was good at that, which is a real talent. It’s not something that you can… You could probably learn it, but probably not everyone can learn that talent.

She would throw out a couple of ideas. She was not an architect, but she had been in the business for years. She and Bruce had worked together for, I want to say, twenty or so years before I even got involved, so it’s a lot of experience and super nice woman. That was easily, you know, she was super nice within seconds of meeting her. Somehow she got that across, I don’t even really know how.

Enoch: So, she was a real people person. She could connect with people, empathize with them.

Peter: Right.

Enoch: So, that was great to have that support network as you’re starting your firm. Was there any time, Peter, when you thought, you know, “30%. Man, that feels like I’m giving away so much”?

Peter: Well, you have to understand, I knew nothing about business when I started. My wife does our checkbooks and that kind of stuff. It was a very minimal… Again, I’m good at visualizing three dimensions, designing, that kind of thing, so it didn’t occur to me, at that time, that that was a bad deal because, again, I have this employee. I have her essentially full time. We split her, but I didn’t need her for more than… So, I frankly think I got a great deal.

Enoch: Yeah. Excellent. Even to this day, looking back, you’re still comfortable with the terms?

Peter: Right.

Enoch: That’s perfect for a win-win. So, how long did you keep that relationship in terms of the firm?

Peter: So, it was seven years. Then, Kitty retired. Bruce had a couple of different ideas running around his head, which is normal for him. He thought it was probably in my best interest that we don’t go forward because he wasn’t comfortable signing three-year leases on space.

Once Kitty retired, we didn’t really need as much office space as we had. That lease was coming to a close. It all came to an end. I started looking for my own office space and found something that was, again, perfect for me.

Enoch: Peter, you do gorgeous residential work. In the next episode we’re going to get in to some of that, and talk about some of the images, and some of the tools you use to do that and make that easy.

Before we do that, since we’re on the business development, finding work, marketing, I’ll ask you a little bit about, during those seven years and even up till now, what have you started using that has brought in projects? What have you found to be working in your practice to bring in new work – not just new work but work that you like?

Peter: So, the first thing that I did and that I still do is the home show. A lot of architects think of the home show as something beneath them, really. Really, I thought that too.

Enoch: This is in a convention center? It’s a local home and garden show where contractors will have their wares, any home furnishings, and you would have, as an architect – any professional can go in there. Anyone, basically, can go in there and run a booth, is that right?

Peter: That’s exactly correct. It comes at the end of February this year, so I’m gearing up for it again. I said this last year and I’m saying it again this year: I think this is going to be the last year that I’ll get in to one.

The first thing you have to do for your booth is you have to differentiate yourself from contractors because there are going to be twenty, fifteen is a minimum, contractors. In all the ten years I’ve done it, I’ve only ever been the only architect. People come in to my booth and they think that I’m a contractor, so I have to visually differentiate my booth from any contractor’s booth and make it look, sort of, “architect-y”. That’s like the first step.

The second step is how you actually look. What I wear is actually important. I under-dress at times. I wear jeans to blend in with the crowd, but that makes you look more like a contractor, which isn’t bad, by the way. Being mistaken for a contractor is a compliment, but it’s also the wrong image. If I were mistaken for Brad Pitt, that would be a compliment, but still the wrong image – so, same thing.

I landed on, sort of, a professor-y, kind of, outfit that I would wear. I’m wearing jeans right now. I don’t particularly feel the need to dress up, but for that show, I do. I dress up a little, but you can’t be so dressed up that you appear stand-offish.

Enoch: Yeah. What tuned you in to the fact that people were perceiving you differently based upon how you dress?

Peter: Kitty. The first thing I did was try to dress up like an architect, you know, wear all black or something like that, which, by the way, I really like. So, I have plenty of those kinds of outfits. They would come up to her and then she would introduce them to me, but nobody came up to me. So, I said, “Okay.” Then she said, “Well, you know, you, kind of, look like you’re smarter than they are or you’re dressing that way.”

I dressed down a little. So, I would do the jeans, right? That didn’t work either because then it was like when you go out on the field. Well, you know, “It’s not what you think,” and we would go on, and we’d confuse them. You don’t want confusion. That’s never a good thing. So, I landed on that, sort of… and it works.

So, Kitty would knit. She would sit there and she’d knit. People would come up to her like they would interrupt her knitting, but then have a couple of questions, and she would say, “Okay, I’ll put this down.” It was very… I almost half want to learn how to knit just so some people would come up to me. That’s a big part of the booth.

The booth design is also really important. We always did a 10×20 booth and half of the booth was a place to sit down, talk about the projects because the conversation is going to be fifteen minutes. Then, the other half of the booth is just images of my work. So, people would, almost like a museum, come in. To feel that they could come in without being accosted – which at a home show, they’re going to be accosted. Every booth needs their business, and they understand that. So, I was trying to do the opposite.

Again, several of my best clients came from the home show and several of my largest commissions came from the home shows as well, but you have to be cognizant of the downside of the home show. The first is it’s exhausting. I come home, I’m completely wiped out. My wife used to make fun of me. She’d go, “Let me see, you sat around and talked all day.”

Enoch: That’s interesting, Peter. Is that because you’re an introvert?

Peter: No. I think it’s because you have to be “on,” right?

Enoch: Yeah.

Peter: It’s for ten hours. So, I’d come home and I would just be completely, you know, I’ll just go in to bed and then get up and do it again the next day.

I’m, kind of, an odd mix of introvert and extrovert. I’m fine to be with people for long, extended periods of time, but then when I’ve had enough, I can’t do anymore. It just turns completely off. Sometimes, we’ll be at a party and my wife will look around, “Where did he go?” She’ll know, and I’m gone fifteen minutes or whatever. I just need to decompress.

In any case, the home show is exhausting – way harder than you think it’s going to be. Setting up the home show is hard, finding the right design is critical and difficult.

You have to be willing to do smaller projects. Some people are going to come in with basements; they’re going to come in with everything, one-room additions and that kind of stuff. I didn’t say yes to everyone who came through and I didn’t try to, but you have to be willing that that’s a possibility. For me, you have to also understand the good about that.

Small projects, again, architects don’t typically say, “Ooh, what I really need is twenty more really small projects,” but then you get twenty customers that are wildly happy with what you’ve done, and now they’re chirping. It’s building the network. I’ve worked on many, many… I mean, some years, twenty-five/thirty projects per year, and now you’ve got twenty-five/thirty people chirping in a positive way.

So, it’s one of the benefits, but it’s frenetic. Twenty-five clients in a year is twenty-five people who believe that their project is the single most important project on the planet – and they’re right – to them, for sure. I have to be able to bring that same level of interest to the project; otherwise, they’re going to know it. It’s frenetic. Your contractors are calling with questions for not one or two projects, but ten or twenty under constructions. So, just keeping that straight in my mind…

Now, I still do small projects, but I’m much more selective about them. It’s not because of the people, it’s because of me. I can only do so much. I can only handle so many projects. I can only be my best for that number.

Enoch: Yeah. Just on a side note, I do have a picture of your home show booth here. We’ll go ahead and put that on the episode so people can see a picture of what it looks like.

Peter: Okay, good.

Enoch: How much, in terms of how many days, how much time and how much money investment does it take to put up a booth like this?

Peter: That’s a good question. So, you need a way to display the artwork. I chose these metal grids that were in stores because I thought they have a very interesting open feel and they were relatively inexpensive.

Carpeting, I think, is a key because people, you know, they’re walking for miles and they’re going to be tired by the time they get to your booth. Carpet padding? Man, I can’t tell you how many people walk in to my booth and just smile just because of the carpet padding and they feel it.

A place to sit down, so you need a table, chairs. I also have a computer, a little [Inaudible 00:30:22] Mac that I set up. It just has rolling photos, again, just to grab people’s attention. Lighting is key… I don’t know the exact numbers because it was ten years. I’ve not changed any of it. So, the initial investment was relatively high, but if you amortize the investment over the ten years, it’s almost nothing.

Enoch: Yeah.

Peter: So, the booth at the Timonium Home Show, the one that I actually do, is about $2700. That’s not inexpensive. Having said that, one person signs up and it pays for itself.

It’s funny because everyone else is going after the maximum number of people signing up. I’m going after something very different. I’m going after a couple of people to sign up for large projects, and it’s happened. I can think of, off the top of my head, probably half a dozen projects that were commissions or projects that were $500,000 or more in construction costs. So, these are not small projects.

I did a Net-Zero house. That came from the home show. So, it was a whole house out of the ground. That paid for every home show I’ll ever, that commission. I did a project that [Inaudible 00:31:47] used in their ads, their national ads. That came from the home show. Again, it’s not basements and one-room additions, that kind of stuff, but I get to choose what I want to do. At the beginning, I was doing whatever came in, but now I’m very selective.

Enoch: What other ways have you found to be successful in terms of bringing in new business?

Peter: There are really two ways. The first one is: I do a monthly email marketing campaign, which is if you send that out, that’s what you call it, but if you get that it’s called “spam.” My email marketing campaign – it’s called “One from 2E.” A friend of mine who owns Blue Ocean Ideas, he’s name is Brody Bond came up with this idea. He’s the one who developed my second website but my first real website.

He liked the name “2E Architects,” and he wanted me to get out there a little bit more than I was. “One from 2E” was his little tagline. It’s one photo with one caption once a month. What I found is that that’s enough for me to be, sort of, top of mind, well, maybe not top of mind, but in the consciousness of people.

So, now, I’ve got somewhere around 550/600 maybe people I send this out to every single month, and they look forward to it. In fact, a couple of months ago, because of a technical glitch, I was at least two weeks late, and I got phone calls, “Where is my email?” They know that the first week is when I’m going to send it out, usually the first Tuesday or something like that. So, it’s good to be on people’s minds.

Enoch: Yeah.

Peter: At the same time, I get an email from, like, Staples or something every single day. It’s just too much. So, I had to be very careful about what was too much and what was not enough. Brody wanted me to do it every two weeks. That’s probably better from a marketing standpoint, but I had to do it. It takes away from the other things I would be doing and I wasn’t sure that I would want to get it every two weeks, so I settled on once a month. I’m not sure that’s exactly the right number, but it’s worked well for me.

Enoch: In what ways has it worked well, Peter?

Peter: Well, again, people forward this email to other people. Again, my “email marketers,” whatever, they go to parties all the time and then somebody says, “You know, we’re thinking about…” and then, “Why don’t we talk to Peter?”

They’ve gotten this email now for two years, every, single month for two years. It just goes right to them, so they become my agents, really. That has happened more than once – it happens all the time. So, that’s been a benefit to me. Again, my clients get them and they see their photograph, and they’re are like, “Wow!” so it engenders good will. It’s just a win all the way around, so I really like it.

The second thing I’ve done for marketing… It’s actually quite funny. It involves you, Enoch. When I started ten years ago, nobody over the age of thirty, I thought, was actually using the Internet to find an architect because, again, ten years ago was a long time ago as far as the Internet goes. I didn’t put much stock in to my own website back then.

After maybe a year or two I made one with a Mac website. It was simple and it was not overly elegant. It wasn’t representing 2E Architects, very well at all. Then, somebody told me at a meeting that, “I looked up your stuff at the website,” and I asked, “Wow, did people actually do that?” I didn’t believe it at that time. Now, I can’t even imagine. I mean, everybody finds me through the website. So, you can look up http://www.2E-Architects.com

Enoch, your company, I’m working with you, and Eric, and Richard, and the person who helped me was Hope on the website – oh, phenomenal job. Now, the website has what you guys call the “Monkey’s fist.” For people who don’t know what that is, it’s a free giveaway. I’m giving away “How to Hire an Architect,” a pamphlet, but also “How to Begin Your Design Project,” and also “How to Hire a Contractor,” so any one of those three. The only thing you have to pay me is not money, it’s an email address.

So, they first get a couple of emails talking about, “Hey, are you starting a project? Give me a call,” That kind of stuff. That goes on for maybe two months or maybe three months. Then, after that, they’ll get right in to the “One from 2E” once a month after that. It’s going to make the “One from 2E” reach even further.

I’m excited. I’m really excited. The website’s been live for about two weeks. I’ve sent out maybe not one of those a day, but it’s been almost that.

Enoch: That’s incredible.

Peter: Right.

Enoch: So, that website that Peter was referencing, my company which I have two partners, it’s Architects Marketing. It’s not Business of Architecture, but it’s http://www.ArchitectsMarketing.com.

Maybe, Peter, since you’re involved in that program, do you want to tell our listeners a little bit about the program itself, about what you’ve learned in there? We have free resources as well as paid resources on that site. What’s been your experience being part of this marketing program that I put together with Eric Bobrow and Richard Petrie?

Peter: Well, obviously, it’s more than the website. For me, it’s a resource on how to talk to people.

I’m really looking forward to the trip to Vegas where I’m going to sit down and meet Richard for the first time. He’s already given me advice on how to overcome objections. When somebody says “X,” you can turn that around. Again, that’s nothing that ever came up in architecture school. The way that people think is critical to how they make their decisions, which, of course, impacts me if they’re deciding or not to hire 2E Architects. Also, when you, and Richard, and Eric talk, I always had to put that through the lens of 2E Architects.

Again, I have plenty of work, which is great. That’s a luxury. I understand that. I don’t want to be too market, so I’m trying to be just enough marketing without being too much. But, again, if I had employees, I would probably have a very different feel because I have their families, their spouses, their children, their college educations, you know, the kids, or whatever. I wouldn’t be able to be quite as cavalier as I am, and I would probably be much more focused on, again, the Marketing.

So, my focus now is to be marketing in a way that is, sort of, comfortable for me, which isn’t necessarily good marketing. Does that make sense?

Enoch: Oh, absolutely. It just sounds like you understand how it works. You’re going to take it as far as you need to and not further, obviously, it could be taken pretty far.

Peter: Right. Again, before we met, I knew a little like what Brody helped with the “One from 2E.” Eric helped with that too. We had a conversation that gave me the idea that, that would be possible when Eric and I spoke.

Then, Brody and I had lunch less than a month later, maybe two weeks later. He came up with the idea without me having to say anything, but I was preconditioned by Eric to think that I idea was good before he even said it. Again, I’m smart enough to realize a good idea when it hits me right in the face, so that’s a good thing.

Enoch: Well, thanks for sharing that, Peter. It certainly has been a pleasure having you in the program. When you talk about meeting personally, we are… So, that’s a live event. Our listeners probably don’t know about that because it’s part of the Architects Marketing Academy that we’re doing right now.

What we’re doing is we’re throwing a live event in Vegas, myself, Eric Bobrow, Richard Petrie, who’s flying up from New Zealand, are going to be there. We’re going to meet members of our program together and just have a two-day sit down, hash it out, talk about business challenges, and put our minds together, map out a plan for the future. That’s happening at the end of February, February 23rd and 24th, I think.

Peter: Right. Then, that’s sold out, right?

Enoch: Yeah, it is. That’s sold out. We have another one that we’re doing on the next Friday and Saturday, the 27th and 28th. We rented this nice Penthouse Suite at the top of the Mandalay Bay overlooking the incredible exuberance of Las Vegas, which is just a crazy city, specially architecturally speaking – it’s just rather ridiculous.

Peter: Right. I would say that in a positive way and a negative way. So, in other words, “ridiculous” is a high compliment.

Enoch: Yes.

Peter: And “ridiculous,” is maybe not a compliment at all.

Enoch: Yeah, absolutely.

Peter: But, I’m looking forward to it. Vegas isn’t really my favorite city. I don’t gamble. I don’t do anything like that, but Vegas is great for people watching. So, I can’t wait.

Enoch: Yup. Well, I can’t either, Peter. It’s going to be great. Well, thanks.

It sounds like we’ve covered a lot in this particular episode. We talked about a very interesting model about how you got started in your firm. Win-win. For any established architect it seems like that’s great because it takes some of the load off the plate of a seasoned practitioner like yourself who has extra work to go around. It helps a young, up and coming, hungry architect who may lack some of the experience and needs a little roost. So, that is just awesome.

I would love to hear if any of our listeners end up doing that. If you have any additional questions for Peter about how that works, Peter, how can people reach out to you to get some additional information?

Peter: The website is probably the easiest way to do it. It’s http://www.2E-Architects.com. So, the “S” is, kind of, hopeful, maybe there will be “S” in the future, but at the moment, it’s just me.

Enoch: Well, thanks, Peter for joining us on the Business of Architecture.


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Enoch Bartlett Sears is the founder of the Architect Business Institute, Business of Architecture and co-founder of the Architect Marketing Institute. He helps architects become category leaders in their market. Enoch hosts the #1 rated interview podcast for architects, the Business of Architecture Show where prominent guests like M. Arthur Gensler, Jr. and Thom Mayne share tips and strategies for success in architecture.


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