Stage One. Lead intake by the director of first impressions. This person qualifies the callers (the leads) to see if they are a fit for what the company does and the company’s process.

Stage Two. Callback by the salesperson if the lead fits your company’s idea of a good client and is prepared to spend what you, off-the-cuff, think it might take to design and build what the lead wants.

Stage Three. Salesperson visits potential client. The salesperson reviews the potential client’s pains (problems with his home and the emotional drivers for getting the problems fixed) and investment amount (comparing it to what the company thinks the project might cost). The salesperson also judges whether the potential client is a fit for what the company does. At this meeting, the salesperson brings up the design agreement and gets it signed or arranges to return for the signing.

Stage Four. Design is done and then reviewed with the potential client. Maybe there are up to two revisions. Once the potential client thinks the design solves his problems, then the estimating starts while the designer continues with specifying. As the specifying gets done, it gets priced too.

Stage Five. Salesperson presents and gets the preliminary proposal signed (an extremely thorough proposal based on the preliminary design, the preliminary specifications determined by the designer after interacting with the client, and the firm proposals from all trade contractors and vendors to build what is in the plans and specs). Now the job is secured.

Stage Six. Work begins on working drawings and finalizing details. Now that the contract is signed, the designer makes sure that the client owns the choices the designer made. Afterward, permit drawings can be prepared and submitted, working drawings can be prepared, and job books can be prepared. All of that work is paid for by the client because he signed the preliminary proposal, which included the cost to do the work.

Stage Seven. Change order No. 1 is submitted and signed. This covers any changes made to the plans, scope, and cost after the preliminary proposal was signed.

Stage Eight. With the permit in hand, construction starts. There are only two documents signed before the project is the company’s to execute: the design agreement and the preliminary proposal.

Continuous Improvement

How confident are you in your process? How effective is it at taking a potential client out of the marketplace and making your potential client think that you and your company are the solution? Do you unintentionally throw up barriers to securing the job? These are important questions to ask yourself. I made a lot of mistakes before developing the process laid out above. You, too, can learn how to do things more effectively.