RSA Architects Moves From an Architect-Run Firm and Grows as a Professionally Managed and Operated Organization

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In the middle of 2001, RSA Architects was facing a daunting challenge. Despite enjoying a blue chip list of clients, the respect of developers and contractors, and a portfolio of award winning designs, not all was right. The company felt hampered in responding to a growing demand for their services and seemed overextended in serving existing clients when it should not have been. Owner Rick Siegfried saw it was time to do something to position the company for growth that would produce greater opportunities for the staff and higher returns for the business.

RSA Architects, a twenty-year-old firm, founded by Rick Siegfried and located in Chagrin Falls had developed a very strong and impressive customer base. Among Rick’s clients were some of Cleveland’s most successful companies. Award winning projects included the buildings used by these businesses as well as the homes of the leaders of those businesses. Furthermore, the company did a fine business working on multi-family and cluster home projects. Unfortunately, Rick saw himself working harder and longer for diminishing returns. As the company grew, like many founders, Rick took on more and more tasks. His "collection of hats" included President, Chief Architect, Salesman, and Customer Service Department. He was spread too thin and was not focused on his best and highest use, that of designing and selling. Rick hired Birol Growth Consulting to help him grow his firm while improving the quality of life for his clients, staff, and ultimately himself.

Rick recalls early discussions with BGC, "Andy identified independent business owners as the ideal client." Andy also clarified Rick's best and highest use as design leadership and empathy with his fellow owners in guiding them through one of their largest commitments. Both Rick and RSA would be best served if he focused on sales and design leadership. To allow Rick the time to do this, Andy created an internal team that developed a restructuring plan for the whole firm. This included: Organization, IS systems, and staff roles, responsibilities and descriptions.

The timing could not have been better. Shortly into the relationship with Andy, RSA landed the firm's largest account. Rick recalls, "It was like going to the pet store to get a kitten and coming home with a mountain lion -- then trying to figure out how to tame it. Andy helped us tame our lion much more quickly than we could have without him." As the reorganization progressed, Rick promoted the firm's most capable architect to COO allowing Rick more time to focus on sales, architectural design, and top tier client management. Rick says," After working with Andy we noticed immediate results in increased productivity, cash flow, and profitability."

Additionally, the company adopted a sales funnel system using PACER principles, enabling Rick to focus his efforts on the most profitable client and prospect opportunities. Rick was most impressed with this. "Talk about a paradigm shift. You mean you people actually track this stuff and make projections? I used to just keep track of who I knew needed me immediately."

Andy also brought tremendous energy and enthusiasm to the project. "I find it enjoyable to work with Andy, he sets quick pace but allows me only to move as fast as I am able."

The firm now has an efficient operating structure. RSA has a highly motivated staff organized around four lead architects/managers reporting to the COO. "What I now have is a very clear concept of where I need to go. My architects are booked months in advance, and this allows me the ability to more clearly define my firm's direction and objectives." Both capacity and throughput have increased significantly with the same number of staff. This increased efficiency has allowed Rick to spend more time selling bigger projects and managing those prospects accordingly while the company continues to produce the highest quality work. "I see our firm continue to grow, even in this difficult economy. Moreover, working with Andy has been a personally rewarding experience. In the course of this project, he evolved from being my consultant to my trusted advisor and confidant."

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