2 Parts
11
QUESTIONS

Impact of COVID-19 on the U.S. Architects

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A new RealEstateBees.com survey of over 2,000 active architects found that despite the negative impact on their business caused by the COVID-19 virus, 70% are seeing new opportunities opened by the pandemic.

The following segmented report provides results of a large scale survey—Impact of the Coronavirus on the U.S. Real Estate Businesses—conducted by the research team of Real Estate Bees, a leading platform for real estate professionals.

The following statistics reflect the situation among the US architects. We reached out to over 2,000 active architects from all the 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. to collect their insight on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the industry in general and their businesses in particular.

The report is divided into the following two parts.

1. Multiple choice questions where the professionals had to choose one of the suggested answers to each question:

1.1 Is there a negative impact the pandemic is having on architects?
1.2 Has the pandemic opened any unexpected opportunities for architects?
1.3 How are you adjusting your marketing budget?
1.4 Are you transferring your business to a “work from home” basis?
1.5 Have you noticed any benefits of transferring your business processes to a “work from home” basis?
1.6 Have you noticed any drawbacks of transferring your business to a “work from home” basis?
1.7 Will you keep your business processes transferred to a “work from home” basis after the pandemic is over?

2. Open questions that allowed the experts to share their insights on various aspects of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the U.S. architects:

2.1 What are the specific negative impacts the pandemic is having on architects?
2.2 What unexpected opportunities have the pandemic opened for architects?
2.3 If you knew the impact of this situation on your business in advance, how would you prepare your business to mitigate your losses or even profit from it?
2.4 What marketing channels do you prefer to use during the pandemic over the rest and why?

Multiple Choice Questions
1
QUESTION

Is there a negative impact the pandemic is having on architects?

2
QUESTION

Has the pandemic opened any unexpected opportunities for architects?

3
QUESTION

How are you adjusting your marketing budget?

4
QUESTION

Are you transferring your business to a “work from home” basis?

5
QUESTION

Have you noticed any benefits of transferring your business processes to a “work from home” basis?

6
QUESTION

Have you noticed any drawbacks of transferring your business to a “work from home” basis?

7
QUESTION

Will you keep your business processes transferred to a “work from home” basis after the pandemic is over?

Open Questions
8
QUESTION

What are the specific negative impacts the pandemic is having on architects?

Key takeaways from the architects’ answers:

  • New and current projects are being postponed as homeowners concentrate on their health and safety rather than improving or building new properties.
  • Existing projects being completed for corporate clients in hospitality, commercial, and multifamily development industries get suspended, terminated, or are being changed dramatically in scope. These industries are affected by the pandemic as well, and investors are pulling back due to the uncertainty of the times.
  • As most people are staying at home, home renovations are increasing, which in turn affects the availability and cost of building materials and slows down the completion of most projects. Budgets of public projects are being reduced or eliminated as well.
  • Marketing efforts are being downsized. Architects, who rely on repeat business with customers, aren’t able to connect with them face to face due to enforced lockdowns.
  • Poor internet connection is making it difficult for work-from-home architects to communicate with coworkers. As a result, they are communicating less with colleagues.
  • For some architects, working away from each other isn’t working. Hence, they are contemplating on downsizing their staff.
  • Working from home is forcing architects to get in touch with clients through online means, which they feel somewhat impersonal and awkward.
  • Limited workspace has made it harder for architects to do their work at home. In addition, using digital media and tools has become a bit of a challenge for architects who are used to working on drawings physically.

 

Allan Grant, Principal Architect at Allan J Grant and Associates LLC

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Allan Grant Architect

Initially, in March 2020, many homeowners were much more focused on the health and safety of their families and not on home improvements. Projects being considered were put on the back burner.

As families and individuals isolated within their living environments over the longer period of time that the pandemic has lasted, working and schooling from home, as well as finding creative ways to stay focused and stimulated within the home confines, it became ever increasingly more important to maintain personal and community ties and sanity.

For those homeowners who are fortunate enough to maintain their income, savings grew and home improvement projects became more within reach.

 

Erik Tuomy, Principal at JMA Architects, LLC

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Erik Tuomy Architect

We had to downsize slightly in marketing due to no more face-to-face meetings and gatherings. We’re relying more on repeat business with existing customers, so not being able to connect with them in person has somehow affected our business.

Another downside is the lower internet connectivity speed that makes communicating with fellow workers more challenging. As a result, we tend to communicate less with coworkers while working at home.

We also have to endure smaller work spaces and desks while working at home. Redlining drawings takes a little longer when strictly utilizing digital media and tools, as opposed to physically marking the drawings up which you can do better at the office.

 

John A. Montgomery, Owner/Partner at Montgomery Roth Architecture & Interior Design, LLC

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John A. Montgomery Architect

We specialize in hospitality design services for restaurants, hotels, casinos, night clubs, ballrooms, and various other hospitality spaces, and these entities were hit pretty hard. We had almost every project we were working on get suspended or terminated due to the uncertainty, and some client industries were impacted greater than others.

We think there will be a longer and slower recovery for those companies, so we will also have a long and slow recovery.

 

Joseph Greif, Owner at Greif Architects

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Joseph Greif Architect

Workflow has slowed down because people are concerned about starting new large projects without being able to comfortably work face to face with us. We also feel responsible for not meeting personally, and Zoom meetings are somewhat impersonal and awkward.

Staff are working away from each other and after a year, we all do not like it. We will continue to downsize because of it.

 

Margine Biswas, Principal at Archiphy Architects and Interiors

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Margine Biswas Architect

Architecture is tied to the economy. It is one of the first industries that is affected when there is a slowdown in the economy. The pandemic made people stay home. This means that our clients also stayed home as well as their clients.

On the other hand, some real estate sectors experienced growth such as the housing industry.

 

Jennifer Weddermann, Owner/Architect at Weddermann Architecture, PLLC

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Jennifer Weddermann Architect

Uncertainty of projects in general, uncertainty of building material availability and cost, putting projects on hold, or changing them dramatically in scope. Public work budgets have been slashed or eliminated altogether.

 

Scott M B Gustafson, Owner/Registered Architect at MAISON ORION

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Scott M B Gustafson Architect

Many people spending extended time in their homes has caused them to want to make renovations. Thus, the increase in renovation work is driving up material costs, which slows down projects that started later in the pandemic.

 

Mark Pappas, Project Development Manager at PBV Architecture

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Mark Pappas Architect

Projects under construction mostly continued on. Some projects in design were delayed; others cancelled altogether. This was indeed the case during the 4th quarter of 2020 and probably will continue on in the 1st quarter of 2021.

 

Peter N. Vincent, FAIA, NCARB, Managing Partner at Peter Vincent Architects

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Peter N Vincent Architect

It is putting a strain on staff and our non-residential clients. Also, Hawaii’s economy is closely tied to tourism, and the pandemic and quarantine rules are hurting the country’s overall economy.

 

Sonya Sotinsky, Owner/Architect at FORSarchitecture

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Sonya Sotinsky Architect

We had five projects go on hold in March 2020. New hospitality projects have all but stopped. Investors are definitely pulling back and unsure of what the future holds for new development.

 

Peter Cafaro, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Jefferson Group Architecture

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Peter Cafaro Architect

There has been a slowdown of projects in the planning stages and far fewer new project opportunities.

 

Jeffrey Pelletier, Principal and Founder at Board & Vellum

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Jeffrey Pelletier Architect

Some project sectors like commercial and multifamily development have slowed.

9
QUESTION

What unexpected opportunities has the pandemic opened for architects?

Key takeaways from the architects’ answers:

  • Due to lower financing rates, people who are now staying at home are seeking home renovations and new custom residences to address changes in living and working spaces or to continue home projects that have been postponed for years.
  • Commercial clients are on the lookout for architectural services to explore flexible solutions for future build-outs and spaces.
  • Both residential and commercial clients are looking to add more contactless or sensor-controlled designs in their properties to lessen the spread of the virus.
  • Working from home has allowed the staff to enjoy more work flexibility. As everything is now done online, more workers and clients can join in meetings via online video or audio platforms, which makes project presentations and collaborations easier.
  • Architects are also opening their doors to industries that are experiencing growth during the pandemic.

 

Jamee Parish, Owner/Architect at Jamee Parish Architects, LLC

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Jamee Parish Architect

I have been amazed by the amount of potential clients seeking architectural services since the pandemic began. Sure, for a few months things slowed down considerably and for a few weeks after everything shut down I was receiving less calls, but it wasn’t long before people started working from home and started to think about projects.

Since so many families are working from home now – permanently or temporarily – their needs have changed. They may need more living space, or a home office space (or two!). I also think there is an increase in demand because everyone is sitting at home staring at all of the projects that have annoyed them for years, and they finally want to do something about it!

 

Peter N. Vincent, FAIA, NCARB, Managing Partner at Peter Vincent Architects

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Peter N Vincent Architect

The unexpected opportunities have been centered on the residential market segment. We are seeing many people engaging in renovations and new custom residences due to the financing rates and the increased demand for residential spaces to accommodate new aspects of home, work, and play.

 

Mark Pappas, Project Development Manager at PBV Architecture

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Mark Pappas Architect

We are talking with some commercial clients who want to try and be flexible with future build-outs and spaces. We are also able to accommodate more flexibility with the staff. Moreover, clients are considering more touch-free products and systems that they were less interested in before, such as doors, restroom fixtures, and lighting controls.

 

Ed Barnhart, Principal at Always by Design

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Ed Barnhart Architect

The pandemic has placed renewed emphasis on the importance of one’s home. This has resulted in an uptick of moves, renovations, and new home construction projects. A frequent homeowner response, with new homeschooling and more working from home, is to add more space to accommodate these new functions.

 

Allan Grant, Principal Architect at Allan J Grant and Associates LLC

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Allan Grant Architect

With homeowners who have been able to maintain their incomes, savings increases have led to a surge in home improvement project interest. As a residential architect, homeowners have reached out to me for consultations and exploration for planning new home improvement projects such as remodeling, additions, and some new construction homes.

 

Gwendolyn Butler, Single Practitioner at GTNJ Architecture

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Gwendolyn Butler Architect

Building has increased, especially among single family homes where homeowners working from home more than ever either want a home office, or more space in general, and outdoor living spaces that were not so important before.

 

Peter Cafaro, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Jefferson Group Architecture

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Peter Cafaro Architect

Clients have gotten in touch with us for development of exterior spaces and reallocation of hospitality interiors. I also noticed that there is more acceptance of remote work and online project meetings.

 

Anthony Ries, Principal at MUES Architecture Firm

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Anthony Ries Architect

There has been a considerable increase in inquiries for accessory dwelling units, additions, and other unique improvements to single family homes.

 

Dan Webster, CEO at Extraordinary Homes

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Dan Webster Architect

More people are wanting to remodel. Being at home more has caused many people to become dissatisfied with their current home, and they are wanting to build.

 

Jennifer Weddermann, Owner/Architect at Weddermann Architecture, PLLC

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Jennifer Weddermann Architect

Including more people in meetings, more easily, has let us share the design process more fluidly and more often with clients. This means less time wasted driving to meetings.

 

Jeffrey Pelletier, Principal and Founder at Board & Vellum

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Jeffrey Pelletier Architect

Residential remodels are increasing as people sit at home and wonder how to improve their space.

 

Scott M B Gustafson, Owner/Registered Architect at MAISON ORION

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Scott M B Gustafson Architect

The growth of familiarity with online tools like Zoom has made distance work and collaboration somewhat easier.

 

Margine Biswas, Principal at Archiphy Architects and Interiors

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Margine Biswas Architect

We took a closer look at industries that were not in our radar before the pandemic, but were experiencing unexpected growth.

 

Vincent Colangelo, Owner/Architect at Colangelo Architects

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Vincent Colangelo Architect

We are experiencing a greater number of inquiries regarding home additions and new homes.

 

Don Shaw, Architect at Don Shaw AIA

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Don Shaw Architect

Airports and hotels will need to be modified. Downtown office space may need to be repurposed.

 

Chase Corker, Owner at CORKER DESIGNS LLC

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Chase Corker Architect

There have been more clients needing existing homes or new homes needing upgrades or expansion.

10
QUESTION

If you knew the impact of this situation on your business in advance, how would you prepare your business to mitigate your losses or even profit from it?

Key takeaways from the architects’ answers:

  • Finding ways to juggle work with home life, and making more time to accommodate all clients, not just existing ones, would have given architects an increase in projects and profitability during the pandemic.
  • Bolstering marketing efforts, particularly writing more articles about home improvements for their websites, advertising for home office additions and outdoor living spaces, as well as updating company websites, could have helped bring in more clients.
  • Improving communication processes with clients and staff could have lessened work inefficiency and cost implications, especially in the drawing process.
  • Temporary solutions, such as subletting office spaces and keeping a smaller staff or hiring only on an as-needed basis, could help reduce operation costs. On the other hand, hiring more people could help lessen the workload that increased during the pandemic.
  • Organized and easily accessible files and resources used in architects’ working processes could easily prepare architectural firms to adapt quickly to changes in work conditions.
  • Creating a home office before the pandemic could have helped architects adjust to a work-from-home setup early on.
  • Those who run a lean operation and keep their heads in the game would be minimally affected by changes brought about by the pandemic.

 

Jamee Parish, Owner/Architect at Jamee Parish Architects, LLC

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Jamee Parish Architect

I believe that my business would have had an increase in projects and profitability if I hadn’t had small children of my own with me working! When the pandemic first hit, I actually stopped taking new clients in for a while and gave potential clients a longer wait time for beginning, simply because it was more important that I take care of my existing clients first.

 

Anthony Ries, Principal at MUES Architecture Firm

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Anthony Ries Architect

I would have started writing more articles about various home improvements such as outdoor kitchens, additions and home offices to attract more clients.

 

Dolores John, AIA, Principal at Dolores John Architects

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Dolores John Architect

Our website would have been more up-to-date with current projects because we have had more inquiries than normal during the pandemic.

 

Jennifer Weddermann, Owner/Architect at Weddermann Architecture, PLLC

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Jennifer Weddermann Architect

I would have insisted on daily meetings with all staff from Day 1. Inefficiency in the drawing process is what costs us money. I guess I would have invested in a tent company if I had known.

 

Allan Grant, Principal Architect at Allan J Grant and Associates LLC

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Allan Grant Architect

I would have focused on more consolidation of physical office space through subletting on a temporary basis, keeping flexible by compensating staff on an hourly as-needed basis.

 

Margine Biswas, Principal at Archiphy Architects and Interiors

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Margine Biswas Architect

Our preparedness would revolve around communication techniques to keep our clients and employees seamlessly connected.

 

Peter N. Vincent, FAIA, NCARB, Managing Partner at Peter Vincent Architects

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Peter N Vincent Architect

I feel that our firm was prepared and able to adapt quickly. We are thankful that our files and resources were organized and easily accessible through our VPN.

 

Lloyd Lumpkins, Owner/Architect at L. Lumpkins Architects, Inc.

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Lloyd Lumpkins Architect

I wish I could have hired another employee before the crisis.

 

Peter Cafaro, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Jefferson Group Architecture

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Peter Cafaro Architect

I would have gone into it with a smaller, more targeted staff.

 

Sonya Sotinsky, Owner/Architect at FORSarchitecture

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Sonya Sotinsky Architect

We run really lean, so I can’t say that I would do anything different.

 

Dan Webster, CEO at Extraordinary Homes

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Dan Webster Architect

We wouldn’t have changed anything. Luckily, we didn’t panic and we just stayed the course.

 

Joseph Greif, Owner at Greif Architects

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Joseph Greif Architect

I will plan to downsize the staff and work more myself.

 

Ed Barnhart, Principal at Always by Design

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Ed Barnhart Architect

I would have created a home office for myself!

 

Jay Corder, Owner/Principal at Jay Corder Architect

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Jay Corder Architect

I would have geared up to hire additional staff earlier.

 

Erik Tuomy, Principal at JMA Architects, LLC

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Erik Tuomy Architect

We would probably think about downsizing our office sooner.

 

Scott M B Gustafson, Owner/Registered Architect at MAISON ORION

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Scott M B Gustafson Architect

I would have taken on more projects earlier on.

 

Gwendolyn Butler, Single Practitioner at GTNJ Architecture

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Gwendolyn Butler Architect

I probably would have advertised for home office additions, casitas, and outdoor living spaces.

11
QUESTION

What marketing channels do you prefer to use during the pandemic over the rest and why?

Key takeaways from the architects’ answers:

  • Referrals through networking with industry colleagues and trade partners are a good tool for marketing. Connecting with professionals from related industries, such as real estate brokers, mortgage brokers, interior designers, and home insurance agents, among others, could also earn referrals that benefit both parties.
  • Real estate marketing partnerships and creating more online content like blog articles on home renovations can help in acquiring customers despite restrictions in face-to-face interactions, and remain top of mind with agents who can refer new clients.
  • Word-of-mouth marketing should be utilized particularly during these hard times when posting beautiful or grandiose images of homes via social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook could be considered insensitive by some. However, utilizing these channels to educate or share ideas about home improvements helps win new inquiries for potential partnerships.
  • Telephone and email, as well as advertising in market-specific trade publications, aren’t only time-tested tools to gain clients but are an easy and safe way to get in touch with customers during the pandemic.
  • On-call listing with federal and governmental agencies not only serves as a good marketing tool but also helps present architectural firms as trusted and government-certified organizations.
  • Architects who don’t rely on marketing tactics can benefit from building good client and contractor relationships and direct communications to gain new projects.

 

Allan Grant, Principal Architect at Allan J Grant and Associates LLC

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Allan Grant Architect

Networking with professionals in related industries have been and continue to be sources of referrals. Residential real estate brokers, residential interior designers, mortgage brokers, home inspection service providers, general contractors, homeowner insurance agents, and, of course, past clients all provide a stream of referrals that works both ways.

 

Joseph Greif, Owner at Greif Architects

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Joseph Greif Architect

We have been doing more Houzz and Home Advisor marketing with mixed results. The clients we have worked with are inexperienced with working with architects and prove to be poor client choices.

 

Jay Corder, Owner/Principal at Jay Corder Architect

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Jay Corder Architect

Internet content and social media, followed by real estate marketing partnerships. Limited ability to meet directly has further driven my primary focus to the internet and to prospective work to stay top of mind with realtors who can essentially refer me and pre-qualify clients.

 

Ed Barnhart, Principal at Always by Design

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Ed Barnhart Architect

I really don’t market per se, other than maintaining my website with current material. My work comes largely from having good client and contractor relationships/satisfaction.

 

Sonya Sotinsky, Owner/Architect at FORSarchitecture

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Sonya Sotinsky Architect

Most of our marketing is word of mouth. I’ve actually fallen off the Instagram bandwagon during COVID because it’s hard to post pictures of architecture when the world isn’t really in good shape.

 

Anthony Ries, Principal at MUES Architecture Firm

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Anthony Ries Architect

We continue maintaining contact with our trade partners. Blogging more about various project types has also likely contributed to inquiries.

 

Dan Webster, CEO at Extraordinary Homes

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Dan Webster Architect

Other than our website and Facebook page, we don’t do any marketing. We have the advantage of being in business for 32 years.

 

Jeffrey Pelletier, Principal and Founder at Board & Vellum

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Jeffrey Pelletier Architect

Our own written content on our blog and social media has been our marketing tool. We like funneling people back to our site where they can see the variety of helpful content we provide.

 

Lloyd Lumpkins, Owner/Architect at L. Lumpkins Architects, Inc.

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Lloyd Lumpkins Architect

We continue using social media to share ideas about home design needs as a result of our clients being at home more.

 

Dolores John, AIA, Principal at Dolores John Architects

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Dolores John Architect

Our marketing tools are primarily our website and social media, before and during the pandemic. Our research has shown that our new clients primarily find us by these means.

 

Mark Pappas, Project Development Manager at PBV Architecture

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Mark Pappas Architect

We focused on direct communications during the pandemic with existing clients. We’re not investing heavily in marketing right now.

 

Don Shaw, Architect at Don Shaw AIA

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Don Shaw Architect

My go-to marketing tools are the telephone, email, and website. Apart from being easy to use, they keep my staff safe because there’s no person-to-person virus exposure.

 

Jamee Parish, Owner/Architect at Jamee Parish Architects, LLC

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Jamee Parish Architect

I use Facebook, Instagram, and Houzz mainly. This has been consistent prior to the pandemic and now.

 

Erik Tuomy, Principal at JMA Architects, LLC

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Erik Tuomy Architect

We’re focusing mostly on federal and local governmental agency on-call lists and repeat business. We’re also currently working on our website to get it updated.

 

Scott M B Gustafson, Owner/Registered Architect at MAISON ORION

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Scott M B Gustafson Architect

We use Instagram for its speed and directness. We are also continuing our studio newsletter with Mailchimp.

 

Jennifer Weddermann, Owner/Architect at Weddermann Architecture, PLLC

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Jennifer Weddermann Architect

Our website and word of mouth are still the only ways we get work.

 

Peter N. Vincent, FAIA, NCARB, Managing Partner at Peter Vincent Architects

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Peter N Vincent Architect

We will continue with online and digital marketing channels.

 

Vincent Colangelo, Owner/Architect at Colangelo Architects

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Vincent Colangelo Architect

I used Google, Yelp, and Houzz.

 

Peter Cafaro, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Jefferson Group Architecture

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Peter Cafaro Architect

I continue to advertise in market-specific trade publications.

 

Chase Corker, Owner at CORKER DESIGNS LLC

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Chase Corker Architect

Past client referrals remain our best marketing tool.

 

Margine Biswas, Principal at Archiphy Architects and Interiors

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Margine Biswas Architect

We tried all possible channels, but I think the best channel is keeping our existing clients happy.

___

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