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Match Fit: How RedBook Aligns Clients with Partners

19 Mar 2024
Whether clients are embarking on the complete renovation of a London townhouse, the remodelling of an Alpine ski chalet, or the refurbishment of a country house, RedBook will assemble the right team of architects, interior designers, and landscape designers alongside all the other professional consultants that might be required for the project. To achieve this, we take enormous pains to analyse RedBook’s Partner roster of hand-picked practices to determine the optimal match for the particular client and project. And, before inclusion in the roster, each of our Partners has of course been scrutinised for suitability by our Advisory Board and assessed by the in-house team. Here’s how the matchmaking process works.

By Zahra Taleifeh, Head of Partners
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Step 1: Initial Questionnaire

At the very start, our clients complete a Client Questionnaire (often while sitting with us) that gives us an initial sense of their priorities for the project. The client’s answers help us establish a few fundamentals, such as who will act for the client as the main point of contact for the project, the names of the key decision makers, previous experience with building projects, and any significant dates or events taking place in the near future that might make the client unavailable and that need to be planned into the schedule. 

At this point, we also delve a little into what the client’s hopes and aspirations (and concerns) are about the project, secure a rough idea of budgets, gauge the scope of the project, and whether or not sustainability is important to the client. Then there are some background questions about lifestyle interests, design references and the number of professional services required for the project. All this information, detailing the client’s project requirements and aspirations, is captured in our Project Brief which we share with the Partners we identify after careful analysis as optimal for the client and project. 

In the meantime, our in-house RedBook Project lead will visit the client’s property or site to gather as much additional information as possible to include in the Project Brief.

Step 2: Taste Exploration

The team will then put together a Taste Exploration exercise for our clients. This involves using a bespoke tool we designed in-house that enables clients to define where they stand on the design spectrum. Often, we will take clients through this exercise at their homes – sometimes alongside wider members of the family, such as children. The tool consists of 100 or more images that we’ve selected as relevant to the project and the client’s broad taste. The image flow is carefully structured to elicit as much information as possible, covering all aspects of the project. Typically, the flow takes the shape of a walking tour through a house from the front door, through all the rooms and finishing in the garden (where appropriate). It always produces fascinating results. Some clients come to RedBook with a very clear aesthetic, but for others, it’s a journey of discovery. Every response to every image is logged for us to digest later and distil as an additional element in the Project Brief.

Step 3: Selecting the Partners

Now we sit down as a team to look at the results of both the Taste Exploration and the Project Brief. Armed with both, we have a very useful picture of our client and their project. We are then in a position to put forward the Partners who we think would be a perfect match. To do this, we use an in-house system that evaluates Partners against a long list of suitability criteria that cover each Partner’s project portfolio, experience, the style of the studio or practice, their location, and the personalities of the leading team members—an aspect that some might overlook but we think is fundamental to the success of the project. Once we have a shortlist assembled, we approach each of the practices to confirm their capacity and interest in the project. In many cases, this selection process results in a group of 9 firms—three architects, three interior designers, and three landscape designers—but it can be a different configuration, according to the client’s wishes. If the client and project require project managers and quantity surveyors, the total can reach 15 candidates.

Sometimes clients wish to include their own professional candidates within the mix—something we’re always happy to accommodate. We then put together written proposals on each of the practices, summarising why they’ve been chosen and their distinctive qualities, and send these proposals to the client.

Step 4: Beauty Parade

This next step involves us spinning a number of plates, trying to align different client—and Partner-schedules—in order to set up a workable Beauty Parade. We arrange for the selected Partners to meet our client in order to present their business either in their studios, the client’s home, or over Zoom. In advance of each Partner meeting with the client, we will have shared our Project Brief with the Partner and discussed the Brief with them in detail so they are fully prepared for their meeting.

At the end of this exercise, the client will select their favourite practices, who will then put together fee proposals for the project. Our Partners are always made aware that they are competing for the project alongside their well-qualified peers.

 

Step 5: Analysing the proposals

Once all the fee proposals come in, RedBook carries out a comprehensive analysis of each one, benchmarking figures against current market rates. Often fee proposals come to us in many different forms, structured in different ways, and covering different scopes of work. Making full sense of these, and making sure quotes are made on an equal basis, is hugely helpful for clients and we see this as one of our biggest value-add areas for them. The results of the analysis are presented back to the client so that they can make an informed decision on who would be in the best position to take on the project.  And once the clients have the fees and analysis, they almost always wish to soundboard their choices with us before they make a final selection.

The work we do to assemble the ideal project team for a client is rigorous and detailed. But our process results in far quicker team assembly than if clients did it for themselves, and of course the clients benefit vastly from perfect alignment with the ideal professionals and de-risking their whole project.

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