Advanced Planning for Industry

Opportunities for Building Designers Part 6 of 20

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Last week we discussed offering feasibility studies. This week, let’s explore advanced planning for industry.

Nearly every industrial operation (manufacturing, warehousing, transportation, etc.) makes expansion plans in advance of the actual need.

Large enterprises such as Lockheed, IBM, or Standard Oil have their own “facilities engineering” departments to handle this type of work.

Many smaller firms rely on the boss’s judgment or that of someone equally unfamiliar with the problems and costs of construction.

Design Professionals have found this to be a fertile field for planting seeds of new business.

An expert’s analysis of the work to be done, and predicted cost, serves the need for establishing budgets and expansion programs.

Since you are qualified to plan such expansions, your ideas embodied in a formal “report” will be read and studied at all levels of management.

You not only receive valuable publicity, but you are the logical person to put the expansion into working drawings when the time is right.

How do you get the work?

Contacts are important here.

Most of the better projects come from friends you have made in your local home builders association, BNI group, Kiwanis, Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, etc., and that is another good reason for keeping up your membership in such groups.

If you are interested in performing advanced planning services for specific industries, let your contacts know what you do and don’t keep it a secret.

If you have no such connections, don’t be afraid to “cold turkey” a prospect by going to their office and introducing yourself and your abilities. Many firms develop a special brochure for this purpose.

If you consider that every new contact you make can be a potential source of either new work or possible referral, you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain by spending a few afternoons calling on prospects.

How to prepare Advanced Planning for Industry ?

If you know that a particular operation is going to expand, first secure as much information of their work as possible and then call on them.

Difficult? Yes. Impossible? No.

  • They have competitors somewhere; how do the competitors work?
  • Find trade magazines published in their field.
  • What can the internet tell you about the problems of that business?

The knowledge you gain before this first call helps you to speak the client’s language and gives you a head start on the job if you get it.

Consulting concept chart with business elements drawn on a tablet.

How to handle the job:

Now is not the time for finicky detailing and long-winded specifications. What the client generally wants to know is:

  • How much space should be built or remodeled?
  • Where will it go?
  • How long will it take to complete?
  • How will it look, roughly? (in plan and elevation).
  • About how much will it cost?
  • Will there be any interference with normal operations?
  • Any special problems? (Buy more land; secure more electrical power; extend the primary lease, etc.)

Unless the client has a particular format for this information, they will want a professional report from you with a breakdown of the significant construction costs and a couple of sketches of the before and after conditions.

They will want the assurance that you have studied the problems and that your solution will work, but they don’t expect you to make a career out of his advanced planning, especially at hourly rates.

Note: Remember to consult your state statutes, business consultants may have to be licensed or registered in the field they are providing consultation.

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