Find out where Rena is speaking next and link to on-line educational offerings.
Current Events & Publications
Helping you run your design firm better. Problem-solving assistance, management coaching and organizational development. Help for start-ups and solo-practitioners.
Relevant, practical and participatory education for design professionals. Workshops and seminars on design firm practice and small firm management. All are eligible for AIA learning units.
Retreat Facilitation Services
Retreats can be effective and engaging. Open Space Technology method is used to maximize participation and results for design firms, academic institutions, and non-profit organizations.
Over twenty years experience in residential design and construction. Services offered include: residential design consultation; expert witness services; code consulting and compliance inspection.
Recent blog posts
- Want to Be More Profitable? Here's How
- Key Financial Indicators and Profit Planning
- Architecture Business Plan Competition
- Podcast: How Business Consultants Will Help Small Firm Architects to Build Better Businesses with Rena Klein, FAIA
- Eco-Home Magazine Winter 2013: When Design-Bid-Build Doesn't Cut It
- AIA New York eOcculus: The New Normal
- The Principal's Dilemma
- Provide Self-Aware Leadership
- Thriving in the New Norm: Strategies for Post-Recession Success
- How Wide Is your Triangle? Business Models for Design Firms
From Enoch Sears “Business of Architecture Show” – Listen to Rena talk with Enoch about strategies and best practices for small architecture firms. To view the interview, click here
Rena Klein, FAIA to speak at 2016 AIA National Convention, Philadelphia, PA
Wednesday, May 18, 2015, 1:00PM – 5:00PM
WE303: Small Firm Essentials: Avoiding Scope Creep and Maximizing Profitability
Thursday, May 19, 2015, 2:00PM – 3:00PM
TH207: Net Zero Energy in Practice: The Business of Sustainability
Annual Firm Financial Check-up
An annual financial check-up will let you know how your firm is doing in relation to other small firms around the country. It will reveal trends that are important to smart business decision-making and often uncovers operational issues that impact profitability.
Operational Improvement Charrette
Improve your firm’s productivity and profitability by engaging your staff in an 4-hour operational improvement charrette, followed by a summary meeting held the next day. The process involves participatory problem-seeking, then problem-solving in small groups of motivated participants. The outcomes are immediate improvement ideas, common understanding of operational principles, and an action plan for continuous improvement.
Are you working more than 50 hours a week?
Are you doing more projects and not making more money?
Are you considering next steps or leadership transitions?
I can help!
“Rena met with me for a brief consultation to coach me in the management of my small architecture firm. After a quick review of my firm’s business history, financial summary, website, blog, publications, and a recent proposal sample, she was able to give me some valuable feedback. She was insightful and encouraging. She offered some constructive criticism which I took to heart. Two weeks later, three, yes three, new clients hired me! Thanks, Rena for your useful and kind intervention! It helped me immensely.” – Laura Kraft, AIA, Owner, Principal at Laura Kraft Architect
Need help managing your firm or planning for the future?
The Architect’s Guide to Small Firm Management
by Rena M. Klein, FAIA, published by John Wiley & Sons, 2010
“One of the finest practice books I have encountered. It contains some great information for an aspiring startup architect like me.”
“An outstanding book because it is very complete in addressing all aspects of a firm, especially those topics that no one wants to touch upon, all well organized in a concise book. I’m encouraging all our Principals and Partners to read your book.”
Owning and operating a small architectural design firm can be challenging, with tight project deadlines, on-the-fly meetings, rush proposals, and fluctuating workloads as part of the day-to-day. To help small firm owners cope with the chaos and prepare for the unexpected, here is The Architect’s Guide to Small Firm Management, a no-nonsense guide to repurposing daily demands into workable, goal-directed solutions.
Crucial topics such as self-aware leadership, people management, technology, financial health, scenario planning, sustainable practice, and future trends are examined using real life case studies and business model paradigms. This definitive text explores the whole system experience of a small firm practice to deliver organizational strategies proven to keep a firm’s creative mission on a steady, productive path.
In my consulting practice, many small firm owners ask me how they can become more profitable. While profitability isn’t the only bottom line for most architects, there comes a time for many when they just want to earn more money in exchange for their hard work. And, as firm owners, most also want to be able to reward trusted staff and build the value of their firm as a business entity.
How a firm becomes more profitable can be a complex question involving many factors, including firm culture, leadership proclivities, market sector, client management, and operational effectiveness. Of course, to get different results it is necessary to embrace change and do things differently, which is often the biggest hurdle to overcome.
Key financial indicators are a subset of key performance indicators (KPIs) that can be tracked for many different aspects of a firm’s operations. For example, KPIs for marketing might include the “hit-rate,” a metric that tracks the number of jobs won relative to number of proposals sent out. For financial performance, there are a few metrics that are critical to quickly understanding the financial health of the firm. When viewed over time, these indicators can reveal the overall effectiveness of the firm’s project acquisition and delivery processes.
ARCHITECTURE BUSINESS PLAN COMPETITION
The Architect Business Plan Competition is intended to foster a dialog about the importance of entrepreneurship to the future of the architecture profession. The competition is open to registered architects in the U.S. or Canada who have considered starting a design firm or who have operating an existing design firm for five years or less. There is no fee to enter.
The first prize winner will receive a $10,000 prize. The second prize winner will receive $2,500.
Podcast: How Business Consultants Will Help Small Firm Architects to Build Better Businesses with Rena Klein, FAIA
From Mark LePage of the website Entrepreneurial Architect: On this episode of the Entrepreneur Architect podcast, Rena and I discuss the many ways a business consultant may help you build a better business.
We talk about everything from how the AIA is focusing on the small firm architect, marketing, work/life balance, ownership transitions, firm valuations and so much more. Go grab your Moleskine or open your Evernote, because you are going to want to take notes on this episode.
Have you ever designed a near perfect high performance home just to have it diminished by poor workmanship? How about a home whose price comes in twice as high as expected when it goes out to bid? Have you ever been caught in the morass of adversarial finger-pointing with a builder when things just don’t go right? These all-too-common experiences are the inevitable result of the traditional design-bid-build (DBB) project delivery method. read more
Thought leader and lifelong contributor to the business interests and intersections of architects and their practices, Rena M. Klein, FAIA, gave a talk called “Small Firm Practice in the New Normal: Learning from Chaos Theory” on 05.06.13.
Are you the founder of a small design firm that has been in business for ten-twelve years? If so, you are at a moment of decision, a turning point. This moment in your firm’s life cycle would be the same in any economy, but it is especially critical during a recovery.