2022 AIA Firm Survey Report: 4 Suprising Results for Architects to Know

November 27, 2022

Tyler Suomala

Founder of Growthitect

A couple of weeks ago, the 2022 AIA Firm Survey Report was released.

It’s a 54-page behemoth full of statistics on staff, finances, clients, and technology at architecture firms in the US.

Who in the world would want to read that?!


To be honest, I geek out over industry statistics - there’s always so much to uncover. Plus, since I no longer run my own little studio, it’s a lot more fun to read now that I’m not comparing my own performance to the other 19,000 firms in the country.

I know that I always provide actionable steps and tactics (I pride myself in ensuring that I tell you how to do something, not just what to do), but this morning we’re going to interrupt your regularly scheduled newsletter. This report has some golden nuggets in it that should make you raise your eyebrows like this → 😲.

There’s obviously a boatload of statistics shared on this report (I recommend reading it in full), but I want to focus on a few that are of interest to the topics of Tyler Tactics (clients, communication, business development, etc.) and what they mean for you.

Let’s jump in 🙂

01 // Multidisciplinary is in.

According to the report, firms classifying themselves as “multidisciplinary” have grown over the last 20 years and now sits at 44%, it’s highest ever.

So why does this matter?

What I actually read into that statistic is that either (1) more firms are accepting work from different sectors or (2) more firms are pursuing work from different sectors. Either way, firms are becoming less unique and specialized.

This is great news for firms that have decided to focus on a specific market or niche service. In fact, this is great news for your transformation statement.

As more firms pursue multidisciplinary work, specialized firms become significantly more valuable to their respective market.

To be clear, I don’t think it’s bad to be multidisciplinary. If done well, it’s a great way to diversify revenue and expand your reach. Just don’t fall in the trap of trying to do everything for everyone.

02 // “Client satisfaction survey? Hard pass.” - Architects

According to the report, only 21% of firms have conducted a client satisfaction survey in the last 12 months. Furthermore, 79% of surveys that were conducted were via direct conversation (in-person or on the phone).

Is this as crazy to you as it is to me?

Only 1 in 5 architecture firms are checking in on clients post-completion to evaluate their own performance. And if they do then it’s not even a “real” survey, it’s usually just a conversation. What?!

A client satisfaction survey is a very easy thing you can implement TODAY to do better than your competition and improve your business.

Put together 5-10 questions on Typeform and send it off to your clients within a week of project completion while it’s still top of mind.

Use their responses to improve your client experience and better understand your ideal clients.

Boom! You’re immediately in the top 20%.

03 // Marketing and BD budgets are crashing like crypto

According to the report, the proportion of net billings devoted to marketing and business development expenses decreased to 3%, half of what it was in 2017.

I read this and got genuinely giddy for all of my subscribers.

Why? Because if you read Growthitect every Sunday morning then you believe (or perhaps you already know) that marketing and business development grow your business. You understand that they are not costs, but investments.

The entire goal of marketing and business development is that your actions produce a disproportionately positive return. You devote 1 day to improving your question asking ability and, as a result, you build strong relationships with your clients. You spend $1,000 on ads and attract a $100k client. You spend the weekend writing a speech to cement authority and trust with your local community.

All of these investments will make your pipeline swell with high-quality clients.

The data is clear that you competition doesn’t know or believe all of the above. So I’m pumped for you!

04 // Thank you, come again!

According to the report, 70% of work is from repeat clients.

Considering that architecture isn’t like an iPhone that you upgrade every year, I think 70% is a big number. But keep in mind that this number encompasses all firms and not just one size or sector.

But I think there’s two bits of good news for you here.

  1. Clients are lazy. And I mean that in the best way possible. Change is hard and clients know that. Choosing an architect is an exhaustive process. Why would they repeat that process when they’ve already done it once before?

  2. Your competition is waiting, not chasing. And this makes sense given point #3 above. Getting new clients can often feel like an uphill battle. In fact, the report also pointed out that 2/3 of new clients come via competitive selection. So most firms rely heavily on repeat work rather than devoting time and energy to new clients.


The 2022 AIA Firm Survey Report is a 54-page behemoth outlining the makeup of an average US architecture firm.

And the average US firm is just that - average.

If you focus on maintaining specialization, client satisfaction, and investing in marketing and BD to attract new clients, then you are in the upper echelon of architecture firms.

That’s a pretty low barrier, in my opinion. It’s good news for you!

Growthitect is a newsletter that shares one quick and powerful growth tactic for architects each week:

Join 4,500+ architecture leaders already reading each week.

Share this article on: