Repeat Clients: 5 Steps for Architects To Build Stable Relationships

April 23, 2023

Tyler Suomala

Founder of Growthitect

It’s challenging to turn over a new leaf every time you get a new projects.

You have to build rapport, set expectations, qualify, and negotiate all before the project even begins. And there’s only so much time in the day, which means that pursuing new work usually comes at the expense of progressing on an existing project. It’s a troubling game of cat and mouse that can be difficult to balance, especially in the early years of your ownership or leadership career.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to share tactics that help you attract high-quality clients. To me, business development is the easiest lever to pull in order to move your business “up and to the right” because there’s so much room for improvement in the industry (the bar is set pretty low). But there’s another side of the coin that we haven’t addressed before…

When you put in the work to attract and retain high-quality clients, you want to keep them coming back for more!

Repeat clients play a big part in your firm’s financial health because they’re:

  • far less expensive to acquire than new business

  • easier to upsell, negotiate, and close due to familiarity with your firm

  • more stable as a result of their past experience and mutual respect in working together

In general, as repeat clients become a more regular part of your pipeline, it opens up more opportunities for sustained stability and growth.

Here’s 5 things you can do to keep your clients coming back:

01 // Communicate transparently

It’s important to maintain an open and honest line of communication with your clients. “No news is good news” does not apply here. You want to tell your clients the good and the bad throughout the entire project.

If something isn’t going as planned or you’re going to miss a deadline, then tell them ASAP. Listen and acknowledge their concerns so that they feel heard and understood. But make sure you have a solution in place. Instead of focusing on what is going wrong, focus on what you’re doing to solve the issue (and keep it from happening again).

Will they be happy with every update? Maybe not. But they’ll appreciate your transparency and value your solutions even more with the full context of each situation.

02 // Deliver amazing results

Like. Amazing results. In each phase. For every deliverable. Each time.

Seem too obvious? The issue is almost always where you don’t think you have to look.

I was speaking to a firm owner several months ago that was struggling to get repeat work. They felt like they were communicating effectively and they were happy with the quality of their clients. Their lack of repeat work was extremely confusing to them because they felt as thought they were doing all the right things.

After listening for a bit, I asked them"

"How do you feel about the work your pushing out for your clients?"

“Hmmm…it’s ok I guess,” they replied.

Here’s a simple rule: if you’re not impressed with your work, then don’t expect anyone else to be impressed.

03 // Do small things that exceed expectations

Contrary to popular believe, you don’t need to destroy your profit margin to go above and beyond for your clients. Include additional renderings, detail some beautiful cabinets, or send over some firm swag.

Small touches will leave a lasting impression. (Not to mention the added bonus of being reminded of your firm every time they wear a branded hat or sweatshirt.)

04 // Publish the completed project

Publishing work is a win-win for your firm and the client.

Publishing the project on your website, in the newspaper, or an A+D publication provides your firm with good exposure and makes your client feel valued and appreciated by your firm. Nothing says, “My architects are the best!” like seeing their home/office/building featured in a publication. It provides a good source of provide and satisfaction while helping to strengthen your client relationship.

05 // Stay in touch

You’re busy. Your clients are busy. And when a project is finished, it’s easy to focus on what’s next and forget about the past.

Don’t let that happen.

For one, you want to ask for feedback (remember the client survey!) or even offer additional services. But you also want to keep the line of communication open so that there’s less friction when beginning another project in the future.

Set up reminders in your calendar or email every few months to check in with the client. You have to be proactive in seeking opportunities - don’t wait for them to come to you.


Attracting high-quality clients is no small task. So you want to be sure to keep those clients coming back for more in order to develop a healthy pipeline with stable financials.

To keep your clients coming back:

  1. Communication transparently

  2. Deliver amazing results

  3. Do small things that exceed expectations

  4. Publish the completed project

  5. Stay in touch

And enjoy your increase in repeat clients as a result!

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