No one wants to pay higher professional fees for the services they need. Everyone would like to pay less. Professionals would like to charge less. However, professional services with knowledgeable, experienced, and passionate folks need to be around when they are needed. As expenses go up, those services need to adjust. At JHAI we have not raised our fees in over 8 years. We have just had a reduction in income, which makes getting through the COVID-19 crisis even harder. We have taken a close look at our reduced income and are preparing to have a fee increase across the board.
What expenses are going up? The standard of care for documentation for all types of auditing requires a great deal of planning, staff training, and oversight. The insurances, taxes, new bureaucratic paperwork trail now has moved from the servicing companies back to our own offices. All the Website access accounts now take a lot more energy to complete. Filing all incoming and outgoing emails, texts, and social media conversations are taking greater effort. This is part of the expanded Administrative burden. Add to that the requirements for continual IT upgrades in hardware and software. As the programs, which in most cases are now leased yearly in place of ownership, change all other components of the systems now need upgrading. This increases the cost for all the manpower needed to do the work, as well as study, train, and re-coordinate all the efforts every few years.
Costs to do about everything keep going up. All professional services our company needs are also raising their fees. All copying and printing equipment and services costs are raising. Rent for the office space keeps going up. Utility services are raising. Of course, our staff would like to make additional income. The paperwork required to manage all the teams’ consultants and their agreements with JHAI and our clients keeps increasing in line with all the other costs I have mentioned.
As client’s expectations increase and keep changing and as clients become more involved with each project or their representatives want some control above where it used to be more time is spent at our end of the projects filtering all the new directions, right or wrong, on those projects. We are seeing a great increase in those costs. A little knowledge can cost our clients a lot of money and time. Once a scope is set it is best to run with it. However, everyone wants flexibility and that costs more money to service. Projects are starting and stopping all the time now which greatly increases staffing and the ability to manage the office schedule. Even the codes and going through plan check and all the other necessary government signoffs are increasing costs. What were a few days of work can now take months. Each new code and all their requirements take more time to define and follow up with each consultant and client direction, plus all the approvals are a major undertaking. There are now many overlay issues determining each project’s limitations and opportunities way beyond what it was a few years ago. These costs make even designing what was a known entity even harder to lock down before starting the design. Each step of the process now required more knowledge and energy to accomplish than yesteryear.
All these new expanded costs to us, the professionals, are beyond our control and must be passed on to keep a viable company.
When time is like now with the stoppage of many projects due to the COVID-19 crisis or any recessionary trends occur the internal costs to a company go up. Clients need to adjust their project schedules. Some clients disappear. Some fees are lost in those terminations. This is another cost piled upon architectural offices.
Our Quality control measures always need to keep improving. This is tied to traditional architectural services and all the issues noted above. As we work on new efficiencies, other actions fill in those spaces and the total costs keep going up. At JHAI we attempt to stay as close to the state of the art while maintaining our knowledge, passion, trust, expeditious response, and caring. We are dedicated to hands-on personal care for all our clients.
It all comes down to expectations and what will be required to complete a project. The more hands involved the more the services will cost. Everyone now wants premium services, added flexibility, added client education, new government requirements by the people whom you voted in and represent us in each government department, better-defined accounting at each invoice, fast response, 24/7 contact, high-quality management, and many other new paradigm actions at lower costs. That does not add up and must be understood what it is.
We at JHAI appreciate the understanding presented. We wish we could afford to absorb all these new costs but realize that would be impossible without driving us under. We need to be compensated equitably.
We will continue to service our clients as they wish and tailor our work to each client’s needs. We are working on new ways to reduce management costs. Our goal is always to take care of our client’s goals, the design, and the stability of the office as a whole.
Thank you for all your past support and understanding.