The team at LSI Architects has extensive experience of undertaking projects for clients of all types, including major contractors, commercial, public sector and private clients throughout the UK.
We spent five minutes with Ben and asked him some questions about running a business.
How do you engage with and motivate employees?
I am really open and honest with them and trust them with opportunities to stretch themselves but with the knowledge that we will be there to support them if they fall over. Small regular investments in people are far more beneficial to both parties than larger but irregular interventions. Research backs this up, indicating that employees who have monthly 1 to 1s are up to three times more engaged and up to 21% more productive.
How do you maintain and enhance margins?
Firstly, try and deliver a really great product so the client sees the value and will be happy to pay for a really good service. The biggest thing for us is to be the best employer we can be. We sell time and ideas and if we have people that really care about the organisation, they will do the best for our clients.
How can I put my prices up and keep my customers?
In this industry it’s really difficult to put up prices! We are working for half the fees now that we might have been working for ten years ago. Again, make sure your client gets a brilliant service. Really understanding what your customer wants now, and what they will want tomorrow, allows you to adapt over time.
I’ve got this great idea – what do I do with it?
I sometimes have some great ideas and I sometimes have some terrible ones! The best thing to do is to share it to understand if it’s a good idea or not. I have a great team around me who I trust to help me bring ideas forward and make them a reality. Nobody achieves anything in isolation and it’s when we collaborate with others that we can make positive change happen.
What can I do about competitors who have an unfair advantage?
It’s very difficult. The construction industry is a relatively level playing field, so we try and find clients who value the same things that we do to create positive and long lasting working relationships.
How can I shut off from the business and manage the work / life balance more effectively?
It’s not easy! Exercise is really important, and I do have a lovely family that I enjoy spending quality time with. I don’t know if I ever really shut off from the business, but different scenarios give me different viewpoints and holidays are always a really good way to get a sense of perspective on things. I do sometimes spend half an hour here or there playing video games which does give me a break.
How do I cut my overheads and outgoings without negatively impacting my business?
Either something is a good investment or a bad investment. If it is going to negatively impact the business then it’s a bad investment and this is where you have to exercise good judgement. However, you do have to be open and honest with your team, therefore if we are making some changes, we always make sure we tell people what we’re changing and the reasons why, allowing people the opportunity to speak about it openly.
How can I move my business to the next step?
I’ve never done anything in the business on my own. The question is always how can WE move OUR business to the next step. The answer to that question is to employ really good, like-minded people who care about the business and create a culture where they feel happy, comfortable and safe. Be open minded and open to diversity of opinion. Business is often about taking risks, so there if is an opportunity to take a risk to make the business better, then think about it very seriously.
Photos taken by Phil Barnes Photography. Group photo shows LSI Architects’ directors from left to right: Ben Goode, Peter Courtney, Rupert Kitchen, Trevor Price (now retired), Peter Durrant and David Andrews.