Do building product manufacturers do enough to support architects?

By Marcy Marro, Editor

 

Are building product manufacturers doing everything they can to support architects using their products? According to a new study byThe American Institute of Architects (AIA), maybe not.

The landmark study, "The Architect's Journey to Specification," assesses the cultural, technical and information influences in the choices made by America's building design professionals. The research looking into the preferences, habits and attitudes of architects in their roles as specifiers of building products also shows that transparency and knowledge sharing are critical to influencing choices about products to be used.

Offering a wealth of insights into the role of the architect in specification, the study notes architects are calling on building product manufacturers to advance their digital capabilities, as well as their ability to consult and advice customers throughout the many phases of a construction project.

Michele Russo, Senior Director of Research for the AIA, says the architect's role in specification is well-known in the construction industry, but how they make their choices and decisions is often confusing to many. "The Architect's Journey to Specification provides a broad view into the process for architects across the United States, in small and large firms, focusing on multiple project types, across the design, specification, and approval stages of a project," she says.

In the architecture and construction industry, relationships are important, especially as architects and designers are inclined to rely on products they've used in the past, putting trust in products they are familiar with. The study reinforces that architects are interested in long-term relationships with trusted partners who can provide additional knowledge and expertise.

Recommendations from the report include:

  1. Improved websites. Architects want product websites that are clear, concise, up-to-date, and easy to navigate. They also want easy access (no sign-up to view product information) and access to detailed information, including building information models and objects.
  2. Focus on education. Architects are required to take continuing education courses in order to maintain their license. Manufacturers can capitalize on this by creating and offering online and face-to-face educational programming that qualifies for continuing education credits. Beware the product pitch disguised as education. Relationships have been damaged over such miscues.
  3. Be an expert. Architects want to talk to manufacturer representatives who know technical information about the product. Manufacturers should prepare your sales force to be highly knowledgeable about their products-and arm them with specifications for those products.
  4. Be proactive. Architects see manufacturers as important influence agents in specification phase of a project. Their time is typically very limited, so manufacturers should prepare their sales teams to understand the customer's pain points first. That can help lead to a larger discussion about new product lines.
  5. Be transparent. The more open a manufacturer can be about the specification for a product, the more loyalty and trust will be fostered with the architect. This will translate to greater market share, as architects start to look at the manufacturer as an extension of their project teams. 

John Crosby, managing director of corporate partnerships at AIA, says the report has major implications for manufacturers of building and construction materials. "The level of detail in the results provides a roadmap for future engagement with architects in order to gain preference in specification choices," he says. "The ability to filter the data online makes this report a must-have planning resource." 

Do you feel you get enough support from building product manufacturers? What else can they do to ensure you have the information and support you need?

We'd love to hear your thoughts.

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