At last, a client management system created for architects and designers

A reposted interview I did with

Meet Nick Smith, the marketer and inventor who is turning heads with his software, tiny+.

With a decade of experience working closely with architects and designers, Nick is fast building a reputation as an outlier in the field of business development.

We sat down with Nick to find out about the man behind tiny+ and his motives.

Thanks for chatting with us Nick! Tell us a bit about yourself, and why tiny+?

My professional career has been devoted to building brand awareness for architects and helping them put their best foot forward to clients. Through this I developed an interest in how software can help design professionals grow their relationships.

Usually wooing a new client and winning a commission is the result of months or years of nurturing a relationship. In my experience, most business development in design firms is done by the busiest people in the practice. And the fact is, busy people forget to talk to each other.

Collaboration and working together with your colleagues are essential ingredients in turning a contact into a lead and then a project. This is where putting some structure around your firm’s business development activity is vital and a Client Relationship Management or CRM system, built for your business, makes this process straightforward.

The people tasked with growing an architectural business are, really, senior technicians — not sales people. So they aren’t inclined to use traditional sales software. The way architects develop client relationships and deliver projects is fundamentally different from the sales models of, say, a consumer goods manufacturer — which most of the CRM systems out there are built to accommodate.

So what are the challenges a design firm faces in their business development activities?

Most people I talk to in the industry are quick to admit that they’re ‘bad’ at business development. That’s not to say that they don’t know how to win work. It’s more a recognition that there’s room for improvement in their processes and systems. And wish that they could spend more time doing it.

You would have seen this happen yourself. Architects and designers get too busy and forget to follow up with their contacts when they should. They forget to share contacts or miss opportunities because they’ve had a busy week or forget to pass on crucial intel to a colleague because they’re not in the office.

We built tiny+ to address these issues; to gather and share the information needed to close the loop.

So how does tiny+ work? What’s different about it?

tiny+ has been designed to consolidate a firm’s contact database. It’s been designed with the end user in mind. The software is intuitive and appealing to use and it’s unique in that tiny+ draws on real industry experience of how design firms work and deliver projects.

Contact lists are presented in an intuitive web interface to help a firm understand their relationships better. For example, it follows people as they move around the industry, keeping everyone’s contact info in sync, and it even maps an ‘organisation relationship chart’ for your key clients.

Tiny+ tracks projects from the earliest hint of a lead, through construction to the project becoming a portfolio piece. It is a kind of watering hole for the team; a place to share relationship news and project updates; a place to celebrate wins and losses. Essentially we have invested the time to take a user-centric approach, and craft an experience that will delight and welcome people in.

What have your clients been saying? How are you finding it’s being used?

It’s really the best feeling — seeing something you’ve built being used by people; helping people.

The architects who use our system are enjoying being able to share their design concepts with each other using the platform, and getting feedback. People are using our app to share site photos and celebrate wins around the office.

The feedback from business managers has been that they have a new window into business development and team activity. All of a sudden, they have new insights into projects being delivered, and the processes their teams are taking to win work.

A significant number of the changes and improvements we make to tiny+ have come from feedback from our users. So the way tiny+ works is based on the collective input of hundreds of designers and business managers, along with our engineers.

What’s next for you and tiny+?

World domination of course! Well, eventually. It’s a pretty exciting time actually. We’ve spent the last 18 months building and improving the product to where it is today. Now we’re taking it to a wider audience. We have an ambitious development plan to add new features, and we are talking to lots of firms all around Australia. Later this year we’ll begin looking to the US and UK markets.

January 31, 2018