The week that was…25-29th September 2017
Perth, weekend 30 – 1st October 2017
It’s hard to believe October is already here! This year is really flying past…In a few weeks I will be off to Paris for the PLDC and then before you know it will be Xmas! The last few months of the year will be very busy though. Work has been steady and there are many new projects in the pipeline and I got some speaking engagements too. On a personal level I have also a lot of pet projects cooking in the kitchen that I am eager to move forward with. While I am less involved in the day to day running of the company and actual project design works, I have increased my attention to some of my pet activities such as writing, knowledge sharing and since recently exploring the opportunities of Light as a Service. With the IoT and smart nation approaches that countries and project clients more and more seem to adopt there is new terrain to explore as a lighting designer. Where do we fit in, how can we remain relevant in the lighting design industry if non-lighting functions and requirements are gradually making their way into the lighting solutions? It is important to get a good understanding on how this will affect us and how we can stay ahead to make sure that quality lighting design remains the lead design priority.
Just a difficult client?
On Monday I flew to Ho Chi Min City (Saigon) to attend to a hotel mock up room review with the lead consultant and operator for a client who has been extremely difficult or perhaps I should say “ignorant” of the design process and the importance to look after your consultants to get a good result…it’s a long story…
I think we all have had these clients and moments at times…those clients who think you will do everything they ask, deliver everything they need, sometimes repeatedly because of their internal poor communication within unrealistic times and most of all without paying you. In this case it relates to a high end 5-star hotel and the project is now approaching its 10-year milestone! We are only part of the team for the last 3-4 years but the lead consultants and operator since the beginning! What keeps you in such project that creates more frustration than joy, let alone income?
Good question and quite honestly, I have contemplated a few times to call it quits, as has the lead consultant, but then you have put in so much efforts already that you do want to try and see this come to a good end.
What are the frustrations that we are dealing with?
First of all, the clients’ total ignorance about the project design process. Having only done residential projects where the consultant inputs are minimal they are now suddenly confronted with a multitude of consultants and an operator (Marriott) who all follow stringent design guidelines and standards requiring an enormous amount of coordination. The client appointed an engineering company to manage the project but with no experience in the hospitality field they are struggling to follow our lead and try time and again to implement the way of working as they were used to, to build a factory or residential unit. To show they understand the process, they just issued us with a process / organisation diagram indicating turn-around times. My experience is that the more diagrams and schedules they issue the less they really understand of the process! They also do not seem to be able to read or print from a computer as every time we are slapped with demands to send out hard copies…
Ah..and then of course there are the payments. Not once have we had an invoice “normally” accepted and paid. Every time there are excuses, the name of the project manager has changed, the company name should be different, a receipt is missing, the invoiced scope should be different, etc, etc…Then they need a hard copy to be sent before they can start the process and so on. I learned that this company has a department that does nothing else then finding ways to delay or deny payments…go figure…
Now we, the consultants and operator, who insists the client properly uses and pays its consultants, have huddled together and we will not issue or move to any issue unless all outstanding payments are cleared. This now prompted the management company to issue a payment procedure chart that they want us to sign…
The biggest challenge yet to come is when we move from the mock up room to the final “control” room, the final sample room that will serve as the reference for the contractor to implement all other 180+ rooms. We had huge difficulties to get the mock up room built to our specifications but I am sure they will want to cut (read: slash) the cost for the implementation.
In the end we did sign off on the room but with quite a list of corrections and modifications to be implemented, specifically the room controls were a mess, a bit like when the phone rings the shower starts to work…😊
Before I left for Perth we had an introduction to the new Connect Inline range, a series of modular linear lighting products that can be customised to need for both indoors and outdoors. A great initiative from Light-alive, in a market where value for money products are important to fight the cowboys that spill the market with their poor quality low price products. Good stuff!
Enjoy the weekend!