Rob Curtin AIA – Business Mentor

At a glance

After thirty-eight years as a leader of private practices, I was frequently asked to advise on how to achieve more successful approaches to business development alignments within the existing structures of my friends’ practices. This began to lead to larger contract offers from established national level firms for senior experienced based advice on business plans, market penetration, and staff alignments. It became eye-opening to see that even in larger firms, the time to stop, evaluate and plan the business direction and mentor younger staff up into a wider business plan process, many times was not executed. Younger staff in many cases is just not receiving one to one mentoring, but rather may be left to ride the tides of the office’s currents.

Leading us up to today, I now consult to firms, lecturing, mentoring and offering interactive work sessions on professional growth with an emphasis centering on the firms’ business development growth. I strive to sharpen a team’s professional aptitude, raising the firms’ talent up to its’ best by stressing and teaching strategic thinking to upcoming professionals and emphasizing the most important lesson I ever learned; “RESPONSIVENESS”.

As a Business Mentor what do I offer?

As your mentor, I am considered an expert in business development with a thorough knowledge in the business of architecture and various office models and cultures. I function as a confidant, an advisor, a sounding board, a member of your team who operates through the authority you grant or invest in me.

I will guide you through the business development process and offer you specific advice. Together we will be accountable to the overall goals of the program, and any the specific ones you set for yourself and other members of your team.

Together we will address baseline issues of leadership challenges, management concerns, marketing and business development strategies, and financial planning issues surrounding the business.

Business mentors bring an outside perspective with an unbiased view and unvarnished opinions. I assist you in examining new strategies, implementing new systems and achieving better results in your practice.

My Approach

As an expert consultant to other firms, I have utilized my core belief that the epicenter of all the firms’ resources and systems should focus on a single targeted outcome—INCREASE MARKET SHARE and PROFITABILITY— and an increase of market share and profitability can only occur if ALL of the firms systems are honed and work together as an overall system – like the engine of a fine-tuned race car.

So, in order to do this, I draw upon my expertise in Business Development, Team Alignments, Management and Financial reporting to assess employee talent, current firm reporting systems, and your current employee training/mentoring programs. This process, I refer to as my CONCENTRIC BUSINESS PRINCIPALS approach. So let’s understand my approach together.

Concentric Business Principals

Each of these concentric principals must work in conjunction and overlap with one another to deliver the performance and financial results you desire from your business development efforts.

The first three Principal centers are







The next three Principal centers are



Business Development


Client Retention


Guide to the process

As stated earlier, an increase of market share and profitability can only occur if ALL of the firm’s systems are honed and work together as an overall system. And each concentric principal must work in conjunction and overlap with one another to deliver the performance and financial results you desire from your business development efforts.

Here are the efforts that I tend to assist in defining or refreshing if they are already well defined.



The broad goals and expectations are set. To be in a leadership position, people must be willing to follow you and believe in the direction you set as the leader.

Define company’s VISION
Define company’s MISSION
Define company’s GOALS
Analyze individual current principal contributions, credentials and productivity
Analyze staff utilization, staff overlap, staff credentials, staff productivity
Determine Primary target markets by project types and geographic overlays
Determine Secondary markets by past experience and associations
Determine need for additional expertise in Primary target markets
Determine core management structure and lines of communication
Outline STRATEGIES that support the OBJECTIVES
Outline key position outlines for either current positions or future possible positions including COO/CEO, Principals, Marketing Director, etc.
Determine performance indicators for key position holders
Determine key relationships currently held
Determine competitor base
Round table consensus with current Principals
Establish employee programs for mentoring and job development



Process driven where the delivery systems are operated.

Define all job scopes within the firm
Define key roles needed in the firm
Determine reporting structures and types of reporting for all
Oversee tactical approach to Leaderships Business goals



Results in – results measured – results reported

Review all project financials and % complete analysis with PM’s
Establish PM reporting guidelines for labor utilization and profitability
Review financial reporting—what currently is carried as General Operating expenses, Payroll, Debt Service, Leasing Agreements.
Setting budgets and profit targets for all divisions and group efforts.



Tell the world who you are and what you do

Analyze marketing staffing plan and support needs
Create marketing plan 12 months out.
Review of CRM system
Review of web-and other social media content plans.

Business Development


The outside face of all business capture efforts

Determination of key target markets
Determination of market segments where BD resources are best deployed
Define a Business Development process and who participates
Define a strategy for presenting to clients on Business Development efforts.

Client Retention


This end — is the beginning.

Clients are the result of an entrepreneurial culture. A firm must set out a codified culture around a unifying goal –turn good clients into repeat clients. This is usually the end result of all your efforts, but for me, it’s the place to actually begin work.

Many firms do not realize the capacity of ALL employees to grow within a culture and feed the company’s future work stream. Therefore the first place to begin for me is the firms’ Employee Education & Development plan. The firm needs a structured platform with defined programs, and methods of teaching and mentoring employees for long-term retention. This must be done with one eye on what you want to maintain in terms of the cultural base for the firm as a creative enterprise, but it must also be balanced with serious business acumen.


Each time the firm loses an employee with experience, a great deal of forward motion is lost and the firm is set back to its previous position. Employee retention is critical. A firm cannot grow when it keeps getting trimmed back every couple of years. It takes longevity and investment in employee retention, otherwise, knowledge and growth is lost to other competitors.

This will show employees you are interested investing in them and that this investment is a wise use of revenue in order to position the firms’ future. For you, business owner, this is the least costly alternative compared to retraining and enculturating a revolving door of employees.

My program carries a direct return on investment through a better trained and mentored up staff, which in turn is a better investment in the firms future.

How do we get there:


Conduct instructional Classes each week — rotating staff into appropriate classes


Work one on one with staff each week on specific goals and development areas specific to each person.


Assist in creating a hiring process for all hiring and replacement of staff as determined with you.

Facilitate weekly team meetings for marketing and project management.

Receive feedback from the Business Development point of the spear and make suggestions on a shift in tactics.


Review all project financials and % complete analysis with PM’s and teams. Everyone should understand a targeted profit margin and know how to adjust their work strategy to achieve it.

Establish PM reporting guidelines for labor utilization and profitability

Sound like something that might be a benefit to your firm?

Feel free to contact me for a no obligation consultation, we will outline in detail a program centering on your needs. My program is specifically directed to medium and small practice firms or even those contemplating starting a practice for the first time. I can do a little or a lot, I can focus on only a segment of your practice or employees, or take a more global approach if you feel you have your tactical tools all set in place.

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