Relationships vs Partnerships

September 04, 2020

We talk a lot about relationships at South Coast. In fact, Bill Hughes (former President of Shawmut and my muse over the past six years) took our relationship philosophy to a new level known. As Bill sees it, “there are relationships and then there are partnerships.”

Everyone throws around the word partnership. Bill, however, has a standard measure of a partnership that’s become ours. Here’s how we define a partnership:

  • Can we sit with that client and discuss what is on the books for projects over the next 24 months? If they are willing to share that with you then that’s a good start!!
  • Does the client come to you and ask for help with PreCon? Plan Coordination? Value Engineering? Does all this happen BEFORE the project hits the street? Now, you might be saying, “wait a minute—partners negotiate, not bid!” That’s true. Yet if there is a REIT involved or private financing, they often want bids (more on that later!!).
  • If the client is struggling on another project we aren’t involved in (out of region), do they come to us for help (happens A LOT!!)? And do we help them in a fair and equitable way?
  • In the instances where the project must go out to bid, are we getting white glove treatment in bid review? Maybe they are driving us to number? Sometimes, maybe in consideration for front end work, do we get the last look?
  • Are we doing a one-year punch walk to ensure finishes are holding up, MEPs are working accordingly and functionality of space is working out? Everyone does an end-of-project punch, but one year later?
  • Does the client share with you the financing partner and do we ensure we are meeting their needs as well? (Today we have some deep REIT relationships based on introductions from clients).
  • Can the client and you sit down when the sticky wicket invariably comes along (when you work for someone over the course of years and multiple projects-it will happen) and work it out to the satisfaction of everyone?

If the client checks the boxes above-you have a partner. We are fortunate to have some of the largest providers of senior living as partners.

We have some select schools as partners.
We have a few architects as partners.
We have a very cool developer out of NYC as a partner.
We have a major hospital chain on the South Coast as a partner.
We have subs that are partners.

In my younger years, I fell victim to the delusion I could be all things to all people. Today I am better off taking care of my partners. That’s a big reason why, in the face of a pandemic that devastated this country, we have been allowed, in many cases, to continue work in highly sensitive areas.

It is also why during the financial crisis of 10 years ago, we had an embarrassment of good fortune. It’s because we had great partners.

Yes, it starts with a relationship but that isn’t enough. Whenever possible, we look to upgrade to partner-that place of trust and collectively working towards a goal.

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