Charrette Venture Group - RM Klein Consulting
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Since 1998, RM Klein Consulting has offered strategic growth planning, retreat facilitation, and management coaching to owners of small to mid-sized architecture and design firms. Specializing in financial and operations management, Rena helps design firms prosper.


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As of January 2017, RM Klein Consulting has merged with Charrette Venture Group to provide design firms with expanded access to knowledge and support for all the business aspects of practice.

While Rena will continue to offer consulting services and educational programs as in the past, she will now be joined by experts in marketing, messaging and branding, strategic planning, social media management, website design and more.

Rena is a licensed architect in Washington State, holds a Bachelor of Architecture (1973) from the University of Oregon and earned a Master of Science in Management (1996) from Antioch University Seattle. She served as President of AIA Seattle in 2002-2003 and was elevated to the AIA College of Fellows in 2006. Rena is the author of The Architect’s Guide to Small Firm Management and was Executive Editor for the 15th edition of AIA’s The Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice.

Management Consulting

Whether you are just starting your firm, managing an established business, or preparing for retirement, Rena and the Charrette Venture Group consultant team can help you move from a reactive posture to a strategic approach to accomplishing your professional goals. As an architect and small firm owner for over 20 years, Rena brings a comprehensive understanding of professional service firms populated by creative and entrepreneurial designers.

Services Include:
Assessment and Recommendations for Immediate Improvement
Financial performance indicators, administrative processes, operational effectiveness, proposal development, and compensation methodology are assessed. Findings and recommendations for improvements will be discussed and documented. Financial and staffing scenario planning tools are provided and a visit to your office for in-person consultation is an option.

Advisory CFO Services
Initial phase includes a review of firm’s financial performance indicators in relation to industry best practices, followed by profit planning and pro forma development for the current year, plus analysis of revenue forecast relative to staffing needs. On-going service includes quarterly review of financial results with adjustments to pro forma and analysis provided. Regularly scheduled monthly consultations are also included in this service.

Ownership Transition Planning
Rena provides ownership transition planning services to firm founders who are transitioning to second-generation leadership, or are growing their firms by integrating new partners. Stock or unit transfer roadmaps are developed along with cash flow pro forma to help all parties understand transfer options and potential return on their investment in the firm.

Strategic Growth Planning
This process helps firm owners envision their firm 5 years from now and work backwards to create a plan that results in sustainable growth to optimal firm size and market position. Services include a one-day in-person planning retreat, visioning, financial scenario planning and organizational design. Outcome of this process is a roadmap for growth with staffing plans and financial benchmarks.

Operational Improvement Charrette
An operational improvement charrette is a four-hour retreat that includes all staff members. It allows collaborative exploration of how to improve project delivery, project acquisition, and project management processes. Service includes pre-charrette planning, in-person charrette facilitation, and a follow-up in-person meeting to review outcomes and action plans for continuous improvement. An overnight visit and post-charrette support for implementation is included.

Start-up Success Package
Recommendations and practical tools will be provided to assist set-up of a new firm’s administrative, operational, and financial management systems. Six coaching sessions over a period of one year is also included.

Management Coaching
Management coaching helps firm owners solve practice management and operational problems, as well as make important strategic decisions. As a coach, Rena brings an outside perspective with broad knowledge of industry best practices. Coaching helps to foster firm development that is consistent with an owner’s proclivities and long-term goals, both personal and professional. Coaching is available to firm leaders of all firm sizes, including solo practitioners.

Educational Programs

Rena M. Klein, FAIA regularly presents workshops and seminars on firm management at AIA National and Regional Conventions, to various AIA Knowledge Communities and AIA Components, and to a broad variety of design professionals. Responding to the need for management education among small firm practitioners, Rena has developed numerous original programs including courses on financial management, business planning and firm development. Her participatory and engaging approach to professional education has drawn highly favorable responses and helps architects nationwide achieve success in their practices.

Educational Programs include:
Small Firm Essentials: Four Ways to Maximize Profits
This presentation describes four essential actions necessary for a small design firm to become more profitable – controlling scope creep, improving work processes, balancing staff skill with work types, and charging higher fees. Practical methods for addressing each of these issues will be outlined, including an introduction to important risk management and financial management concepts. 1-hr webinar or 90 minute in-person presentation: 1 – 1.5 AIA CEU

Small Firm Practice in the New Normal: Lessons from Chaos Theory
In this seminar, participants will learn strategies and tools for managing unpredictable conditions derived from chaos theory and systems thinking. Case studies of emerging practice models that have successfully adapted to new economic and technological realities will also be presented. 1-hr webinar or 90 minute in-person presentation: 1 – 1.5 AIA CEU

Labyrinth to the Top: Women in Design Firm Leadership
In Fortune 500 companies only two percent of CEOs are women. One can readily observe that in prominent architectural firms, the numbers are similar. In this highly interactive gathering, participants will be introduced to the current research on women in the architectural workplace. Participants will explore existing barriers to advancement and be introduced to proven strategies that work to retain and promote valued women employees. There will be ample time for participants to exchange knowledge and learn from each other’s experience in the architectural workplace. 2-hr minute interactive presentation: 2.0 AIA CEU

Making Chaos Work for You: Success Strategies for Small Firm Practice
Managing a small design firm has always presented challenges. While small firms have the potential to maximize creativity and enthusiasm, they can also suffer from uneven workloads, poor productivity, and lack of available resources. In 21st century practice, these difficulties have increased as unpredictability has intensified. In this highly interactive workshop, participants will learn tools for managing unpredictable conditions. Hear case studies of emerging practices that have successfully adapted to new economic and technological realities will be presented. Ample time for knowledge sharing with colleagues and thoughtful dialogue on current small firm practice issues will be provided. 3-hr interactive workshop: 3.0 AIA CEU

Nuts and Bolts for Small Firm Practice: Scoping Services and Developing Fee Proposals
Fair and profitable relationships between client and architect relies on clear communication of scope of services and related equitable compensation. This workshop includes information on critical aspects of service agreements and on strategies to prevent “scope creep.” Participants will learn to apply various compensation structures and fee computation methods that reflect the value and risk associated with providing architectural services. Basic design firm business models will be introduced along with how each can impact decisions about scope and fees. This highly interactive workshop includes exercises designed to help participants apply these concepts and methods to their firms, with ample opportunity for knowledge exchange with colleague. 3-hr interactive workshop: 3.0 AIA CEU

Nuts and Bolts for Small Firm Practice: Beyond Intuition - Financial Management Basics
An architect would never design a building without knowing the budget or financial criteria involved in the project. Similarly, firm leaders need financial knowledge to make strategic decisions in designing their firms. Most know intuitively how their firm is doing and keep a close eye on cash flow, but many firm owners do not really know if their firm is being profitable or if staff time is being used effectively. Yet, this knowledge, and the decisions that flow from it, is critical to the long-term survival of a firm. An understanding of finance sheds light on pathways to positive achievement and allows for early warning signals of trouble. Participants will complete financial exercises during the workshop and have ample opportunity to apply the material to their own firms. 3-hr interactive workshop: 3.0 AIA CEU

We welcome inquiries regarding your practice. Contact us for a free consultation.

Upcoming Events

AIA Albuquerque: Practice Management Boot Camp:
Strategies for Success (7 HSW) – May 12

Speakers: Rena M. Klein, FAIA and Todd Reding of Charrette Venture Group.
Managing a small design firm has always presented challenges. While small firms have the potential to maximize creativity, they can also suffer from uneven workloads, poor productivity and lack of available resources. Currently, these difficulties have only increased as unpredictability has intensified and the pace of change has heightened. At the same time, new opportunities have opened for those small firm owners who embrace change.


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