Mandy Nicholson

The Creative Genius Corner

Lessons, musings and advice from the author of ‘The Life I Won’

Two Architects and a castle…

I have just finished my walk around with the 2nd architect I contacted to draw the rooms in my ‘mini castle’ for planning and building regs permissions.

First, I want to say that you don’t even know what you need until you start a project of this size. Because I am changing the use from residential to hospitality, I need both planning permission for change of use and building regulations application for fire safety and structural safety.

We don’t know what we don’t know.

What I have learned is that in Scotland the regulations are tighter than in England and you NEED to tick all the boxes, with knobs on!

Secondly, isn’t it funny how we choose who we work with? This really got me thinking about you and your business and I wanted to share my architects with you.

Architect one (A1) came on Friday via a lead from a website where I completed a form. He is based in Dumfries which is 13 miles away and one of my goals was to use local people, but I decided to allow him to come.

Architect 2 (A2) came on Monday, and she is local. I found her website and she lives literally round the corner from me, meeting my desired goal for the ‘local’ community.

A1 called me on the Thursday before he visited and asked me a lot of questions. I told him I had somebody else booked in for Monday morning so he said he could come on Friday before the other person (I recognised this as a great tactic, nod to A1). He was late! 15 minutes to be precise, which is one of my pet hates, so not off to a good start. He was full of apologies and said it was parking which is an issue in the town, and he appeared genuine and a bit flustered. His eyes lit up when he saw the house and I could tell he loved it. He was enthusiastic about my plans, about every little feature and about the project in general. He enthused, touched features, and went into every nook and cranny. When he left, he said he really wanted to work with me because he loved the house. He left and he must have texted from the car to say that he hoped I chose him because he really wanted the job, so much that he would do me a bundle price and guarantee to beat A2.

A2 came on time on the Monday morning. She seemed lovely but quiet. She didn’t ask any questions and quietly walked around the house with me and took some pictures. I showed her the rooms and talked, but it was difficult striking up a conversation. She was hard work and didn’t seem as interested.

I had made my decision within 2 minutes of meeting A2 that I was choosing A1. Cost was not a factor, she could be £1000 cheaper, and I would still choose A1 because he was interested, wanted to know everything and keen to work with me.

You are probably nodding in agreement right now, but I really wanted to use this experience to help you to think about why people choose to buy your products or services. Price, packaging, shininess is not the deciding factor in any purchase, it’s YOU!

I KNOW you will have heard this a million times, but I am going to say it anyway, people buy from people.

You are the difference in any sale that you make no matter if that is a book, a painting or a premium priced program, people buy YOU.

I have chosen all my contractors this way because we are working together on my dream.

So, let’s break down exactly WHY I chose A1 and what he did right and earned the reward of my business…

First contact

All I was to A1 was a lead from an online website that pops up when you ‘Google’ architects near me. He phoned me, which is personal, and struck up a conversation by asking me questions. By asking those questions he was able to establish I had someone else booked in and get in before them. All my communication with A2 was via e-mail, she didn’t call me. Not that no call would put me off, but when you are relationship building the more senses you can trigger, the better. Conversation and hearing someone’s voice can make all the difference in the decision-making process when you buy.

Never be afraid to pick up the phone or jump on a Zoom call, it gives people confidence in you as a person.



A1 made space in his diary to see me first and pinned me down to an appointment. This had taken 3 e-mails with A2 and there had been a day between responses. A1 created a sense of urgency for my needs when he said, ‘I can come tomorrow’. This makes you, as the buyer, feel like what you need matters, they care about it, and they want to serve on your terms. 

Make your client feel important by exceeding their expectations in some way, can you make time for them even when you are busy? If you are too busy to put your client’s first, then they will judge you and may buy elsewhere.


A1 built rapport from the get-go by using open questions. He was interested in the project, in me and in the history of the property. He was informative and communicated what we would need to do, identifying hurdles he had overcome with recent projects and being able to apply that knowledge to mine. A2 did none of this. They are equally qualified for the job and would probably both do the same good work, but building relationships is everything.

Go out of your way to build a relationship with your buyer, it doesn’t take much to do this, even a voice note feels more personal than a message or e-mail.

Follow up

A1 sent me a text literally 5 minutes after leaving the house, this let me know he really wanted the job. He offered to beat the price of the other person by doing a ‘bundle price’ for me. At this point he had nailed it and I hadn’t even seen the other person and they had big shoes to fill. This is clever because he would know this, and I had all weekend to think about it so A2 had to be something special to make an impact. When she didn’t, the decision was an easy one to make.

The best thing you can do is follow up with people, even a simple message, voice note or ‘how do you feel about’ question can secure their loyalty. I am not taking the standard ‘rate my product or service’ e-mail, I mean that little extra thing that makes you stand out.


Don’t fret if you make a mistake! A1 was late and A2 on time, and I hate lateness, but A1 redeemed himself quickly with his excellent communication and rapport building skills. By the time he left he knew what dogs I had, who would be living in the house with me, how many kids I had and what they did etc.

If you screw up, explain, and have a conversation, people are forgiving (most of them) if they can understand that you are human and make the same mistakes as they do.

A1 is called Joe and I have just sent him a message to say we will be working together, and he was so excited.

I am loving that my life right now is giving me loads of content that I can share with you to help you think about where you place your own limitations and how you can overcome them. Sometimes we don’t even consider things until someone tells us their story. 

That is why I keep sharing, because at least one of you out there will have an ah-ha moment from what I have to say.

Love & Colour

Mandy x

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