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The Value of Client Connections

by Susan Kemp, Marketing Manager, Hart Crowser, Inc.

The Client Connections luncheon is one of SMPS Seattle's most popular events, bringing together ten representatives from public agencies to interact directly with attendees in a round robin setting. It can also be the most difficult to pull off, because finding that many representatives who can fit the event into their busy schedules on the same day is a challenge. However, it's well worth the effort so that SMPS members can have a focused discussion directly with agency representatives to find out what they want to see in proposals and what really wins projects.

This year we added a little something extra. Requirements for including disadvantaged and small businesses have changed over the years, but their importance in upcoming contracts can't be understated. So we invited Mian Rice, the Small Business Program and Policy Manager from the Port of Seattle's Office of Social Responsibility. Mian noted how important it is that firms highlight exactly how they help disadvantaged businesses in their proposals, and that they answer questions such as: Does your firm provide debriefing for DBEs that were not selected to be a part of your team? Does your firm provide mentorship to DBEs? Have you helped DBEs with internships or allowed them to use your equipment, computers, and so on?

These types of bigger picture questions are important to other public entities as well. For example, John White, Assistant Regional Administrator from the Washington Staet Department of Transpotation, emphasized that showing how involved your firm is in community engagement will be important for upcoming WSDOT work.

Comments about the most valuable part of the session from our after-luncheon survey included:

  • The broad range of clients were superb!
  • Knowing where the industry is headed.
  • Face-to-face time with the client reps.
  • Openness of clients to answer any question we had... very friendly and acommodating.
  • Puts a face to contract/procurement folks.
  • Learning the importance of SMWBE in building project teams for public work.

We hope to see you at Client Connections new year!

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