Andrew Cogar Offers the Chicken Coop Strategy for Business Development

By Mo Bunnell

Andrew Cogar shares the internal and external business development lessons he learned during his career at Historical Concepts and how he knocked Mo off his feet with his approach to building a professional relationship.

Andrew Cogar shares the internal and external business development lessons he learned during his career at Historical Concepts and how he knocked Mo off his feet with his approach to building a professional relationship. Find out why the secret to relationships and business development is focusing on the long-term goals and the small-ball tactics, why you have to be true to yourself to be able to connect with someone else in an authentic way, and what it means to be proactive instead of reactive during client meetings.


Mo asks Andrew Cogar: When did you realize that business development was really important?

  • It really clicked when Andrew started thinking about business development not as a means of getting business but as a means for the firm to get the business they need to forge their own path.
  • After one particular project that went exceedingly well, Andrew understood that those kinds of projects could become a habit rather than a lucky break.
  • The GrowBIG System is essentially about doing the right things so that you have control over the kinds of clients you work with. Being proactive gives you so much work that you can pick and choose the projects that you want most.
  • It’s easier to be reactive on the front end because you don’t have to do the introspective work it takes to shape your vision and be proactive on finding the right business. It’s easier in the long term to adopt the right principles to attract the right clientele.
  • Mo and Andrew do a review of their recent experience working together. In terms of business development, Andrew was simply looking to get to know Mo and the family and understand what he was looking for.
  • As an architect, Andrew is hoping to gauge how open someone is to suggestions and that’s an intentional part of the conversation.
  • At the end of the day, who Andrew works for and who he works with, has become more important to him and the firm than what he works on.
  • Do a little research before a client meeting and come with a set of questions and follow-up questions for them. Don’t be afraid to give some ideas away during the meeting. When you give away a little, you get value back in the things you learn. If you go in with a sales pitch, you don’t learn anything. Show up with questions, not qualifications.


Mo asks Andrew Cogar: What is your personal definition of business development?

  • Andrew’s definition has evolved to simply mean fulfilling relationships on a personal and professional level and not making it any more transactional than that.
  • You need to know where you want to go and what the vision of the firm is to know which prospects should be pursued. With a focus on relationships first, even if one project is not the right one at the right time, the next one might be.
  • You have to be true to yourself as well as honest and open. Selling a project to someone that doesn’t fit their needs or isn’t in their budget doesn’t do anyone any good.
  • Focusing on relationships is focusing on the long term. Doing the right things in the long term comes around ten fold.
  • The founder of Historical Concepts baked in the values of vision and integrity, and as the president, Andrew wanted to double down on what Jim taught him. Andrew took the set of axioms they operated on and took it to the rest of the team to make it their own and allow them to add to it. This gave Andrew the confidence to speak for the firm and articulate it to prospects.
  • Your purpose is your North Star. Your mission is the external voice of what you’re trying to share. Your vision is your five-year, big, hairy, audacious goal. Articulating those values gives you the lens to see if a client or project aligns with your purpose.


Mo asks Andrew Cogar: What is your favorite science, step, or story in the GrowBIG Training or Snowball System?

  • For Andrew, building out their Give-to-Get toolkit stands out the most.
  • Showing genuine interest in a prospect and how you can help them got Andrew and the team really excited.
  • The Give-to-Get helps you create demand for your expertise by offering a person the experience of working with you. A good metaphor is watching the trailer for the movie before going to the movie theater to watch the whole thing.
  • Each town and community are unique, so for Andrew the Give-to-Get is about documenting what excites his team about the town and helps the prospect appreciate the gems in their own backyard.
  • It builds trust while showing that Andrew’s team has done their research and some listening and dreaming on what’s possible for their home.
  • Robert Cialdini created the framework for influence that people use everyday and he decoded the six most influential factors in a relationship: likability, reciprocity, authority, scarcity, social proof, and commitment. The Give-to-Get checks all those boxes.
  • We only have a limited number of hours in the day, and by spending time on something valuable, reaching out is an honest expression of the excitement and enthusiasm of your firm.
  • If you figure out who you want to work with, you can free up time by not chasing work you don’t care about, and use the Give-to-Get method to pursue work that you have a greater chance of winning and that you love working on.
  • Think small ball. Going for the grand slams makes learning harder, and more often than not, small projects lead to bigger projects.


Mo asks Andrew Cogar: Tell us a business development story that you are particularly proud of.

  • There was one project that stands out for Andrew, where he and the founder of his firm, Jim Strickland, had the chance to not only create an awesome property but also restore and support the local ecology as well.
  • During the meeting, Jim and the client discovered they shared a mutual friendship and instead of talking about the project they started geeking out on chicken coops. That kind of interest was exactly what the client was looking for, a firm that was completely authentic to themselves.
  • Andrew set the table for that approach that allowed Jim to be Jim to the fullest.
  • It’s all about being true to yourself, listening, and then connecting.
  • The way that you win work is to actually start doing the work. The right thing to do is to start adding value.
  • When you do those things, you aren’t competing anymore. This gets the client excited about the person who is facilitating their vision. It takes them from a leap of faith to “When can we start?”


Mo asks Andrew Cogar: If you could record a video around business development and send it to your younger self, what would it say?

  • Andrew would tell himself two things. Focus on building meaningful, real relationships as early as possible with as many respected peers and people in your industry as you can.
  • The second thing is to figure out what drives you, what you find value in, and what work is meaningful to you.
  • Doing the work early can save you a lot of time and there is no reason you can’t start sooner.
  • Young people often have a hesitation to reach out but there is no downside. More often than not, they can connect you with someone else who can help even if they say no. There really is nothing to lose.
  • There are tons of people out there that want to mentor someone with energy and enthusiasm. Potential mentors want to help high achievers.
  • Start with good questions. The more you can question yourself, the more accurate and insightful answers you will come across. Asking those questions leads to a better dialogue with yourself and the mentors you’re asking for advice from.
  • Journaling is a key practice that Mo wishes he had started earlier. Reviewing your progress once a week is an easy and simple step that keeps you accountable and honest.
  • Having a tool to take a mental inventory of where you want to go and to remind yourself of your big picture goals, it allows you to let go of the small things and stay focused.
  • Write down the relationships you would like to go after.