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The Business Side-Your Fellow Surveyor as Your Friend

May 1, 2007
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I have written a number of times about thinking of your client as your friend. This column’s topic is about the next logical step: thinking of your fellow surveyor as your friend. I saw this scenario develop recently when I attended a state society annual conference as a speaker.

One evening, some attendees gathered in the hotel lobby to go to dinner together. I was impressed by the number of auxiliary members present and the important role they were playing in the activities of the society. The group invited me along; I accepted and I was looking forward to seeing some of the local sites since most speakers at these meetings only see the route from the airport to the convention hotel and back. The final group count was about 18 people. After much discussion about local restaurants, everyone kept returning to the topic of a mythical restaurant that no one knew the correct name of, but that they all claimed had the best steaks in the world. After dividing into three groups and piling into three of the largest SUVs, we finally got on our way. As I left the convention hotel in the lead vehicle, and as we started to wind along the streets of the town, I realized that no one knew for sure where we were headed. After a while, I began threatening the group in our vehicle that I needed material for my next POB article and I would most likely write about surveyors not being able to find their way.

Soon, one of the groups behind us wanted to take the lead; we let them go ahead and began following. This led to more winding around, and a little later it turned out that they had no better idea where we were headed. All this time we kept passing many good-looking restaurants that could have fit the bill. But since all the drivers were men, under no circumstances was anyone allowed to stop to ask for directions. When I was beginning to think I needed to find a way back to the hotel to order a pizza, the lead car pulled into the parking lot of a restaurant, and the other vehicles followed. As we gathered together, we learned that a cell phone call to another party had revealed that the mythical restaurant was no longer in business.

So we decided to stay at the restaurant where we were parked. I have been out to eat many times at state and national conventions with groups of six to 10, but never 18 people. Often a group of eight requires a wait of about an hour. Since it was a Friday night, I expected it would be at least an hour or more. But, I thought, what the heck, my flight home is not until tomorrow morning.

I was pleasantly surprised when the manager told everyone to come inside, and she would open an extra room in the back and have us seated in just a few minutes. Not only was she true to her word, she also assigned two of her best waiters to our group. She must have seen the opportunity to make a good Friday night into a great Friday night. The waiters were great fun and tried to learn everyone’s names, motivated I am sure by a love for their jobs as well as the mandatory 15 percent gratuity for a large group.

On the plane ride home the next day, I started to reflect on the previous night’s activities. As we were riding around the streets of the town, I could tell by the discussion in the vehicle and at the restaurant that these people were good friends and developed jobs they worked on together. As surveyors, we are a small community of professionals. We need to cultivate friendships and work together on common problems; this is the only way we as surveyors have a future.

Many services that surveyors used to perform are being stripped away by unlicensed people. Are we going to continue to let this happen? Or is it time to band together? Recently, I was in California and the subject of unlicensed survey work was being discussed by a small group of surveyors. Their attitude was that there is nothing we can do about this illegal practice. But every state has registration laws to protect the public. I can’t think of a better way to be a professional than for you and a group of your fellow surveyors to file a complaint with your board against unlicensed practice. You will not only be protecting the future of surveying but also the public. I challenge every surveyor to stand together and stop the attack on services traditionally performed by a professional surveyor. All of us as surveyors are the true band of brothers and sisters!

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