Reader Feedback: Why Surveyors Must Charge More
I would like to comment on Mr. Philip E. Adams’ guest editorial in the recent edition of POB magazine. I believe the sole reason the surveying profession is in the precarious position it now finds itself is due to lack of business sense to charge professional fees in proportion to the value we create for our clients.
Texas is a typical state, where the total number of active licensed surveyors has shrunk to 2,500, of which 26 percent (over 1 in 4) are 65 and older with a median age of 58 (August 2015 data from Texas Board of Professional Land Surveyors). Twenty-five years ago, the total number of active surveyors in Texas was 3,500. In the past 25 years, the population of Texas has grown by over 50 percent, which means fewer surveyors are keeping up with a much larger demand for surveying services.
Technology has taken up the slack to service this increase in demand. However, with every cost- and time-saving technology we adopt, we spend less time on the job (both in the field and in the office), which then lowers our fees because we charge by the hour, not by the value of the survey. All the benefits of increased efficiencies we gain from new technology, we pass onto our clients. A far better way to charge would be to adopt a percentage of the value of the real estate we are surveying, as that is where the liability of our efforts lie. We are worth much more than we are charging our clients, as they need and can afford high professional standards.
I am not advocating price fixing or collusion; I am advocating charging an adequate fee that can automatically keep up with the value of our services and the liability we face if we do not produce quality, professional results.
To attract bright young people into our profession, we need to offer a bright financial future and the promise of a rewarding career. The only way to do this is to charge for the enormous wealth we allow our clients to amass in real estate and new infrastructure value. Only then will we attract higher numbers of the best and the brightest into our profession.
Professor Gary Jeffress, Ph.D., RPLS
Professor of Geographic Information Science
Director of Conrad Blucher Institute for Surveying and Science
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
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