Surveyors are accustomed to looking for monuments placed by some unknown prior surveyor. Their anonymity doesn’t necessarily go very far, because the survey document corresponding to the boundaries that surveyor laid out should be recorded somewhere and should carry that surveyor’s seal.

Jeff Turner frequently comments in his column, Surveyor’s Footsteps, that in his research he looks at the name in the title block of those earlier surveys or adjoining property surveys and he directs his trainees to do the same. Over time, he has clearly developed opinions about the quality of the work represented by a particular seal. Whether or not that surveyor intended to create a brand, that’s exactly what has happened.

Jeff clearly understands this and takes some extra effort to ensure the surveys bearing his seal will represent his best work and will not perpetuate errors or omissions of the surveyor whose footsteps he is following. Jeff admits he doesn’t always get paid for this value-added effort. I’d argue he does.

When I pay for a product or service and I recognize the brand has a high quality rating or strong reputation, I know that quality comes at a price. I can negotiate, but I can’t get ridiculous. If I see a price that is crazy-low by comparison, I immediately start looking for the differences. What’s missing?

When I have contractors come to my house to provide estimates for proposed work, I look at their truck. It should show signs of use, but it shouldn’t look like it’s one step away from the scrap heap. Is the company name on the side, and how is it displayed? Is the identity bold and proud, or is it muted? (The exception might be exterminators. I can understand why some customers may not want neighbors seeing ABC Pest Control in their driveway.) Are the licenses listed (if appropriate)?

In this age where social media can spread reputations, good or bad, like wildfire, quality companies should not shrink from putting their brand out there. If I see a surveyor working on a property and I look them up, I shouldn’t have to struggle to find who they are, the status of their license, and start to gather some information about their reputation for quality and customer service.

No one is perfect, and how you deal with complaints or problems can be as important as how you do your work in the first place. A complaint about a high price shouldn’t spark a tirade against low-quality, low-ball players. Stand by your quality. When you make a mistake or deal with a complaint, don’t fan the flames with anger; instead, douse them with a cordial acknowledgement of how you can work to fix the customer’s issue. If they are angry, irrational, or won’t be satisfied, you can’t change their opinion, but you can influence mine by how you treat their complaint.

In the end, a surveyor’s seal stands for a long time, and the brand represented by that simple instrument will be firmly attached. Make sure your brand is solid.

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