Typically, editors fill their notes for the beginning-of-the-year issue with an industry outlook. I doubt I need to rehash the economic news that is already known by most or sum up that we are in the midst of an economic downturn. Rather, I’d like to investigate possible ways to withstand the current.

To begin, we evaluate industry trends. Financial projections for the construction industry report that building and construction are down in many application areas and in many regions. The international presence in U.S. business is greater than ever before, and more and more work is being outsourced. The green movement is enveloping many professional sectors, especially design and engineering. Additionally, mergers and acquisitions have swallowed many well-known manufacturers, and more are sure to come. Coupled with training and development, recruitment and retention are still big issues to face. All of these issues and more present business owners and managers with the challenge of designing new ways to make a profit--the essential name of the game.

But I’d like to suggest that profitability isn’t the only name of the business game. The impact of the surveyor’s work on other phases of construction and development is another key element to the lifecycle. Therefore, the quality of the work the surveyor performs heavily influences the quality of other professionals’ work. As Joe Paiva notes in this month’s column (see page 90), “Surveyors specialize in collecting data, but very often fail at providing the comprehensive service of taking that data and adding value to it by delivering information to their clients.” He adds that many surveyors are failing to figure out how to “improve the span and quality of the products they can deliver to their clients of the future.”

How do you feel about that? For many, pride and integrity is enough incentive to produce high quality work. But if this isn’t enough, correlate quality work to profitability. Obviously, the better the work, the better the business. High-quality output often rewards professionals with repeat business, footing to raise prices and increased revenues. This should be incentive to give your best. And sometimes the best means extending beyond your normal means, such as offering services to new market segments. This expansion can also lead to more profitability. See, it’s a cycle. A cycle that could benefit you, your clients and the industry.

My fear is that surveyors as a whole will continue to suffer from the same situations that have plagued them for decades (centuries?). This is because most (of course not all) surveyors are not the best business people. I don’t know why this is, but there are examples upon examples to support it.

With hope for a great year, this is a New Year’s resolution I wish to be adopted by many surveyors: “To become a better business man or woman by improving my public relations efforts, extending into new markets and recognizing how my survey work affects later stages of construction.” I don’t expect surveyors to conquer all of these goals this year. But I’d be happy to hear that even one of them was achieved.

What will you do this year? Write to me and let me know.

Suggested 2008 Focus Areas:

  • Know your business goals.
  • Know how your work affects others.
  • Improve your work/Upgrade your integrity.
  • Recognize how the construction downturn is affecting your area or region.
  • Recognize how international business is affecting your area or region.
  • Consider how you could benefit from serving the green/sustainability market.
  • Focus appropriate efforts on training and development. Marry these efforts to recruitment and retention efforts.
  • Expand into new markets, if appropriate.
  • Improve your business savvy!

To contact the editor, send an e-mail to hohnerl@bnpmedia.com.