Solo Notes: Big Leap, Big Service
POB: How did you develop your business strategy?
Davis: Making a business strategy in a recession is hard. I had to work with the money I had because the banks weren’t willing to give a business loan to a company that couldn’t predict sales and business goals. I didn’t have any clients, and I didn’t want to take any from my previous employer.
During the real estate boom, I bought my own computers, data collector, drafting software and total station. I found out later that this was a great investment and that I had what I needed to get started. Through word-of-mouth, I found a good accountant. She taught me about taxes and what I needed to do to make my business grow.
Initially, most of my money went into advertising. It’s very expensive, and I had to find ways to get my company ahead of the game. I found that online advertising was the most cost-effective way to get a good return on the investment.
POB: What online marketing tools do you use?
Davis: First, I submitted my business to the online yellow pages companies. They’re free, and there are a lot of them. Second, I placed my business with multiple social media sites, like Facebook and LinkedIn. They give me the ability to advertise and connect with people at the same time. Third, I made a website to inform people of who I am and what I can do for them. I created my website with knowledge I learned in those mandatory college computer classes. With the SEO tools I learned, I am able to place my website near the front of the search engines through the use of meta tags, keywords, and website descriptions. A website is time consuming, but it’s a lot cheaper than advertising in a phone book.
POB: What has been your biggest challenge as a business owner?
Davis: As owner, I have to survey in the field, draw plats, direct employees, talk with clients, edit online marketing, communicate with local planning officials, and submit and record plats. Some days I wear all of these hats, and other days I wear a couple of these hats, but it’s the time management and determining the order in which I place tasks that is difficult.
POB: How do you win new clients?
Davis: I have an advantage over large companies with large overhead. I can give detailed customer service to my clients. I can attend meetings with my clients when they ask for zoning variances. I can meet their lawyers and give them information that they usually don’t receive. My level of service is a big reason I have gained business in a recession.
My clients have, on many occasions, told me that my quality of work is just as good as a large company’s work, if not better.
POB: What advice do you have for other surveyors who are considering launching their own business?
Davis: For every property lost during the recession, a new client takes their place. That gives a new company a chance to compete for these new clients. I have clients that have bought foreclosed and bank-owned property because they could buy it cheaply. They weren’t in the real estate buying business before, but now they are. I may not get the large government contracts, but I am getting enough work by being a part of the community and having something to offer to the average person.
[As a profession,] we have to be proactive and show what we have to offer so that we can get more industries to value our services as land surveyors.
Compiled and edited by Alexis Brumm
Timothy L. Davis, PLS, owns Timothy L. Davis Land Surveyor headquartered in Aynor, S.C. Davis has more than 15 years of experience in large boundary surveys, ALTA surveys, wetland surveys, subdivision design and subdivision layout, as-built surveys, construction layout, dock permit surveys, mortgage loan surveys, farm surveys, mining surveys and land planning. After more than a decade of working for larger companies, Davis launched his own firm in July 2009. For more information, visit www.timothydavispls.com.
Solo Notes is a regular feature in POB and highlights the experiences and strategies of solo surveyors and small business owners. To share your story for a future issue, e-mail email@example.com.