During periods when I am too busy to take on new work, I am one of the best people for a perspective client to phone. I will explain that I cannot perform the survey for some time and if pressed I will give them a ballpark figure of what it would cost. While turning down the work, I will ask them a few questions as to what the survey is for and where they are located. This gives me some idea of whom to suggest they contact. I then have the opportunity to refer several surveyors I know to be competent. The list I give may be tailored to the type of work they need to have done and their location. I generally explain that the people I mentioned are those I would recommend to friends and family. I can depend on solid land surveying from the people whose name I give out. I will tell them that these other surveyors will be glad to give them a quote, but that I do not know what they might charge.
I have been surveying since 1971 and plan on working until I am at least 85. Looking forward I hope to being the crusty old surveyor people see still out there working 20 years from now. If I can continue to labor at what I enjoy, it will give me plenty of pocket money to spend during my golden years. I say this because the good work surveyors perform today, will continue to help me survey properties years from now. Conversely, the poor surveying done today, could be troublesome the rest of my life. We should all be doing quality work but we all know that is not reality. We are in the business of measuring things and we know some work just does not measure up.
On occasion a person will tell me they had a quote for the same job from someone I don’t know and I will explain that all surveyors should do the same amount of work. Within my conversation there will be an explanation how in order to survey their lot, I must look at the surrounding properties to see if there are conflicts that exist and elaborate as to why it all takes time. I explain that everyone I know charges for their travel time so if a person quotes XXX dollars for a lot stakeout it will include driving time, office review time, note preparation, as well as deed research for surrounding deeds and plans. That might be and hour and a half before anything is done on site. There are times when bids I hear are so low I can’t imagine the surveyor makes any money at all unless there are added costs later. Are they charging less per hour than auto mechanics at a dealership?
I received a phone message from a local surveyor that performs work I trust. He asked me if I was still in business as he was getting all these referrals from me for property surveys. I chuckled inside and got back to him to let him know I was indeed still in business but just very busy. Since I respect his work I suggested people contact him for a bid. This interaction between us made us both feel good. Assuming he gets a referred job, if I decide to take a future lot survey next to the one he did, the pins and markers will be correct and I will have made my job easier partly by the result of helping out my trusted fellow surveyor.
In the process of a past survey I found out that an old semi-retired surveyor had done the survey next door. I did not have any experience with this man’s work and was cautious in accepting what appeared to be fairly newly placed corner pins. When I come to a lot and see fresh pins I tend to discount them and look for the monuments that the surveyor used to determine where to set his new pins. The area was complicated and required pro rating the deed distances and when I was done with my calculations I looked at his pins and saw he did the exact same thing as I. This wrote on my brain a mental note about that surveyor and how careful he had been and his professionalism in doing the work to come to the correct conclusion. For some years after that, when people from his area called and I was giving recommendations, I urged people to call him for a quote and vouched that he did very good surveying and also that since he was retired and now worked only part time he might require a few phone calls before they connected. Again, this gave me a good feeling inside to possibly help a fellow surveyor out and also to help a home owner get their job done, and prepared for when I staked the neighbor’s lot at some future date.
Have you ever gone out to start a survey and found pins with fresh caps by a recent surveyor and while doing your field homework saw that there were many undiscovered pins that were obviously not dug up and did you wonder on what they based their new pins? Then you calculate and the new pins don’t measure and the old ones you found do? I see this and consequently do not give those names out.
Those of us who take calls from potential clients need to take a few minutes and help our profession out by explaining to people what is involved in a proper survey and why the cost might appear to be higher than expected. Then if we find they are not interested we can suggest they call “Accurate Measures Inc.” or “Bob Plumb Surveying” and get quotes from them. When we steer clients to surveyors who do good work we are setting the stage for easier surveys for ourselves for years to come.
We all know that some doctors’, attorneys’ and teachers’ competency, skills, and performance are better than others. The same applies to engineers, lawyers, architects and surveyors. Just as you would send someone you like to the best doctor you know, please do the same when making recommendations of other surveyors. You will be doing yourself a favor.