We could talk about how we have employees counting on us for their paychecks. We could focus on our children and the cost of their education. We could (and sadly do) focus on many things that have nothing whatsoever to do with our clients.
But before we answer this question, we need to consider why someone would ask. Think about it-people care about themselves. They won’t care about the benefit we will receive from doing the work. They care about what benefit they will receive. In answering the question, we need to focus on their needs, not ours.
So what are their needs, and how do we fill them? Keep in mind that most clients will know almost nothing about surveying. If they were knowledgeable, they wouldn’t need a trusted professional to guide them. What prospective clients need most of all is some good advice. That starts with us.
Begin by giving the client some basic guidelines to help them make good decisions. Following are some considerations that you can share with prospective clients to help them determine whether you are the right professional for their project. (Most of these considerations apply to all sorts of professionals, not just land surveyors.)
- Knowledge. Does the professional possess enough experience to be more than a simple technician? How many years of experience will they bring to my project? How long have they been practicing in the area? Do they know the history of the area and the surveyor’s work they will be following?
- Reputation. Does the professional have a good reputation? Will I get a quality product? Can I trust what they tell me? Do they deliver as promised when promised? If not, what makes me think my project will be any different?
- Business Structure. Does my project require a large company with a wide range of specialized resources, or would I be better served by more personal attention from the professional who will be signing the final product?
- Personality. Can we work together to achieve the outcome I need? Not everyone can get along and work well with everyone else. A good personality fit is important. Will the professional take my calls and answer reasonable questions?
- Location. Boundary work is best done by someone familiar with the local conditions, history and document recording facilities. Is it possible to get a good boundary survey by someone located far from the project site? Sure. Are the odds high of getting someone that isn’t knowledgeable enough to do a really good job? Yes. Local knowledge can be a very big deal.
- Intangibles. Do I want or need something unusual? Do I need a specialized product or service that not all area firms are capable of producing? Does my project require a certain amount of creativity that some in the profession may not possess?
So what does this realization mean to the surveyor who owns his (or her) own company?
First, it means we should be honest with our prospective clients. If we are not who they need to retain for a particular project, don’t hesitate to tell them so. If your equipment, skills and availability don’t match what they need, say so.
Second, it means we should not be trying to sell them on why we are “the best.” The client won’t care how closely you can turn an angle, measure a distance or research a deed. They care about themselves.
Identify their needs, and then figure out whether you can add value to their project. Let the prospective clients tell you what you need to know, and be prepared to ask specific questions. Focusing on the clients’ needs will give you the best chance of becoming their surveyor.
What do you think? Please post your comments below.
If you have a viewpoint on a topic of interest that you would like to see posted in Opinion, please e-mail the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.