Stayin’ Alive, Stayin’ Alive…

December 11, 2008 at 3:04 pm Leave a comment

By Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC, home of

I am sure you all remember or have heard the Bee Gee’s classic  ” Stayin’ Alive,” right?  I recently came across a civil engineering firm in the Washington, DC area that is doing what they need to do to “stay alive” in this market.  It is certainly one thing to cut back on unnecessary costs and overhead or to layoff those folks that are least productive.  But this firm has announced to all of their clients that they are cutting  all of their professional services fees by an average of 15% across the board; from cad technician all the way up through the principal level.  By doing so they are reaching out to their clients and saying, ‘hey, we feel your pain, we know the economy is in shambles right now and we want to help you out by drastically discounting our fees.’   A nice gesture indeed, and just another way to fight through these turbulent economic times.  

All that being said, how does this type of discount effect the psyche of their competition?  Do they jump on the bandwagon and discount their fees as well in order to stay afloat?  Or, do they take other traditional cost cutting measures in order to preserve and maintain the normal competitive fee structure that they rightly deserve as professional civil engineers, surveyors, planners, etc?   I can see both sides of the coin here as I have seen this happen in the recruiting industry, but I am not a professional engineer (I have trouble maneuvering my car at the correct angle to get it in the garage).  As a member of the professional civil engineering community, is this tactic happening in your city, with your firm or with your competing firms?  How do you feel about this cost cutting concept? Conversely, when times were good a few years back, was their an uptick in firms inflating their fees?

Thanks for reading, I look forward to your thoughts.  And,  just in case “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gee’s isn’t completely stuck in your head, it certainly will be now:

Happy Holidays!



Entry filed under: Civil Engineering Companies, Civil Engineering Issues, The U.S. Economy & Civil Engineering, The Workplace.

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