Posts filed under ‘Marketing’

Steve Jobs and Civil Engineering – That’s Right. I Went There.


Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc
Managing Partner, CivilEngineeringCentral.com
View Matt’s profile & connect with him on LinkedIn

No need to get into a lengthy diatribe as to who Steve Jobs is and all that he has accomplished.  You all know who he  is and I would have carpel tunnel syndrome by the end of this entry if I tried to explain all things Steve Jobs.  Two questions for you though about Steve Jobs:

  • Do you know where he started?
  • Do you know where he ended?

Back to that in a moment.  Over the years I have conducted numerous C-Level or Senior Vice President/National Business Line Leader searches for consulting engineering firms where I have been tasked to seek and find a key leader for national or global practices that are made up of hundreds or thousands of civil engineering and architectural professionals.  Deep down amongst the two or three page detailed job description there is bullet point indicating that a Professional Engineering or Architecture license is required.  Not preferred. Not recommended. Required.

Different companies have different roles, different titles, and different philosophies on hiring.  The philosophy that a senior executive must have a professional registration sometimes leaves me scratching my head.  I am talking about executive leaders who develop winning strategies, who develop revolving 5-year business plans, who glad hand, who often accept public speaking invitations, who are responsible for leading the pursuit of projects, or who are responsible for meeting financial goals of the company.  My question is this: “Is a professional registration really necessary at this level?”

I know many unlicensed professionals in the architecture and engineering community who are operationally responsible for hundreds or thousands of employees and who know how to effectively turn a profit.  I also know many unlicensed professionals in the architecture and engineering industries who are responsible for driving millions and millions of dollars worth of revenue through the door.  I also know many companies who have needs for people like these but who turn a blind eye to these candidates because they do not have a couple of initials following their last name.   Is this an old school mentality?  Is this a company worried about perception more than actual results?

This takes me back to Steve Jobs; No degree…college drop out…yet an innovative pioneer who is a good listener and who was capable of delivering what people want- even delivering what people want before they know they want it.  Not that companies should make a habit of hiring college drop-outs, not by any stretch of the imagination;  but, denying your company the opportunity to hire, or at the very least consider a change agent or someone who can help guide the ship to its selected destination because they do not have a license, seems shortsighted.

If someone can provide innovative concepts to clients, productive and profitable business models, has strong connections and a track record of success;  if they are a good listener, and if  through the collaborative efforts of the skilled and licensed management team beneath them they could even deliver a concept to a client that they may have not thought of otherwise; if they are able to drive top line revenues and help your firm climb to heights that you may not otherwise reach,  then is a professional license at that level even relevant?

What is your philosophy? Have you hired your firm’s Steve Jobs? Or maybe have you seen the Steve Jobs of your industry join the competition only because you shuffled his credentials aside because he or she was not licensed?

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

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October 12, 2011 at 12:28 pm 7 comments

The End of the World is Upon Us! (Naw, not really, its just the end of the 3rd quarter)

Babette Ten Haken
Sales Aerobics for Engineers
Internet Business Development Strategies for Manufacturers, Distributors and Service Companies

Featured Guest Blogger: Babette Ten Haken
Sales Aerobics for Engineers
Strategies and Toolkit for the Sales-Engineering Interface
Connect With Babette On Linkedin Linkedin Logo
Read The Sales Aerobics For Engineers Blog

This is the time of year when many civil engineering and A/E consulting firms start pressuring their employees to complete outstanding projects for invoicing by year’s end. Now is the time of year when companies start pressuring their business development folks to bring in more work, win more contracts, make appointments with more people, talk to somebody, anybody who appears mildly interested in doing business with your company. It’s also the time when management simultaneously starts to threaten and cajole employees to become more productive and generate more revenue…. “or else.”  It’s the time of year when we sometimes sit with our collective heads in our hands and wonder how we ever got ourselves into all this.

OK. Time to climb off your mental ledge and get your feet firmly back into the building. While I am not about to wave a magic wand and tell you that all will be OK, there are some things you should think about doing if you haven’t already started. Regardless of whether your corporate fiscal year aligns with the calendar year. 

Some thoughts for teeing up for this fiscal year’s end and beyond….

  1. Next year’s business development campaign starts January 1 of the previous year. Clients’ and prospects’ sales years and cash flow simply do not align with your or your company’s need to generate revenue. You work for them, not the opposite. As you identify prospects and projects, put them into your “mental file folder:” is this particular project or client worth your time and effort, should they not be in a position to move forward for, say 12 months? Some of the big projects are won in this manner. You have to work differently with these types of clients and develop a strong understanding of how decisions are made within their corporate culture and infrastructure.
  2. Providing value to your clients doesn’t involve constantly jumping through their hoops. Some clients are sadistic: they treat all of their vendors in this manner, constantly changing their minds, upping the ante, and expecting not to be charged for their indecision and vanity. (You are not an advertising agency which self-selects for individuals who like living on the edge like this). Perhaps these are not the types of clients your company should be pursuing, even though they may offer the potential for landing big, juicy, high-profile projects. They may not treat you very well, while expecting you to put up with them and rack up a huge amount of non-billable hours in the process. If all of your clients are like this, how compromised and exhausted do you feel by the end of the year? Perhaps it’s time to clean out your client closet.
  3. Best may be better than optimal. While you pursue your technical quest for the optimal solution, how much is it costing your company? Unless you are an architectural or engineering genius and are the only reason your company was awarded the contract in the first place, you are part of a collaborative team effort. So communicate and determine whether the optimal solution really is optimal in the long run, before you pursue that design path. Depending on where we sit around the table, we see the same thing differently. Make sure you validate your ideas along with everyone else’s perspective. The best solution may be the most robust, in the long run.

What is your strategy for finishing up the current fiscal year? Let me know.

September 27, 2011 at 11:35 am 2 comments

3rd Annual “Best Civil Engineering Firm Logo” Contest

THE BEST LOGOS ARE WORTH MILLIONS OF DOLLARS…OR RECOGNITION FROM CIVILENGINEERINGCENTRAL.COM!

WE ARE EXCITED TO BRING TO YOU THE 3rd ANNUAL

logo contest logo - CEC

THE GIST

  1. All nominated logos (tag lines should be included if you have one) must be from civil engineering firms who operate within the United States.
  2. If the logo has a story behind it, we would like to know about it.
  3. Logo nominations can be submitted via:

EMAIL: info@CivilEngineeringCentral.com
DIRECT TWEET: http://twitter.com/civilengineers
LINKEDIN: By responding directly to our announcements you see on any LinkedIn groups

CRITERIA

Logos will be judged on a sliding scale based on the following criteria:

  1. Does the logo make an immediate impact by grabbing one’s attention right off the bat?
  2. Is the logo memorable? Is it uniquely applicable to what the firm does – enough so that it will positively embed itself in the memory of clients, employees, peers, etc?
  3. Is the logo appealing to the eye?
  4. Does the logo accurately represent the company and its services?
  5. Does the nominated logo accurately represent the firm’s corporate and employment branding initiatives?

RETURNING JUDGES

  1. Ron Worth
    Chief Executive Officer
    Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS)
    http://www.smps.org
  2. Dusty Burchnall
    Owner
    2 Fish
    http://www.2fish.com
  3. Matt Barcus
    Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of CivilEngineeringCentral.com
  4. Carol Metzner
    Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of CivilEngineeringCentral.com

WINNER

Contest winner will be notified by CivilEngineeringCentral.com during the week of October 30th, 2011. Winner will receive:

  1. Corporate logo prominently displayed on CivilEngineeringCentral.coms December 2011 e-Newsletter (13,000+ distribution).
  2. One month as sponsor on ourLinkedIn Groupe-update, “The LinkedIngineer.” This e-update goes out twice a month to all 5,300 (and growing!) members of the Civil Engineering Central Group on LinkedIn.
  3. 10 free job postings on CivilEngineeringCentral.com + Featured Employer upgrade.
  4. Bragging rights until next year 🙂

DEADLINE

All entries must be received by October 31,  2011

NOTE

Gist, Criteria, Judges, Prizes & Deadline are subject to change without notice as determined by A/E/P Central, LLC, home of CivilEngineeringCentral.com

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September 7, 2011 at 11:49 am Leave a comment

A La Carte, All-Inclusive or Somewhere In-Between?

Babette Ten Haken
Sales Aerobics for Engineers
Internet Business Development Strategies for Manufacturers, Distributors and Service Companies

Featured Guest Blogger: Babette Ten Haken
Sales Aerobics for Engineers
Strategies and Toolkit for the Sales-Engineering Interface
Connect With Babette On Linkedin Linkedin Logo
Read The Sales Aerobics For Engineers Blog


So how do you handle business development for your company? You do realize that every time you speak with a customer, you are making some sort of impression that will either make the customer: 1) want to do business with you; or 2) not. That’s business development. It’s about developing a customer and retaining them. It’s not about simply closing a sale or answering a technical question and then rushing on to the next one. Business development: it’s in your job description. Even if you are an engineer. Yes, you read me correctly.

So, how do you develop business for your company? Do you let your customers choose from an endless list of options and then add it all up? Or are you the voice of reason that stops them at a certain point and weighs the pros and cons about their choices? What directives does your company give you on how far to let the customer go before you jerk them back into reality? Or are you constantly participating in the bid process as your sole strategy for customer acquisition? You know, giving away everything for practically nothing.

If you are a “custom” company, then everything is a la carte. Cha-ching for you! How many of your customers are repeat customers as a result of this process? How many of your clients tell their friends about their experience with your company, which hopefully was positive? And does being “custom” set you above your competitors, in terms of the products, services and complete experience the customer receives from working with your company? Or are you perceived as a bunch of divas at the high end of the price-value continuum who niche market to, well, other divas? You create a great design at a high cost and people brag about how much they spent…while they complain about various aspects of their experience. It’s all part of “your” package.

OK, so you aren’t a custom shop. Perhaps semi-custom. Neither a la carte nor all-inclusive. That means you have retained customers who have provided repeat business for your company because they were happy with the products, services, price and experience you provided to them. Which means you are doing “similar but different” iterations of set pieces across the country or in various local municipalities. The customer knows what to anticipate from similar builds you’ve created either for them or other folks. You have created a great formula and understand how to build and maintain relationships starting with the person answering the phone to the person ordering materials to the individual doing the build. As far as the price-value thing goes, your customers feel they are getting a great deal (meaning a lot) for their investment because you include a bunch of practical stuff in the build package, based on your experience with other customers. It’s all part of “your” package.

Or you are known as the third bid, all-inclusive folks. The ones to whom the bid is always awarded based on price alone. That means you have a solid and successful track record of participating in public works projects and receiving the contracts on these projects. Because you possibly have turned your company into low-ball specialists. It’s all part of “your” package, which is basically 100% “their” package, anyway.

You know, there’s nothing wrong with any of these business development approaches. As long as you, your employees, and your customers “get it.” I mean, you should be focusing your marketing and sales efforts on the type of customers you prefer doing business with. Right? You just need to constantly ask yourself whether you are the a la carte folks, the folks in the middle or the all-inclusive low-ball folks. And whether you are doing business with the type of customers you actually prefer doing business with. So you understand why your customer base, and your profit margins, look the way they do.

Think about it.


civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

June 30, 2011 at 7:34 am 1 comment

Are you making others feel like they are on the outside, looking in?

 

Babette Ten Haken
Sales Aerobics for Engineers
Internet Business Development Strategies for Manufacturers, Distributors and Service Companies

Featured Guest Blogger: Babette Ten Haken
Sales Aerobics for Engineers
Strategies and Toolkit for the Sales-Engineering Interface
Connect With Babette On Linkedin Linkedin Logo
Read The Sales Aerobics For Engineers Blog

There’s an art to building and maintaining client relationships. It’s more important than ever before. Clients are becoming more difficult to “win” and their loyalty is more elusive. And the definition of “client” encompasses those individuals within the workplace, your subcontractors and the companies who have contracted your products, services and capabilities.

There’s no room for elitism in client relationships. Your clients, subcontractors, co-workers and boss may admire your skill set and communication acumen. However, they did not hire you so they can worship you. They hired you for What’s In It For Me (WIFM): what you bring to the table and how you build their revenue stream.

Your “wow” solution or creative design allows people to appreciate you for understanding their needs. They assess your ability at communicating and asking good questions. They are delighted in your facility in translating these needs to the various technical disciplines involved in the project. And they will laud you and your company for producing output that not only solves their initial problem, but perhaps moves their company further along competitively as well. 

So don’t ruin the momentum you, and your company,  have created by “wearing” an attitude that communicates you are “too cool” for your clients. Or worse, that your clients are “too ignorant” for you to truly impart the sum total of your amazing skill set.  Or that the language and principles of engineering and architecture are too far beyond the capacity of your clients (mere mortals) to understand.  Oh, please. This is not the differentiator you want to establish no matter how good you are, how educated you are or how wonderful your solutions are. There’s someone to replace you right around the corner.

That’s not to say, alternatively, you should be your clients’ best friend, either. There is a fine line to maintaining professionalism while being accessible to the full range of your clients’ needs. Developing the extra set (or two) of professional “antenna” which allow you to assess the context of business decision making is crucial to building and maintaining client relationships.  And while professionalism may extend into playing golf, providing tickets to events, and invitations to company social events, you still need to remember that you are hired by your clients (and your company, for that matter) to provide solutions, not companionship.

When it comes down to it, your client base doesn’t owe you anything after they pay their last invoice to your company. No matter how much they fawned over you during the course of the project.  Regardless of whether or not they made you feel invincible and infallible during the course of the project.  Repeat business isn’t guaranteed.  And the context of the next project with this same client may not afford you anywhere near the same degree of familiarity as you encountered during the previous project.

Think about it.

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

May 25, 2011 at 4:37 pm Leave a comment

Civil Engineering Job Interviews: Groucho Marx Syndrome

By Carol A. Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC and
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of CivilEngineeringCentral.com

View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn

The great comedian Groucho Marx once said “…I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.”  His self deprecating comment rings all too true with many civil engineering firms who wrongly believe that they are not worthy of attracting the profession’s top talent.  I call this “low company esteem.”What are the systems of this malady?  Frequently, they are manifested in comments made by principals and other hiring managers to external recruiters.  Here are samplings of recent exchanges:

•  “This candidate has a great background and has tenure with their current firm. Why would they want to work here?”

•  “This candidate will probably just interview with us to get a counter offer then reject us.”

• “This candidate has had great success in their past…they will be bored here.”

•  This candidate has always worked for top-tier firms.  Why would they  want to work at a firm like ours?”

While some of these concerns may be valid based on past experience, more often than not, insecurity leads to inertia.  Frequently, when receiving a search for a senior level hire, I am given the challenge to find someone that “will take us to the next level.”  While further prodding sometimes reveals that there is no internal consensus on what that actually means or entails, in the early stages of the sourcing phase, one thing becomes clear:  what they want is someone just like them who will achieve a level of practice excellence that they have been unable to through their own efforts and resources.

While no one would argue that ensuring a “fit” between the candidate and both the job and the company’s culture are essential to success, sometimes the counter-intuitive hire can bring a unique perspective, as well as seeing the firm through fresh eyes. This results in a renewed focus on using the firm’s talent, brand and market penetration to help it become what it can be, instead of the pattern of focusing on the past missteps and hurdles that accompany institutional knowledge.

The first interaction a strategic hire should have, that all-important “face of the company,” should be its best cheerleader who leaves every candidate hungering to join the firm whether or not the feeling is mutual. However, if interviewers suffer from low company esteem, they’ll consistently struggle with articulating the benefits of joining their firm over another and the quest for quality staff will continue to elude them.

Human resources and corporate leaders need to first find a way to assess, monitor and increase the morale and esteem of their key hiring authorities to ensure that they are adequately equipped to attract the level of candidates that will enable the firm to accomplish its strategic objectives.  They then need to identify and target the very best in the profession or market segment and approach their recruitment with the same unabashed abandoned as did Saturday Night Live’s “Stewart Smalley” character:  “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and, gosh darn it, people like me.”

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

March 24, 2011 at 1:03 pm 1 comment

And The Winner Is…

When Carol & I tossed the idea around in 2007 of starting a niche civil engineering job board and a corresponding blog, one of the first things we set out to do was hire someone to develop a logo that we felt was eye catching, that was memorable, and that was applicable to what we were looking to accomplish.  It was an interesting process coming up with the concept and working through our differences, but at the end of the day we were extremely excited about the final outcome.  Our logo designer, Dusty Burchnall of 2Fish Group  was not only attentive and understanding of what we were looking for, but he was also extremely patient.  We understand there are many factors that go into the design of a corporate logo and it can be a very emotional process, and rightfully so.  It can also be a very personal process.  That said, we would like to thank all of this year’s firms that entered our contest. Though there is only one winner here, at the end of the day as long as you and your employees can stand tall and proud behind your logo and what it represents, that is all that truly matters.  So, without further ado, the 2010 winner of CivilEngineeringCentral.com’s Best Civil Engineering Logo Contest goes to:

The battle for the top spot was extremely competitive this year, but when the final tallying was complete our winner was S&ME out of Raleigh, NC.   S&ME is a geotechnical, environmental, construction materials engineering & testing, industrial health & safety, solid waste engineering, cultural resources and natural resources firm. Headquartered in Raleigh, NC with 26 locations in the southeast USA. They are employee owned and 1,000 employee strong.

From S&ME, “Our mission is to safely deliver excellent client service through responsiveness and technical excellence; provide fulfilling careers and professional satisfaction to our employees; and achieve financial success that provides company growth and rewards our employees.” 

According to Dianne Yusko, Communications Specialist with S&ME,  with the exception of one color change, S&ME has carried the same logo since 1973!   Their logo arrow represents their original service of geotechnical and geology. The bottom arrow represents subsurface stratification. The top arrow represents the firm’s work above ground.  They have used their signature PMS 476 brown to represent the earth and their PMS 158 orange to represent their commitment to safety on the job.

 The judging criteria for the contest was based upon the following questions that were posed to the judges as they were asked to respond with a numeric point value on a sliding scale of 1-5.  The logo with the highest cumulative point total was the winner:

1. Does the logo make an immediate impact by grabbing one’s attention right off the bat?

2. Is the logo memorable? Is it uniquely applicable to what the firm does – enough so that it will positively embed itself in the memory of clients, employees, peers, etc?

3. Is the logo appealing to the eye?

4. Does the logo accurately represent the company and its services?

5. Does the nominated logo accurately represent the firm’s corporate and employment branding initiatives?



Finally, we would like to give thanks to the following judges for their commitment in making this another highly successful contest:

Ron Worth 
Chief Executive Officer
Society for Marketing Professional Services

Lizz Pellet 
Chief Culture Officer
EMERGE International

Dusty Burchnall
Owner / Web & Graphic Designer
2Fish Group

Carol Metzner
Managing Partner – CivilEngineeringCentral.com
President – The Metzner Group

Matt Barcus
Managing Partner – CivilEngineeringCentral.com
President-Precision Executive Search

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

December 8, 2010 at 11:05 am Leave a comment

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