Do You Really Care?

Mar 11, 1996

Ask any president, CEO, managing principal, or managing partner if they really care about their A/E/P or environmental consulting firm, and they’d probably guffaw and come back with some sarcastic comment that might make you feel as if it were a stupid question. But is it really a stupid question? Maybe if you delve a little deeper, it’s not. See how you stack up on the following: Do you care if a client is upset with your service? When you hear that one of your clients isn’t happy with the work your firm did for him, what do you do? Do you investigate the problem internally to see what happened? Do you call the client yourself to see if you can get to the bottom of the problem? Or do you do nothing? Do you care that your firm has not paid a bill? Does it bother you that your firm is getting paid by the client, but you’re not paying your subsconsultants promptly? Don’t they deserve to get paid if they did what they were supposed to? Don’t you care that the word could get out on the street that you don’t pay? Couldn’t that impact your future ability to sell and produce work? Do you care that you have an employee who feels mistreated? If you hear about someone in the ranks who is very unhappy, what do you do about it? Do you try to find out why the person is unhappy, or just rationalize it as his or her problem? And if you find that another employee is the cause of the problem, do you do anything about it? Does it bother you that this unhappy person could make 5 or 10 others unhappy if he or she can convince them that the unhappiness is justified? Do you care that you have a client who has owed you money for a year? Does it matter to you that your firm put out and then didn’t get paid, even if you are in a good cash position otherwise? Do you think it hurts your employees’ morale to work on a job and then see that the firm didn’t get paid for it? Do you investigate to find out why you aren’t getting paid? Do you think it’s possible the client is angry with your firm? Does it bother you if they are? If it turns out the client is unhappy with your service, do you care enough to make another attempt to please them so you can get paid? Do you care that one of your projects was just panned in the local or design industry press? Does it bother you that public perception of your project isn’t good? Do you think that could hurt your future ability to sell work? Do you care enough to try to defend what you did? Are you able to justify your project to the outside world through good logic? If not, do you care enough to make sure the same mistakes aren’t made again? What are you going to do to avoid it? Do you care that you have a turnover rate that is twice the industry norm? Are the employees wrong, or are you doing something wrong? Does it bother you that some of your more successful competitors are hiring your people? Does it bother you that a former employee is now in business for him- or herself, and is successful? Do you think turnover is an indication of morale problems? Do you believe that unhappy employees do their best work for your clients? What are you doing to change the situation? Do you care that the firm isn’t growing? Can you run a firm at a profit over the long haul and not grow? Do you care that no growth may be seen as a negative by your best employees? Do you care that no-growth means you will have to cut expenses in some areas every year if the firm is to survive, since other expenses beyond the firm’s control will undoubtedly rise over time? Do you care that growth is viewed by the outside world as an indication of a firm’s competence? Do you care that you are falling behind technology-wise? Is it O.K. that you are still using WordPerfect when everyone else is going to Microsoft Office? Do you care that your AutoCAD is Version 12 when your competitors are using Version 13? Do you think the software you use impacts your ability to hire people when you need them? Do you care that you can’t operate a computer? Do you care that you don’t have E-Mail? Do you care that every new employee you hire who is under 32 years old expects to have a computer on is or her desk? Do you care that your competitors are doing presentations on PowerPoint, and you don’t even know what that is? If you answered any of the above questions with a “no,” you may not care enough to be a success in today’s competitive environment. Do you care? I do. Because even if you are completely fat and happy with your own situation, there are other people to think about. The people who work for your firm, and their families, depend on your ability to be a continuing success. You should care! Originally published 3/11/96

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.