Don’t forget about the other people in your firm

May 14, 2018

You know, the A/E and environmental consulting business has always been driven by the technical and design professionals who do all the billable work. These are the people who toil away on client projects that bring in the revenue. Without them doing their billable work we would be out of business. It’s easy (relatively so), to tell what these people do based on their utilization rate and/or total hours billed to jobs over any period of time.

Also crucial to our success are those who sell the work that our line professionals can bill our clients for. Without them selling work, we’d have nothing to do and no source of income. These people are obviously important to us. We can tell what they do as individuals or in concert with others when it comes to tracking the work they sell – with either a new or existing client.

Undeniably, the people who sell work are so important to our firms that we want to be sure to give them the recognition and appreciation that they deserve.

But what about the other people who work in your firm? The ones who answer the phone. The ones who fix our computers. The ones who grind out the proposals, chase clients down for money they owe us, do our non-billable graphic design, run to the print shop, maintain our website, and pay our bills? Don’t they also deserve to be rewarded and acknowledged for a job well-done?

Of course they do!

And here’s a little secret. If you treat these people like second-class citizens, they will treat neither your clients nor their fellow employees very well. On top of that, the good ones won’t stick around. Taking these people for granted is a big problem in the A/E biz. And “Employee of the Month” programs are NOT the answer. The rewards have to be substantive and meaningful, and the accolades sincere, or you won’t be accomplishing anything.

Lots of public praise and good pay may be your two best tactics to help keep these “other” people around and motivated. I’d be interested to hear if our readers have any other ideas they’d recommend to help out with this issue! Give me your thoughts.

Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

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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.