Editorial: Create some excitement!

Mar 12, 2014

Eight suggestions from Mark Zweig to motivate staff, from office decor to proposal-making.

I can’t stand it when my seven-year-old tells us how bored she is. Drives me absolutely insane! But I’m afraid that boredom is a big problem in the A/E/P and environmental business today. Many companies have boring marketing materials. Their websites are boring. Their proposals and presentations are boring. Their workplaces are boring. Their projects are boring. And the boringness of it all is costly to the firms’ ability to sell work, recruit and retain motivated staff members, and attract outside sources of capital. Tolerating all this boredom could be costing you big money – not to mention boring you, too. So why not make things more exciting? Here are some things you could do:
  1. Jazz up your office. We went into an engineering firm office the other day. It was so bad, so stale, so boring – I was amazed. I thought I had time-travelled back 30 years to the Carter and Burgess 1100 Macon Street Annex (a converted bus garage). Although office expenses are pure overhead, a new office can really boost morale, communications and efficiency. And while you are at it, get the largest sign your city and landlord will allow, and cut down those crazy large shrubs that scratch every visitor’s car in your parking lot.
  2. Refresh your graphic image. Still locked in blue and grey from 1985? Maybe now is the time to make some changes. A new look on the outside connotes a new look on the inside. Good graphic design is not something everyone has in-house. You may need to get some outside expertise involved to develop some new options that look good in 2014 so you aren’t so booooooooring.
  3. Redo your website. Again, we see many firms with surprisingly horrible and boring websites. If you want to look like a firm that has its stuff together, you need a website that reflects how clients select A/E/P and environmental firms today. For many client types, that will be based on specialized knowledge of their particular industry or organization type. Yet, most firms’ sites are organized around discipline and geography. Not to mention the horrible boring project photos and bad fonts. Hmmmm…
  4. Do a new proposal from scratch. Stop using the tired old material and formats and get out a clean sheet of paper instead. It should be fun! Do something all new! Answer the question of why the client should hire your firm clearly and succinctly! Cut out every single other bit of boring and unnecessary information.
  5. Put some humor in a presentation. Why not have a little fun? Do it in good taste, but make your presentations funnier than they are. If some are afraid that this is “unprofessional” (always a boring thing to say), at least make a presentation more exciting. Videos. Interviews. Live reports from the job site. Something to make it different, better and more memorable for those who see and hear it.
  6. Add some excitement to a meeting. Kit Kat bars. Jugglers. Comediennes. I’m not kidding about the boring planning and staff meetings. They are horrible! Put some life in them.
  7. Hire some new people. New people are interesting. It’s fun getting to know them and learning about their backgrounds and insights. They bring a new energy to the firm, also. Your clients may find them more exciting than your existing people, too, and you could find out that they bring you some new clients themselves.
  8. Add a new service you’ve never provided. Doing new things for your current clients will keep you learning and growing. And that’s not boring! Try it.
Mark Zweig is the chairman and CEO of ZweigWhite. Contact him with questions or comments at mzweig@zweigwhite.com. This article first appeared in The Zweig Letter (ISSN 1068-1310), issue #1047, originally published 3/17/2014. Copyright© 2014, ZweigWhite. All rights reserved.

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.