Getting some new work fast

Sep 10, 2001

Want to get some new jobs? Need them fast? If so, you aren’t alone. We have seen a number of our consulting clients and readers of The Zweig Letter face major reductions in their workload that came on suddenly. And while, sure, these kinds of occasions do legitimize making the cuts you know you probably should have made long ago, they still aren’t any fun to go through. So instead of setting your air conditioning thermostats to 78 degrees, eliminating the indoor plant watering service, and refueling the company fleet at the discount gas station on the edge of town, what can you do? You can get off your rear end and get some more work, that’s what! Here are six things that you can do that will help get work for your firm now! Have good projections. One of the ways you can put yourself in a position to sound the alarm (which is my next point) is by having the information necessary to predict impending disaster. If you never do any projections, then how the heck can you know what’s coming ‘round the bend? You can start around the corner only to find out halfway there that the rail was washed away in a rainstorm! Start sounding the alarm. No one is going to do anything he isn’t already doing unless he is somehow threatened. Not that I want to be draconian, but that’s human nature. I would be darn sure that everyone on staff knew backlog was dwindling and that it was time to do something about it. They also need to know that it’s their problem, not someone else’s, to get this work. “Not my problem” is an attitude we commonly see in technical people, including the managers of technical people! Do a client satisfaction survey of some sort. These interviews or questionnaire results make fascinating reading that you can really learn from— if you are open to them. They’re also a darn good way of finding leads, especially if the survey is done by telephone calls or by personal visits. If the client sounds happy, simply ask them for more work. It works. Get everyone who can do it making sales calls. Believe it or not, we still run into firms in this business that think only principals should be allowed to sell a job! That’s crazy. Pushing sales activity down in the firm to some of the junior staff is one way to ramp up the possibilities. Tell the people who you want to make these calls to make 10 calls a day and to make all of their calls at the same time every day (generally, later in the day is best). There’s no reduction in their individual utilization targets, either. “The firm needs work, and you can help out” is the message from management. Hold a sales contest. This will seem completely over the top to most of our readers and may be discounted immediately as unprofessional. But if your survival as a company depends on getting new projects quickly, I would certainly consider it. Give out prizes like paid time off or a $5,000 bonus. Clearly define the rules for the contest and who can participate in it (there are some people who you may not want trying to sell work). Set a clear time period for the contest. Publish periodic updates on who is leading, how things are going, etc. You may be surprised with what comes through the door in the way of work! Find out how the leads coming into your firm are being processed and make sure they get treated like gold. Remember the Glengarry leads in the movie Glengarry Glen Ross? They were the special leads with the little ribbon around them, and according to Alec Baldwin’s character, they were reserved for closers. We all have “Glengarry leads” coming into our firms. Whether they come in a phone call, a letter, or an e-mail inquiry, they all need to be immediately forwarded to the proper person in your firm for response. I can’t tell you how many times I send in e-mail inquiries to firms via web sites and don’t hear anything, sometimes for weeks. Sometimes, I never hear back. That’s awful! There are most likely good leads coming into your firm every day. Do a little exploration, and find out what’s happening to them. Originally published 9/10/2001.

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.