Plant your tree today

Mar 03, 2024

It’s never too late for firm leaders to set strategic goals and start investing in their companies.

Is your business ready to grow? Are you ready to make some positive changes? January always starts with fresh ideas, lots of initiative, and big goals. Don’t let those fizzle out as the year progresses! Haven’t done any strategic planning for your firm for 2024, yet? It’s not too late – you can do it now. Assemble the leaders within your firm and take a half day to brainstorm and set goals for 2024. It doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming. (Remember KISS – Keep It Super Simple.)

Maybe you want to increase your fees for certain clients or certain projects. Discuss as a team how you can make that a reality. How much do you want to increase your fee? How do you have those conversations with clients? It’s about showing your value and what you provide. Go into it confidently, and the conversation is likely to be easier than you think it will be.

Do you need to set up a better project process? This may seem like a daunting task, but it helps to break it up into mini goals. Focus on accomplishing one small step of the process per month, and then at the end of the year you’ve got 12 new steps for an improved process. Writing down your goals helps you and your team understand where your firm is going and what steps to take to accomplish those goals. Be very clear about these goals. Setting expectations and accountability will increase success.

Marketing is often a weak point because many firms have been so busy taking care of clients and projects that they have neglected this area of their business. But I can’t stress enough the importance of consistently marketing your firm and investing in your marketing strategies – those who do so are more profitable and see fewer dips during slow times. Here are just a few things you can commit to doing in 2024:

  • Update your website content. This is going to be one of the first places that prospective clients come to learn more about your firm. Make sure the content is consistent with your brand and message. Introduce your employees and highlight their history with your firm. Make sure to update your portfolio with recent successful projects (including high-quality photos, a basic description of the work completed and testimonials from the clients).
  • Invest in client relationships. Whether through face-to-face interactions or just picking up the phone, you need to make sure your clients know they are appreciated, listened to, and respected.
  • Increase your social media presence. Consistently posting on your social media profile(s) is so important. Do a regular employee spotlight, show photos of current and completed projects, give a “behind the scenes” look at your office or jobsite, share any awards or accolades you’ve received, highlight any community projects your firm has been involved with – the possibilities are endless!
  • Gather client feedback for letters of recommendation. These can be used on marketing collateral (website, social media, brochures, etc.). Don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth and testimonials!

Now, let’s talk about recruiting. This will continue to be at the forefront for many in the industry. Are you attending career fairs and building relationships with local universities and colleges to find new hires? Employees are also a great referral for other employees, so make sure to involve them in recruiting efforts. Invest throughout all levels of education, because we need more talent to enter and remain in our industry. Many students (and their parents for that matter) simply aren’t aware of the opportunities in our industry. Education and promotion are key!

Along with recruiting comes retention. Make sure you are keeping your employees happy and engaged. Invest in your employees through training, education, and involvement. Employees have great ideas about firm growth and strategy, so make sure to ask them. They will share this with you if they know you’re receptive to new ideas. Gathering employee feedback is equally important. Learning what makes your employees tick is instrumental in retention. A ping pong table in the breakroom is great, but it takes a lot more than that to ensure employee satisfaction.

Perhaps you’ve heard this famous quote about planting a tree: “The best time to plant a tree was 30 years ago, and the second best time to plant a tree is now.” Well, that’s no different than investing in your company! Now is better than never – start today. 

Lindsay Young, MBA, FSMPS, CPSM is a marketing services advisor with Zweig Group and president and founder of nu marketing. She can be reached at

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.