Smart investments

May 04, 2020

Recommendations for how your firm can adjust budgets and make smart investments of your money, your time, and your energy.

Sixty-eight percent of AEC firms have changed or are considering changes to their 2020 budget to cope with the effects of COVID-19, according to Zweig Group’s AEC Industry Outlook & Response to COVID-19 Report. In times like this, relying on your trusted advisors is more important than ever. Now is the time to seek help in determining how to deploy resources and adjust your strategy to help your company make smart decisions while preserving your culture.

Here are a few recommendations on how your firm can adjust budgets and make smart investments of your money, your time, and your energy:

  1. Invest in collaboration. Virtual meetings, presentations, the ability to share documents, and mobile workstations are essential to work effectively as a quarantined workplace.
  2. Survival is the first priority. Scrutinize expenses and be honest about what costs are necessary and what can be cut. You won’t achieve your long-term potential without first surviving. Keep the lights on.
  3. Communication, communication, communication. Whatever you do as leaders, you are now going to have to communicate differently – and more frequently – than you likely ever have before. Stay aligned with your partners and leaders with regularly scheduled calls. A daily firm-wide email or video message from the CEO may well be in order.
  4. Engage with your clients. Stay on top of developments in the market sectors you serve and monitor the status of your clients. Your clients are facing the same new and confounding circumstances you are – ask them how you can better support their projects and pursuits.
  5. Talk with your competitors and peer firms. Establish a local group with leaders of other companies in this business to share information and ideas on how to respond to the current situation.
  6. Model working capital needs and secure contingency financing. Assure you have a large line of credit in order to keep operations running. Utilize the emergency loan program from the SBA for small businesses affected by the virus.
  7. Stay inspired. Things aren’t all bad. Celebrate the victories, highlight the efforts and successes, and roll with the changes. Decide to be a source of inspiration for your people and your clients, and you’ll find yourself better positioned as a leader and a company when we come out on the other side of this.

Zweig Group has been the AEC industry’s resource for thought leadership, outside perspectives, and expertise for more than 30 years, and we would love to talk with you. We’re here to help.

Phil Keil is director of strategy services at Zweig Group. Travis White is a strategy services advisor at Zweig Group. Contact them at and

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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.