· gospel according to dan · 5 min read

Surveyors should deal aggressively with problems

The importance of proactive problem-solving and clear communication in the land surveying business.
💡The following is an excerpt from Dan Beardslee’s “The Management Handbook for Land Surveyors”.

Rule 8: Bad situations don’t get better by themselves, and they won’t go away.

In business, things don’t always go smoothly. For whatever reason there are times when fate just conspires to create problems. In a land surveying business there are innumerable opportunities for problems, and they will all happen eventually. For the firm that wants to set itself apart from all the rest, one way is to recognize a problem and not ignore it. It is much easier to ignore problem situations and hope they will go away, but hoping problems will disappear is simply wishful thinking.

Let’s say, for instance, that you are doing an ALTA survey on a tight deadline. What could go wrong? The utility markups might be late. The party chief you have assigned to the job comes down with pneumonia. The title report has errors. Your equipment fails. The computer crashes.

The opportunities for problems are endless, and they aren’t always your fault, but the clients aren’t interested in fault, they are interested in results, and with a real estate closing at hand, they need your work completed.

There are two general ways to handle this sort of situation. You can complain that circumstances have not permitted you to meet the deadline, and simply wait for the deadline to come and not produce the results, or you can aggressively pursue solutions to the problems and find answers and get the job done on time.

The latter approach is much better, of course, but harder to achieve. It may be that even if you give it your best effort, you can’t produce the desired result, but that should not stop you from trying. Even if you can’t get the problems solved, give your best effort and communicate that to your client. If you do your best, your client is likely to understand. You do have to communicate that effort, however. If you don’t, they’ll just assume you’re not trying hard enough. If you try, your client will understand, but if you don’t, and write it off to bad luck, that client will probably not be back.

Deal aggressively with problems.

Acknowledging the Inevitability of Challenges

Issues are an unavoidable aspect of any business, and this is especially true in land surveying. Environmental, technological and legal issues can come out of left field to halt operations and threaten deadlines. What sets successful firms apart, however, is not the absence of problems but rather the proactive approach they take when addressing them.

Rising Up to the Challenge

Separating your firm from the competition involves more than just providing quality deliverables. It requires an awareness of potential issues and a commitment to addressing them directly. Ignoring problems may be a tempting strategy, but as Beardslee suggests, it’s naive to hope they will vanish. Clients focused on results need assurance that their projects will be completed within the agreed-upon timeframe.

Beardslee outlines two general ways to handle challenges: waiting for circumstances to improve or aggressively pursuing solutions. While the former may seem easier, it will most likely leave your clients dissatisfied. The proactive approach, though more strenuous, is certainly the better choice and will lead to a happier clientele.

Communication is Crucial

Even when you face the problem head-on and put forward your best efforts, sometimes it’s still not enough. 😬

Early in my career, one of my managers gave me the best piece of advice I’ve ever received:

Communicate effectively with your clients

While this may sound obvious, it’s surprisingly not a very common practice. When people complain about poor service, this is what they mean. Have you ever noticed how much more frustrating it is when something goes wrong with a subcontractor or vendor and they don’t reach out to keep you updated? It feels like they just don’t care.

At the end of the day, most people are reasonable, and simply picking up the phone and calling your client can go a long way to smooth out a problem that otherwise would have caused frustrations and resentment. Sometimes I think people ignore problems to avoid confrontation, but really it just creates a much bigger problem to deal with later.

Treat your clients the way you would want to be treated, and make life easier for everyone.

How Cyanic Job Book Helps You Find and Deal With Your Problems

Sometimes you might not even be aware you have a problem that needs fixing. This is especially common when it comes to budgets and estimates, or things that happen in the field that your crews don’t tell you about. You might even receive a phone call from one of your clients and realize you have no idea how the job is proceeding.

Diagnosing and understanding project issues are two crucial first steps toward discovering realistic solutions. Using technology such as Cyanic Job Book provides your firm with the ability to track projects in real-time, stops problems from going unnoticed, and lets you know to have that conversation with your client now, not at the end of the month after you’ve added up all your hours and it’s too late to do anything about it.

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