Land Surveyor Community Forum

   I am a young surveyor with a mere 5 years experience. Having read several posts and forum entries, I On Running a Successful Surveying Companybelieve there is an untapped wealth of knowledge, wisdom, and things learned the hard way here on Land Surveyors United. I am very passionate about my work as a land surveyor, and one of my personal goals is to start and run my own land surveying company.

   These questions are directed at both business owners and non-business owners. What are the most important things to emphasize in your business? (e.g. Reputation?, Quality?, Price?) In all of your experience, what has been grossly neglected in too many surveying companies? As an employee/team-member, what would you like to see in a company that you work for? What additional advice would you pass on?

   Thanks in advance for your insight!

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  • Sam I use Concordance but this is not a geographic based system. There are a number of good ones out there that incorporate a geographic system and that would be better in the long run. I like Concordance because of the powerful search and information tag features. I have used it for more than 15 years now and simply do not want to change. As I have said though if I were you I would used a GIS type database if I was to start over. Justin may be able to give you some advice on that front. Give him a shout.

    • Will do, thanks.

  • I agree with several points raised by Mr. Roth. It is important to understand that your ability to increase your profit is directly related to your knowledge of the area you are working in. Knowing the quality of a particular land surveyor in the area or who at one time practiced in the area is extremely helpful on the profit side. As he mentioned tricks like using Google to help make bids also really helps out on the profit side.

    Having surveyed in the area where you are bidding on a new survey is also an incredible help in boosting profit. Once you have experience in the areas you are bidding on doing surveys you know what to expect as far as difficulty and can adjust the bid accordingly. 

    This involves building a data base (even a geographic based system) of some sort that is capable of keeping good track of the jobs you have performed. There are other completely unrelated reasons why this is a must but a good data base will make you a lot of money over the long haul. 

    • I use Google Earth to keep track of jobs I have performed, NGS benchmarks I have located, etc. It can really help out. Have you found a different or better way to keep track of this info?

  • Sam, Enjoyed your post..I agree too, there's lots of info here. 

    From this site you will learn latest techniques and equipment issues which are very helpful. 

    Also you'll learn what you should or should not do while trying to run a successful business.

    I recently encounter a slight problem with my Promark 3 and got a name of a member here on this site, Daniel Beltz who claimed he could make the repair, mailed off my unit for repair with a signed contract and haven't' heard from him in 4 months. He's a total jerk and a thief from Michigan. Also I've wasted valuable time with phone calls, text msgs. and emails which are all unanswered of course.

    My best advice is double check references for anything you proposed to do or you will loose out in a big way. I Lost about a $1,500 unit. Lesson learned I guess. 

    Anyway, Good Luck on your adventures....Surveying is a great profession, I hope everyone can agree this is a awesome land surveying site! Still you need to be careful.


    George Vedder, LS

    • Party Chief

      thanks for the vote George.  I am honestly doing everything in my power to track Mr. Beltz down...i have a feeling something horrible has happened to him.  I have reached out to his family as well hoping to get a resolve...

    • We have learned the hard way to request a retainer on larger projects. There are so many fly-by-night companies that have no intention of paying. Great advice.

  • It really depends on what your goals are in business and the market you are in. Professional matters are another issue entirely.

    I started my business with the idea that I would use the technological edge I had to gain a portion of the market share. My plan was to use the greater efficiency and quality that advances in technology had provided to our profession to hollow out a niche in the existing market. I could provide a superior product and service at a lower price than my competitors.

    This worked very very well in the beginning. However my success eventually caused others in the market to follow suit. So over a period of time I impacted the market by causing it to change which blunted the rewards of employing this type of business philosophy.

    Long term success in any profession has to be rooted in quality and maintaining a reputation of reliability and stability in your service and product. The human touches are also important in order to make your clients feel like your business actually cares about them. This involves getting feed back from your clients and being proactive in finding out what your clients need from you in order to get them a product and service they can use.

    As a professional reputation and quality are something you have to keep on the front burner all the time. Ultimately this will be the reason a professional business survives long term.

    You will find that quality and competence in your product and service are not compatible with business considerations. This is why a balance must be struck between the two. Ultimately you can't allow business considerations to get in the way of professional matters. This may seem counter intuitive but the reality is you can't have a successful professional business unless you are successful as a professional. This means going the extra mile to put out a product and service that you can comfortably defend in the future regardless of any profit considerations.

    I hope this helps and I wish you luck.


    • It sounds like developing and maintaining a personal business relationship with your clients is a big key. Any tips or ideas on building that trust with current and/or potential clients?

      • I agree with Deward.  The Client relationship is a HUGE part of maintaining a successful business.  I am very upfront & honest with my clients.  I don't try to hide things from them & I frequently keep them informed on the status of the project.  During the consultation, I make sure that I don't treat them like they are stupid and don't try to tell them what they need to do.  I give them the information they need to know & explain why the fees are what they are & go from there.  One thing that I have learned over my career, working with several other engineering & surveying firms, is that clients absolutely hate when you give them an estimate for a project, then complete the work, then send them a final invoice that is way over the estimate.  So, in agreement with Deward, you should be willing to sacrifice profits to produce a great service and product.  Making sure you have enough information to accurately estimate a project will help to avoid this problem.  If you encounter unforeseen problems & know you are not going to make budget, contact your client ASAP.  Surprising them with a final invoice that is way over the estimate, will no doubt send a bad message and word will travel very fast through the community.  I spend a fair amount of money on marketing every year, but most of my current clients are returning customers or are referrals from past customers.  I hope this helps you out & good luck on your business.


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