Find the Lost Dollars Blog

5 Steps to Get Your Leadership Team on the Same Page

Is your executive team on the same page about where your firm is heading? One of the most critical factors to successful A&E business results is being able to make the right decisions that will drive the firm’s growth and profitability. When there is a lack of...

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5 Keys to Higher Profits and Happier Employees

You want higher profits and happier employees but getting both may seem impossible. The relationship between firm financial success and employee happiness is not always obvious, but higher profits enable investment in staff and systems that in turn, makes them enjoy...

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7 Secret Causes of Scope Creep

Scope creep – that vicious blood-sucker that steals your project profits. When the scope of the work done exceeds what is promised in your contract, and you don’t get more money, you pay for it. It comes straight from your profit margins and can leave a project at a...

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How to be a Top Tier A&E Firm

The majority of A&E firms will concur that 2017 and 2018 have been stellar years for the industry.  Opportunities have been abundant, and economists are telling us that it is likely that the momentum will continue into next year.  With this high volume...

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10 Strategies to Boost Employee Retention

The number one challenge stated by our clients right now is hiring and retaining employees. Because finding experienced employees is so difficult in the A&E industry, many firms are getting creative with their compensation plans, benefits, profit-sharing and other...

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10 Dirty Secrets of the Best A&E Firms

The Architecture, Engineering and Environmental industry is as hot as it has ever been in my 30-year tenure, yet even when work is booming, I still find even the best A&E firms struggle to meet targets in any given month, quarter or year. So many factors impact...

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The Blessing and the Curse of Being So Busy

 The Architecture and Engineering industry is busier right now than it has been in a long time. This is great for your firm – right? I talk with at least 5 to 10 A&E firm CEOs a week, and their results are surprisingly mixed. While it is obviously a booming market...

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Why Some A&E Firms Make More Money Than Others

Many A&E firms come to me because their profits are too low, not hitting expected targets, and barely enabling the firm to grow. In most cases, their projects are making a profit – just not at the levels expected or needed. The leaders of these firms are...

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10 Keys to Increasing Utilization

      The employee utilization rate is one of a handful of key performance indicators (KPIs) used by A&E firms to measure the ability of the firm to keep employees working on billable projects.Your employees are your firm's primary asset and...

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Tolerating Mediocrity – What is the Cost?

When we close our eyes and dream of the ideal business and team of employees, we imagine a world where there are no conflicts, everyone is a top performer, and we never have to give negative feedback. Not all employees are created equal But the reality is that not all...

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Turning Around an Underperforming Team

Are you frustrated because not every team in your firm is hitting their goals or performing at their highest level? Unfortunately you may have groups that struggle to be profitable, have high turnover, or don’t embrace your firm’s culture. It can be difficult to hold...

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10 Ways to Knock it Out of the Park in 2018

  “If you're going to play at all, you're out to win. Baseball, board games, playing Jeopardy, I hate to lose.” - Derek Jeter 2017 had many ups and downs but overall was a good business year for the A&E industry. From the indicators I am seeing, the number of...

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10 Estimating Mistakes that Kill Project Profits

You planned for your project to make 14% but you end up with 8%. So do you know what caused this loss of potential revenue that your firm was counting on? Was it: A. Deficient project management? B. Scope creep? C. Lack of systems and processes? D. Poor scope...

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Why Accountability is NOT a Dirty Word

  I was meeting with an engineering client recently that was explaining his firm’s culture. He said, “Accountability is a dirty word around here. We don’t measure anyone or have any consequences because we don’t like to punish people.” That statement stopped me...

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Building an AEC Firm: It’s a Business, Not a Hobby

After 30 years as a Principal in the firm KCCT Architects in Washington, DC, Tom Twohey recently retired at the age of 79. Tom was one of the founding partners in the firm, and my client for the last 22 years. Unlike most architects, Tom had a business mind, and...

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How to Strategically Grow and Retain Your Best Clients

Trying to get work in the door can be a challenging process for A&E firms, and many may be missing the easiest opportunity of all. Getting more work from existing clients! You may assume that your clients are giving you all the work they have, but what if they...

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Are Your Clients Taking Advantage of You?

In today’s post we're sharing a podcast of an interview of June Jewell by STEVE GORDON on The Unstoppable CEO. >> Click HERE to listen If you have a professional service firm… you can’t miss this one. Have you ever done a project and ended up making less than...

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Improving the Business Side of Engineering

Today’s post is by our guest author Becky White, Vice President/Organization Development of Sain Associates, Inc. Becky has more than 26 years of project experience in transportation planning for public and private sector clients. In her Organization Development role,...

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6 Steps to Find the Lost Dollars in Your A&E Firm

In my book Find the Lost Dollars: 6 Steps to Increase Profits in Architecture, Engineering, and Environmental Firms, I conclude with a final chapter that outlines the six steps that can guide you towards increasing your firm’s profitability. This article will...

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Top Ten Reasons Change Initiatives Fail

Over and over again I have seen major change initiatives fail. In fact, studies show that over 70% of most internal initiatives fail to meet stakeholder expectations. Whether it is implementing a new system, a merger or acquisition, business process improvement,...

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5 Ways to Increase Accountability in Your A&E Firm

If there is one issue that I have heard repeatedly in working with A&E firms over the last 27 years, it is the difficulty of getting employees to fully accept responsibility – to be held accountable for their actions and performance. This issue goes so deep, that...

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5 Crucial Steps for Project Manager Success

The success of your Project Managers (PMs) can make or break your firm. Right? Considering all of the tasks that the typical project manager is required to perform, it is no wonder that many PMs get frustrated or even lose money! I did an assessment of the typical...

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3 Estimating Lessons to Boost Project Profits

We have all had projects that for some reason did not meet our financial expectations. Overbudget projects happen for many reasons, including bidding on the wrong projects to begin with, underestimating the number of hours needed to successfully complete the project,...

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10 Ways to Prosper in the Uncertainty of 2017

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future. - John F. Kennedy   If there is one thing we all know about 2017 it’s that we have no idea what is going to happen. This will be a year of change and...

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Reinventing Your Culture to Enable Growth

    The drive for progress doesn't wait for the external world to say "It's time to change." - Jim Collins, Best-selling Author, Good to Great Recently I was talking with a prospective client about challenges they were facing with their project management....

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10 Tips to Survive the Next Recession

Another recession is coming. It is inevitable. Based on past history, it should be next year. But these things are hard to predict, so all I will commit to at this point is that another dip is coming. And we don’t know how bad it will be. What I do know for sure is...

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Time is Money: Improve Your Employee Time Management

Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.  ~Jim Rohn, American Speaker and Author In a professional services business, the expression “time is money” is truly accurate. Your employees’ time is the greatest asset your...

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How to Save your Project Managers Two Hours a Week

The main complaint I am hearing from A&E firm leaders these days is how they would love to “find more time” for their project managers (PMs). With workloads the highest they’ve been for many years, and talented and experienced PMs difficult to hire, asking PMs to...

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3 Reasons Why A&E Firm Owners Can’t Retire

    “The exit that many leaders had thought would take place in their mid to late 50’s is now getting delayed to 65 and older.”   As I enter my mid-fifties (never thought it would happen) I have become privy to many private conversations from my...

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How to Make 3% More on Your Next Project

  In my book, Find the Lost Dollars, I focus on the impact of just a 1% increase in profits in nine areas of your business. The reason for focusing on such a small increase is twofold – first – it sounds easy. Most employees will gladly step up to help the...

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Are You Blowing Through Yellow Lights?

As we drive along the roads each day we make split second decisions. These decisions can have zero or life changing consequences, or anything in between. A cautionary yellow light can occur when driving slow or fast, far from the intersection or right in it. Once in a...

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6 Steps to Win on Value Instead of Price

We've all been there, sitting in front of that client we know we don't want to work with. But the fear takes over. The fear of not having enough work. So we don't walk away. We succumb to the pressure and lower our fee. Or maybe it is our best client, and he is...

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Are You Eligible for Federal Research Tax Credits?

There exists a clear and present disadvantage within the 4 walls of your business. Your competitors are aware of the Research Tax Credit and earning an additional $50,000, on average, in tax credits that are available if you know how to get them. This is one of the...

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Holding Project Managers Accountable for Profitability

While most A&E firms expect their project managers (PMs) to deliver profitable projects, many have not put the appropriate measures in place to ensure that it happens. Accountability at the PM level is often vague and unstructured, which can lead to several...

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10 Ways to Make More Money in 2016

It is hard to believe 2016 is here. I always get excited about the beginning of a new year - I look at it as an opportunity to start over, correct the mistakes of the past and achieve some of the goals that eluded me in the previous year. For most of our clients, 2015...

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6 Keys to Building a Profitable Culture

Increased competition in the Architecture and Engineering (A&E) industry is driving down fees and making it feel like a buyer’s market. This is putting a squeeze on A&E firm profits, and forcing many firms to re-evaluate their strategy including how they go to...

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Making a Difference – One Client at a Time

We all work hard every day and hope that what we are doing is adding value to our clients. We usually don’t get much feedback about whether our work is making an impact, although occasionally something happens that puts a smile on your face and makes it all worth it....

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6 Ways to Differentiate Your A&E Firm

Are you feeling the pinch of reduced fees and increasing salaries these days? You are not alone. Pressure on profit margins is causing many architecture and engineering firms to revisit their strategy and look for ways to differentiate from their competition....

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Hot Topics at the 2015 Zweig Awards Conference

For the 7th straight year I attended the Zweig Industry Awards Conference held at the beautiful Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston. This event, previously held as three separate conferences, recognizes the Hottest Firms, the Best Firms to Work For, and Marketing Excellence...

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Leveraging the 80/20 Rule in Your Business

I recently had the privilege of spending two days strategizing with Google Adwords and 80/20 guru Perry Marshall near his home in Oak Park, IL. I was part of a 4-man intensive designed to focus Perry’s expertise in sales and marketing on how to take my business to the...

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{Guest Post} The Power of 1%

We have all heard the phrase, “work smarter, not harder” and yet I would venture to guess that few of us really understand how to do just that.  There is however, a very simple concept that demonstrates the critically important issue of how to constantly improve...

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How Accountable Learning Can Improve Financial Results

    In looking where to invest limited dollars these days, it is critical that every penny spent provides a return on investment (ROI) above what other investments could deliver. Every dollar spent on one part of the business takes away investment in...

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Why I Want My Firm to Be Like Tesla

    I started a new business last year which gave me a unique opportunity to figure out my new brand – how I wanted AEC Business Solutions to be viewed and perceived in the marketplace. It is very exciting starting a new business after 25 years doing the...

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{Guest Post} 6 Steps to Holding Employees Accountable

  Ineffective communication is the root of all evil. Recent research has shown that the average employee in a professional services firm wastes 40-minutes per day due to ineffective communication alone. In the average company with an average payroll this equates...

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3 Steps to Increase Your Fees Now

In a recent survey of our clients across the U.S., one of the most pressing concerns noted was how to raise fees. While the economy is improving, faster in some sectors and geographies than in others, fees for Architecture and Engineering firms are not increasing...

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Developing Superstar Project Managers

In looking at the operations of an Architecture or Engineering firm, it is evident that the project manager (PM) role is the key to success. In addition to their normal project management responsibilities, most PMs are also involved in many other aspects of firm...

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Too Busy to Work ON Your Business?

Too Busy to Work ON Your Business? 3 Steps to Ensure Important Change is Happening   Many of you have probably read or heard of Michael Gerber’s best-seller The E-Myth which introduced the concept of working ON your business not in your business. This how-to...

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Guest Post: Find the Lost Dollars™ Book Review

Today's post is by our guest author Scott D. Butcher, FSMPS, CPSM. Scott is Vice President of JDB Engineering, Inc. and President-elect of the SMPS Foundation. He has more than two decades of A/E/C marketing experience and is a Fellow of the Society for Marketing...

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7 Video Marketing Ideas for A/E Firms

Today's post is by our guest author Brian M. Fraley, Founder, Manager and Chief Strategist for Fraley AEC Solutions, LLC. Video is trending upward in marketing. Did you know that YouTube is the 2nd largest Internet search engine? The truth is that it was always...

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5 Steps to Reduce Scope Creep in Your AEC Firm

Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) firms lose money on projects due to many causes, and our research shows that scope creep and failure to bill for extra services is at the top of the list as the biggest cause by far. Scope Creep is the erosion of the...

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8 Ways to Make More Money in 2015

I can’t believe it is already 2015. The beginning of a new year is a great opportunity to gain a different perspective and a more effective business management strategy. While we are all in business to make money, it is amazing that we persist with business practices...

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Spring Cleaning for Your Business

Doesn’t it feel good to throw things away? I don’t know about you, but I hate clutter. It makes me feel stressed and disorganized. Every year I resolve to clean out my office, my garage, and all the drawers and closets in the house that get cluttered over the long...

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Why I Wrote Find the Lost Dollars

I was accidentally “thrown” into the architecture and engineering (A&E) industry in 1989 when I worked for a CPA firm in charge of growing their management information systems (MIS) practice. My job was to help our clients determine their requirements and find the...

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SMPS Build Business 2013 – Dream Big!

As in past years, the Society of Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) provided the perfect stage for marketers of all levels and from all over the US and Canada to learn, share and connect at their Build Business 2013 annual conference from July 31st to August 2nd...

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The 5 Top Risks to Project Profitability

These days projects are hard to get and project profit margins are declining. With more competition nationally and from overseas firms, it is critical to manage projects with precision, and utilizing best practices for financial management. With some focus on those...

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Do You Have a Strong Project Management Culture?

There were many trends discussed for engineering firms at the 2013 national American Consulting Engineers Council (ACEC) national conference last month in Washington, DC. I always pay close attention to these discussions in order to make sure I am on top of the latest...

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Find the Lost Dollars Book Successfully Launched

May 2, 2013 was a very exciting day for me as my new book, Find the Lost Dollars: 6 Steps to Increase Profits in Architecture, Engineering, and Environmental Firms was launched at a party at the Tower Club in Vienna, VA. I was able to celebrate the evening with my...

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Q&A with Author June R. Jewell, CPA

Why did you write this book? In working with hundreds of A&E firms over the last 23 years, I have seen patterns in the way that they approach their business management practices. I have developed many best practices that when applied, can save a firm tens of...

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Find the Lost Dollars Launch Team

We wanted to extend our gratitude to the phenomenal group of individuals who are helping to make Find the Lost Dollars: 6 Steps to Increase Profits in Architecture, Engineering and Environmental Firms an Amazon best selling book!   The following people graciously...

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5 Ways to Love Your Business Again

Do you remember when you first started your business? The excitement was overwhelming, and the adrenalin was flowing. The main thoughts that occupied your mind were around getting new business, and how to make ends meet. But as your business grew, you realized that...

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Change is the New Status Quo

Change in life and business is inevitable, and harder for some business owners than others. But the pace of change is faster now more than ever, and those who are weak and unwilling to adapt run the risk of being left in the dust. While this might sound like a cliché,...

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Ten Culture Traps that Steal Your Profits

The culture of your firm directly impacts your profitability. How you look at money, deal with your financial management, and manage your staff directly translates into policies, processes and behaviors that cause projects to go over budget. Without a healthy focus on...

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Is Your Professional Services Firm Surviving or Thriving?

Three Growth Strategies for Professional Services Firms Times have changed and making money in a professional services business is harder than it used to be. It requires a more defined strategy, a focus on better client relationships, highly motivated and skilled...

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Athlete, Artist, Author

In our world of singing competitions, high paid celebrities and athletes, and reality shows, many of us evaluate our own talent as if we are on the stage, and being judged. We label ourselves based on our perceptions of how capable we are, and compare ourselves to...

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Welcome to Find the Lost Dollars!

Hello and welcome!  As we get ready for the launch of my new book, Find the Lost Dollars: 6 Steps to Increase Profits in Architectural  Engineering and Environmental Firms, my hope is that here you can find valuable resources and information to help you build and grow...

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