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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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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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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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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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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{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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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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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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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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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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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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