VP of Business and Operations
“One connected team, working in partnership, to make the built environment possible,” are just words unless a team coalesces behind the QK vision and understands why this is so important. In early 2017, we asked ourselves what specifically we would do in 2017 to make this vision a reality. As part of the commitment to educate all QK staff towards this goal, we selected the Find the Lost Dollars program to help us develop the common language that would infiltrate our culture.
With over 100 employees and multiple offices, we knew it would be daunting to roll out at once. We listened to FTLD staff and participants before us and decided to break the program implementation into three groups, so that each group could build off the success of the prior group and essentially become ambassadors themselves. The first group that went through the program were our project managers. They began the program in March 2017 and wrapped up in October 2017 with an all-day session to evaluate where we could make the most difference in our project management practices. The program allowed us to make quantifiable improvements essentially doubling our profit from 2016 to 2017.
We believe there were several factors that contributed to this significant increase in profits but the biggest was our reduction in Work in Progress (WIP) write offs. We have also seen significant culture change particularly with the project managers group in many areas including looking at project management as a value to the client, improving the way our budgets are prepared and adding contingencies, defining a clear scope that addresses scope creep, increasing communication with the client, and realizing not all clients are good clients – we fired one late last year.
While the actions are impressive best practices in themselves, the breakthrough results of an actual culture evolution only occurred when the thinking that drove the actions changed. The members of the group challenged themselves to look beyond the textbook, think like an owner, and start acting in a way that shows they value the discipline of project management versus the technical work only. This allowed us to begin to realize our potential and open new horizons for QK.
Hillmann Consulting, LLC is a successful Environmental and Engineering consulting firm. After all, they have been in business since 1985 and have been recognized by Zweig Group as one of the fastest-growing firms in the industry for the past 3 years.
Your Property. Our Priority is their mission.
Their commitment to service is clear and has proven to be one of the major cornerstones of their success. They build long lasting relationships with their clients, offering them the peace of mind they need when environmental concerns arise or the unthinkable occurs. This dedication to their clients was part of their culture, yet certain business practices regarding keeping clients happy as well as some inefficient business practices came at a high price. They were not as profitable as they desired – like many other firms in the A&E industry, they were growing but not seeing the same growth to the bottom line.
In 2014, their management team recognized that if they made some internal business/project management changes, they could provide even more value to their clients and increase their profitability at the same time. READ MORE >
For over 33 years, christopher consultants (christopher) headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia has provided civil engineering, surveying, land planning, urban design and landscape architecture in the mid-Atlantic region. Founded by Christopher Brown (Chris) in 1982, the firm currently employs over 100 professionals and has five divisions serving a range of different industries.
In 2011, Bill Zink took over as President and leader of the firm, and has been working hard to develop strategies to take the firm forward. He realized that though the firm had a long history of success, the firm’s culture needed some adjustments in order to deal with 21st century economic pressures.
As many firms in the A&E industry are now experiencing, going through a founder leadership transition is a slow and delicate process. It is important to protect the elements of success READ MORE >
While I have always been concerned for the client, the company, project performance and profits, as an engineer my focus has always been on the technical aspect of the work. This focus on quality and technical excellence will never change. What has changed, however, is my behavior and focus on how the technical discipline and the project management disciplines are inextricably tied. By changing the way I look at and value project management, I am helping my company serve our clients better AND Find Lost Dollars!
I am helping my clients and our company in a number of ways including setting specific scopes, forecasting what our process to alter the course will be “when” something changes, preparing a painless mechanism to handle adjustments to projects, and reviewing scopes, schedules, and fees with the client up front and at each stage of the project. I used to be uncomfortable asking for amendments or funding increases. This course helped me realize that this reality is a regular part of meeting project objectives for the client. Because I have taken the time to be clear throughout the process, these conversations are just that- continuing conversations of the project without concern or that dreaded feeling that I am asking for money.
This realization that the project management is not an add-on or instead of my technical expertise has allowed me to value the time I am spending answering difficult questions for my clients, or otherwise dealing with the administrative duties that are necessary to meet the project objectives. I am treating this management and my discussion with the clients as a service and have realized that it is billable- because it is a value-added service and one that the client needs and appreciates. Again, because I am in the habit of quantifying scopes, I have taken the same approach with my results. After taking this course, I am also much more diligent about completing my timesheet throughout the day. As a Project Manager, I often work on 8 to 10 projects in a day. It is easy to forget small amounts of time spent on projects here and there. By completing my timesheet as I go through the day, I am able to capture all billable work.
I have averaged my individual potential changes to be $1,440 per month. That is potentially $74,880 in a year! This is real money that is earned from a valued service that makes my clients’ projects better. It is a true Win/Win. I cannot wait to help others achieve similar results.
We selected the Find the Lost Dollars Business Management Assessment and online training in 2017 with a plan to put our firm leadership, project managers and key administrative staff through the program in several groups. I participated in our first group and overall found the program to be extremely beneficial from the beginning. The Assessment enabled us to see our staff’s perceptions of our strengths and weaknesses, and allowed them to provide anonymous detailed suggestions for areas of improvement. We were able to analyze the data by groups which gave us further insight as to where different roles or teams might need further support or training.
Our goals for the training program were to give our firm and project leaders a stronger foundation of financial knowledge, improve our bottom line profit margin, and make improvements in efficiencies to give us a greater competitive advantage. We found the courses to be well designed and extremely applicable to the challenges we face as a Geotechnical Engineering firm. Each course provides a wealth of information and best practices and combined with the group meetings enabled us to apply the principles to our own employees, clients and projects.
The first group to go through the course members of senior management. One of our main goals was to expose this group to the training in order to have buy-in from the top. We continued to meet every two weeks (and still are) to dissect the courses into manageable and achievable goals, establish processes, and develop tools that we knew would be necessary when subsequent groups were exposed to the training.
We have seen great progress in implementing some key initiatives such as improving our PM roles and job descriptions, developing benchmarking metrics, and creating new estimating processes and tools. We plan to offer the Find the Lost Dollars training to more teams at Earth Systems, and continue to meet on a regular basis to implement the many great ideas and suggestions for improvement that came directly from our discussions. I recommend this program to Engineering and Geotech firms who are looking for an effective and convenient way to both train their staff on business best practices as well as gain momentum to move forward with key business improvements.
FAE completed the Find The Lost Dollars Business Management program and found it to be an effective program to enhance our business and client relationship skills.
The format of the program encouraged interactive conversations and collaboration that played a part in significantly enhancing staff engagement, client sensitivities and service levels.
The program’s focus and guidance immediately resulted in a more stable profitability level and extended client reach and sectors for new opportunities.
We would highly encourage professional services firms to participate in this program.
The Find the Lost Dollars™ business management training program was exactly the type of program we needed to get our entire management team focused on profitability. It enabled us to train a core group of employees, all with different levels of experience, in a convenient and flexible format without loss of billable revenue and time out of the office. The Find the Lost Dollars™ Training Program has helped reinforce a culture of sound business practices among our management staff. We had some great discussions about our business during the group meetings and we all learned a lot.
I believe the program will have a positive long-term impact on our firm’s profitability. We have implemented many business improvements as a result of the course including development of a Go / No-Go process that has already helped us make crucial decisions on several projects. We have changed the way we prepare and discuss proposals with clients, as well as enhanced our proposal language to ensure project success. Our project managers (PMs) are more diligent about approving time charges on their projects, and are more focused on controlling scope creep. Our profits so far this year are up from last year and the program has contributed.
The Find the Lost Dollars™ program was a great investment for Sain, and has the right tools and approach to help progressive A&E firms to reach higher levels of financial success.
RETTEW found the Find the Lost Dollars™ training very pertinent and useful to our project managers’ responsibilities. By providing the training to a larger group, it gives us the opportunity to ensure that our PM’s are hearing the same message and understand what’s important to our firm. The educational components of the modules were very well received by our employees and we took the opportunity with our weekly meetings to supplement the material with company specific processes and procedures. Find the Lost Dollars™ did a great job of reinforcing our policies and demonstrated how small improvements can have a big impact on the bottom line. In addition we received feedback from our participants that the training was valuable because it provides tools that they can use to become better Project Managers.
I first met June Jewell through a Society of Design Administrators (SDA) meeting several years ago and, when I read Find the Lost Dollars™, it felt like she was writing about our company! We implemented the “Find the Lost Dollars™ Business Management Assessment” and immediately identified with the nine areas of our business where our staff was struggling and where more training was needed. Simply having our team take the assessment increased awareness of certain issues and raised questions.
The Find the Lost Dollars™ online training program was a perfect solution for quickly training a group of managers. Specifically focused on running a successful A&E firm, it provided our team with the foundation of a solid business education as well as guidance on best practices for sales, project management and optimizing resources. Our Project Managers now understand how/where money is made and lost on our jobs, they ask more questions about contracts and monitor their budgets and projects more closely. Our “Go/No Go” process has improved and our PM’s are more aware of how we spend our marketing dollars.
We have a group of younger technical staff just starting the program and expect that the skills they acquire will jumpstart their overall project management abilities. Find the Lost Dollars has been a fantastic program to improve both our operations and staff performance. We continue to see improvement in our efficiency and our team is focused on how to Find the Lost Dollars™!
We put our entire management team through the Find the Lost Dollars business management training program and have seen almost instantaneous improvement in our bottom line. The team was excited about the program. The most exciting part of the training is to hear them talk about ways to find the lost dollars, or how they have seen a 1, 2 or 3% change in their results. We look forward to ongoing discussions with our team on ways to continuously improve.
In early 2017 we implemented the Find the Lost Dollars™ Business Management Assessment to a core group of our management team and had our Kleinschmidt University Leadership Academy (KULA) group go through the Find the Lost Dollars Business Management training program. The Assessment was a valuable tool to understand areas we needed to focus on as well as get feedback from our team regarding our strengths in nine areas of our business. The training program was well designed and covered all areas of our business that we wanted our team to learn about. Overall it was a phenomenal experience and we will continue to utilize this program for our up and coming as well as our experienced project managers (PMs). I give the Find the Lost Dollars program an A and highly recommend it to any A&E firm looking to provide business skills and teach best practices to their PMs and emerging leaders.
In early 2017 we put a group of our project managers and firm leaders through the Find the Lost Dollars training program. Our goal was to improve our project financial performance and give our team business skills and guidance to deliver profitable projects. Overall the program was a tremendous success and I am confident that we will see real results as we continue to reinforce the concepts in the courses. In particular, the Scope Creep course and discussions with our group about how to minimize it was very valuable. I participated and facilitated our team discussions, and provided overall guidance, coaching and “hands-on” application of the best practices and concepts. We are continuing to make business management improvements as a result of our staff’s recommendations from our group meetings, and have seen immediate returns by implementing new processes in several areas including timesheets, cash flow, systems, and client relationships. Our team was exposed to more business training in 10 hours with the Find the Lost Dollars online courses than they otherwise would have had in years. We have found the entire program to be extremely beneficial and are getting ready to put more of our technical staff through it.
Ulteig engaged with AEC Business Solutions in the Spring of 2017 to provide their Find the Lost Dollars™ Business Management Assessment to survey a cross-section of our employees. Our goal for the assessment was to give our staff the opportunity to provide feedback about our business management practices, and provide our management team with recommendations for improving processes and systems.
The assessment provided a comprehensive report analyzing nine areas of our business, which was extremely valuable for identifying where to focus to increase the efficiency and productivity of our teams. The ability to see scores and anonymous comments by group allowed us to evaluate the data at a detailed level, and understand their challenges and differences more clearly.
I highly recommend the Find the Lost Dollars™ Business Management Assessment as a tool for understanding strengths and weaknesses, gaining anonymous feedback from staff and developing a path forward for business management improvement and success.
The Find the Lost Dollars Business Management Training Program has had a profound impact on our financial results and the performance of our staff. We had the majority of our staff participate in the program to get them focused on our financial success.
We saw an increase in profit from 2015 to 2016 of over 16% resulting in additional profit of $162,000.
It has also had a significant impact on our internal communication and client satisfaction. We highly recommend this program to any A&E firm looking to increase project profitability and improve employee performance.
We had the opportunity to work with AEC Business Solutions and June directly during a 10 week training program they offer to assist A/E firms who are looking for ways to enlighten management staff on the “business” aspects of a firm. The program has been extremely helpful and more importantly provided an actual path for us to follow moving forward. June’s role during the training for our firm, was as facilitator of our weekly follow up discussion sessions and she provided exceptional insight and best management practices that we found to be very valuable. If your firm’s managers struggle with understanding the “business” side of your engineering firm, I would highly recommend June Jewell and her firm’s program.
All of the team members of the Environmental Health & Safety Division of Hillmann Consulting went through the Find the Lost Dollars AEC Business Management Training Program in late 2015. Our profit for this department was only at 2% and we needed a way to get all of our staff on the same page to increase our profit margin without increasing our rates.
After the training, we immediately implemented many new practices that changed our culture and transformed our profitability. We improved billable utilization rates, improved time management procedures and ensured everyone on the team adhered to policies that improved profitability. Our January to September year-to-date profit is now at a stunning 20.87%!
Having our team go through the Find the Lost Dollars Training Program has made an incredible difference for us, with an increase of profit of over $200,000 in less than a year!
Our management team expressed a desire for formal training and the Find the Lost Dollars™ program was a great solution for us! It worked well for our team to be able to take each course on their own time and then come together to discuss each course and take away recommendations for what we could do to improve. The course opened up a dialogue between various levels of management and helped to make sure everyone is on the same page. The discussions after each course were the greatest benefit to our team, they provided an opportunity to learn from each other as well as the course. We have put together action items based on these discussions and goals formulated during the course. With significant growth and internal management changes at our firm, this course has helped bring everyone together as they settled into their new roles.
In early 2016 our firm identified key strategic initiatives that included creating efficiencies in our accounting/project management system and the need to reduce scope creep in our projects. We were thrilled to find the Find the Lost Dollars™ Training as it met our goal of finding a business training program we could offer to our entire staff in a convenient and effective format, and have been extremely pleased with the results.
We made the decision to put our entire firm through the Find the Lost Dollars™ Training in order to implement a company-wide culture of profitability. The training has helped us to instill in everyone a focus on finding lost dollars in their daily work! We also see better compliance with policies because our staff now understand why policies are necessary. Our employees refer back to the concepts learned in the training at regular monthly meetings. Everyone has a better understanding of how the firm makes money.
I highly recommend the Find the Lost Dollars™ program for any firm that wants to improve their firm’s profitability by introducing their people to practices and behaviors that immediately add to the company’s bottom line.
All managers at Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc. took the Find the Lost Dollars™ class together the first quarter of 2016. We found it incredibly useful for several reasons. First – it reaffirmed the value of two ongoing initiatives and reduced push back – implementing a CRM system that is integrated into our accounting and contact system; and implementing a printing/copying billing system tied to our accounting software. Second – it brought a better understanding of how we make money down to lower management levels. Third – it improved awareness of the business side of our consulting practice. It clearly has helped our organization improve its profitability. We’ve had record sales, revenue and profits for our employee-owned firm in 2016.
Our firm recognized the need for training in order to get all of our Project Managers at the same level with financial management skills. We chose the Find the Lost Dollars program to remind some of our team of best practices, and for others to introduce them to topics previously unfamiliar to them. We did not go into the training with the goal to save money or increase profitability, but knew in the end by educating Project Managers on process that would happen. We wanted to make it clear to our Project Managers that quality can be maintained, and the firm will still make money by looking for process improvements. The training has been a success! At roundtable discussions throughout the courses, the Project Managers have suggested changes in our systems that gets key financial information to them timely and allows them to better manage the financial aspect of the projects.
As the new CFO for BFW Engineering, one of my top priorities was to find an effective Project and Business Management training program for our mid and upper level managers. We were looking for a convenient and cost-effective program to train our busy managers on best practices for running a profitable and successful engineering firm. Our goals for the program were to improve our processes and systems, while giving our team a solid understanding of financial management concepts, with a long-term goal of improving profitability.
After looking at several different programs offered in the A&E industry, we selected the AEC Business Solutions Find the Lost Dollars™ program. We felt this program was best suited to our firm because it combines industry best practices with group discussions that enabled us to customize the format to our own schedules and company objectives.
The Find the Lost Dollars™ program was a perfect choice for us providing high quality industry-specific online courses in an engaging and interactive format. We have put two groups of managers through the course, including firm leaders, and are seeing long term changes in their daily project management practices and awareness of crucial financial management issues. We have also implemented some new processes as a result of the training, including improved project management reporting, tightened proposal and contract language, more detailed estimating templates, and streamlined billing and AR collections.
The Find the Lost Dollars™ Business Management Training Program has given BFW a competitive advantage by helping us better control scope creep while improving our client service and execution. I highly recommend the program to any A&E firm looking to improve both their firm’s operational and business practices, as well as the state of mind and performance of their professional staff.
I personally went through the Find the Lost Dollars™ courses and found them to be right on target with the essential business skills that we want our PMs to learn. Based on my experience with the courses, and the feedback of the PMs on our team that have taken the training, I highly recommend the entire online course to any firm wanting to improve the mindset and behavior of your project management group. This is one of the few investments in professional development that we have made that will definitely provide a clear return on investment by immediately changing how our PMs understand project and firm profitability, and giving them clear direction as to how to improve their project performance.
My participation in the Find the Lost Dollars training has really made me a more conceptual thinker as I have been exposed to other areas of our business that I haven’t been before. I have particularly increased my financial knowledge which is helpful in directing sales plans for our business development team.
I believe I am a better PM because of having taken the Find the Lost Dollars™ course. I have made efforts to change policies on project setup and staff engagement to more of these specifics.
I have become more focused on the amount of detail in proposals and costs associated with the various tasks. The Find the Lost Dollars course has given me a big picture view of all the components necessary to complete projects on budget to be profitable.
The Find the Lost Dollars™ training courses have helped fill gaps in my understanding of Project Management, including financial aspects. The overall goals of these courses is to bring all PMs and management, regardless of their individual knowledge, closer to realizing the same information and skills. In short, a new hire and a 10 year employee should have a close range of knowledge after these courses.