For consultancy firms, the use of framework agreements has become a fundamental aspect of their business strategy. However, the surveying industry has been experiencing a stagnation in fee rates in recent years, which poses a significant challenge to consultancy firms.
The question now arises: how can these firms increase their profits in an industry where fee rates can remain static?
Understanding Framework Agreements
Framework agreements are contractual mechanisms that establish the terms of contracts to be awarded over a certain period, particularly concerning quality, price, and quantity. These agreements provide a flexible and efficient means of procuring services, thereby reducing the administrative burden on the parties involved. In the context of the surveying industry, framework agreements help surveying consultancy firms secure work over a specified period, providing a consistent and predictable stream of income, all good news so far.
Fee Stagnation in Surveying
Despite the benefits of framework agreements, the industry has experienced fee stagnation. This has been attributed to several factors, including a highly competitive market & economic pressures. This can lead to a "race to the bottom" scenario, where consultancy firms compete on the lowest price to secure contracts, contributing to fee stagnation.
Increasing Profitability in the Stagnant Fee Environment
Regardless of the fee stagnation, surveying consultancy firms can employ several strategies to increase profitability.
Differentiation: Consultancy firms can differentiate their services by specialising in niche areas of surveying where there is less competition. By providing unique, high-quality services, firms can justify higher fees. Such as specialised services, customer service excellence, sustainability focus & technology integration.
Leveraging Technology: By integrating advanced technologies such as drones, scanners, and other software, firms can offer more efficient, accurate, and comprehensive services. A critical advantage of using software tools and drones in surveying is the automation of labour-intensive tasks.
For example, surveying software can automate data processing and report generation, increased speed and accuracy of data collection and processing can reduce the number of required man-hours per project, leading to significant labour cost savings. These savings can either be passed on to the client, making the firm more competitive or contribute to improved profit margins.
Building Strong Relationships: Building strong, long-term relationships with clients can result in more consistent work and the possibility of negotiation for better fees. Transparency, consistent delivery, and excellent customer service can significantly contribute to the development of such relationships. Data behind delivery further increases this significantly.
Diversified Services: Framework agreements allow consultancies to diversify their service offerings within the contract's parameters. By providing a range of related services, firms can meet a broader array of the client's needs, increasing their value proposition and enhancing customer retention.
Efficiency and Cost Reduction: Firms should continually evaluate their operations to identify areas where they can increase efficiency and reduce costs. This can involve adopting new technologies, streamlining processes, or restructuring the organisation. To enhance their operational efficiency and business performance, surveying firms should undertake capability mapping. This enables a firm to identify and analyse its strengths and areas for improvement by examining the proficiency of its staff, the effectiveness of the technology in use, and the efficiency of its operational processes.
Framework agreements remain a valuable tool in the surveying industry. By differentiating their services, leveraging technology, building strong relationships, expanding their services, and improving efficiency, surveying consultancy firms can increase their profitability within the constraints of these agreements. The key lies in providing superior value to their clients, staying lean and continually innovating to stay ahead in this competitive industry.