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Growth & Profit Strategies

The Halo Effect: What is it and can I use it to power sales?

By Doug Foster | March 21, 2017

What Is It We Do That Has the Largest Impact on Business? Your employer’s reputation is based on what?  Its website?  A 2017 survey revealed that only 12.2% of AEC firms feel that its website has the most impact on business. As far as I am concerned, a website has very little impact on a…

Why you’re not meeting your clients’ needs

By Doug Foster | January 12, 2017

I am excited to offer you a free downloadable tool to keep your services positioned for high-demand and high-profit. See below for the link. Read to find out why this is so critical to your career and financial health. You created your business model back when your company was formed or when you took over as CEO. You…

Use these steps to avoid CRM implementation failure

By Doug Foster | December 2, 2016

A strong Client Relationship Management program (CRM) can be a major asset for your organization’s revenue generation engine. But… effective CRM implementation is OFTEN TRICKY and more often than not, it fails. Time and money is lost and frustration and blame leads to misery. There is a right and wrong way to implement CRM. Very…

Doug Reed Performing Like a Superstar

SuperStar Project Managers Are the Envy: Set Yourself Up On Day One

By Doug Foster | September 6, 2016

What if I told you that you could become a superstar project manager and it wouldn’t be that difficult. I’ll show you how to set yourself up to be the envy of your peers and you don’t need to be Michael Phelps. Learn ways to reduce on-the-job stress, enhance your reputation, become a top profit…

Three questions for successful client relationships

By Doug Foster | August 31, 2016

Want to build strong relationships with your clients from the beginning? One that ensures all their goals and issues are addressed effectively to set you both up for success? Then, client relationship management must be a top priority. This does not mean you “roll over” when pushed by a client.  Of course, these are two…

Meet market demand by accident and you are sure to fail

By Doug Foster | December 22, 2015

We’re all busy trying to bring in new business, service clients at the highest level possible and bill at high rates. Because this requires so much focus, strategic planning can take a back seat. If you tread water, living off what you learned earlier in your career,  there are sharks who will eat you whole…

Your Firm is Your Wings or Your Drag

By Doug Foster | December 16, 2015

Training, education, learning, knowledge, skills, or whatever you call it. If you are a marketing coordinator, a senior manager, principal or CEO, you seek more of this. And, you like to spend your time wisely. Most of all, you want something of value out of your learning investment. Yet, time and again, you experience little…

Who Says Only Senior Managers Can Generate Sales?

By Doug Foster | August 5, 2015

Who brings in the business in your firm? Usually it is the senior managers. Think about how strong business would be if everyone– CEO, CFO, Project Manager, and junior Engineer/Architect/Scientist– also contributed. What do each of you have in common? Each of your livelihoods are impacted by your contribution to generating revenue. You are either billable…

How to Improve Client Relationships Just by Listening

By Doug Foster | July 23, 2015

We are in a technical business employing a lot of technical people who deliver services. Usually, it is a very small number who contribute directly to bringing in new business. How much business would your firm have if every single employee had direct involvement in landing new and interesting projects? You probably just thought, “Way…

Why you should discuss business innovation before best practices

By Doug Foster | May 29, 2015

I think we can all agree that AEC leaders and their firms like to do their best. It’s the nature of those in the industry, right? So, the question is, “what is best?” Is it best in services, or best in business? Which comes first? No two firms are alike and they are guided by…

Learn what successful bosses do to build the most effective team

By Doug Foster | May 7, 2015

Skimping on personnel may help your budget in the short-term but will hurt your bottom line in the long-term, not to mention your quality of life. Look around at your valued employees. What makes them great? Do you use this criteria to find exceptional candidates or settle on sub-par candidates due to failure to offer…

Why top performing project managers produce top level profits

By Doug Foster | May 4, 2015

New projects are exciting and new business is necessary for survival. If you don’t take the time to scope the project and price it right, you’ll lose more than profit. Can your firm afford to lose its good reputation, be known for providing poor service and, thus, create low staff morale? A lesson I learned…

How to turn on a dime, seize market opportunities and maximize profits

By Doug Foster | April 24, 2015

California’s historic drought is all over the news. You can’t escape it. And, for those people and businesses affected, it’s a tragedy. Like any natural disaster, there are industries, such as engineering and energy in this case, that can benefit from them. How can your firm make a much-needed difference and grow profits?  When working…

It takes a village– how to develop your own personal community of advisors

By Doug Foster | April 17, 2015

It can be lonely at the top but it doesn’t have to be. Just as your employees rely on each other for collaboration, brainstorming, feedback, etc., you too, as the leader, need this support. But it doesn’t always come naturally when you’re the CEO. For example, since employees won’t necessarily feel comfortable providing you honest feedback,…

Secrets of 7 successful companies that do some things badly

By Doug Foster | April 9, 2015

Is being bad part of your strategy? It seems counter-productive, doesn’t it? But it’s not. Successful companies know this secret and practice it so that they can be the best at their priorities. The concept of focusing on a single business model is not new. In 1995, Treacy and Wiersema wrote “The Discipline of Market Leaders.” They…

Lessons on CEO burnout, how to spot it, how to resolve it

By Doug Foster | March 27, 2015

Part of being an effective leader is to constantly evaluate yourself. It can be difficult to objectively determine how you’re doing– to see yourself as others see you. The problem of leadership burnout is that no one is going to tell you. No one is going to come into your office and tell you that you’re…

Feel like it’s all on your CEO shoulders? It does not have to be.

By Doug Foster | March 11, 2015

Have you considered that trusted advisers might be key to your successful career? You probably have. In fact, a survey published in Harvard Business Review in 2013, reported that nearly all CEOs say they saw value in having an adviser. But, did you do it? Probably not. Nearly 2/3 of the CEOs reported they had…

CEOs’ top role: Get the most out of your employees

By Doug Foster | February 19, 2015

When talking strategic direction, we often talk in terms of the role of the CEO and what he or she must do to encourage greater productivity and alignment. We don’t focus as much on the role of the employees, although we all know we’d be nowhere without them. We understand leadership starts at the top and an effective leader encourages employees to act…

If you’re not leading with these, your company is jeopardizing success

By Doug Foster | February 16, 2015

As a leader, your job is to look at the big picture and, naturally, much of your attention is on essential items like growing revenue and controlling expenses. Typically, there’s less time spent strategizing on how to lead than the leading itself. But, what if you could lead your firm in a more enlightened way,…

what 4 things do you do to make it so

Strategic Execution– What 4 things must you do to “make it so”?

By Doug Foster | February 7, 2015

The planning process is essential to establishing broad goals, but it doesn’t just start or stop there. Next, you must execute consistently on clearly identified steps that build to the ultimate goals identified in your strategic plan. In the case study below, you’ll see innovative actions that ultimately led to the firm’s success. They include: hiring…

Four things to do to grow

Must use simple tool to develop and grow your business!

By Doug Foster | January 27, 2015

In a recent podcast produced by Matt Handal, author of Proposal Secrets, titled Growing A/E/C Firms with Doug Reed, I share how a unique approach centered around an accounting mechanism (the timesheet) that most of our firms use, will help firms grow even during the most challenging economy. I know because I was a consulting engineering firm…

Hire for Growth, Educate to Execute (A true story)

By Doug Foster | December 15, 2014

The planning process is essential to establish broad goals, but it doesn’t start or stop there. As owners, if you have an interest in growing the business, success will come a lot easier if your employees are growth minded. The way to accomplish this is to attract and hire people who have demonstrated a drive to learn,…

You don’t have to accept lower profit margins

By Doug Foster | September 16, 2014

Even though firms are reporting more revenue and RFPs, the profit on new work is lower. During a recession, pundits say that firms should invest the most in client relationships and sales during a recession, but they predicted most would not. Pundits predicated that as revenue declined within a firm’s market sector they would try to get into…

Design-build risks– solutions to participate in the new generation of projects

By Doug Foster | August 18, 2014

Challenge Small and medium engineering and architectural firms are having a tough time in the alternative delivery market. At a recent conference of engineering consultants, small firms (less than 50 employees) identified this as a top three area of concern. They identified that they feel compelled to participate in the market and to agree to…

For best results don’t just learn, learn right

By Doug Foster | July 26, 2014

As a staff engineer on the cusp of securing my professional license, my employer gave me opportunities to support new business pursuits. While I happened to be successful on the first few, I don’t give myself the credit. I give the credit to the owners and senior managers of the firm who gave me the…

CEOs and CFOs can endear their creditors by sharing their sales process

By Doug Foster | July 16, 2014

CRMs have been a tough sell for many professional services firms because they were seen as adding work. So, I often end up implementing a simplified system that mainly used the Opportunities tracking module. I think that the newer cloud based systems have overcome many objections and their use is finally starting to sink in.…

To broaden sales participation, the CEO must remove barriers

By Doug Foster | June 18, 2014

As a principal in charge of the largest division of a 130 person firm, a first step in implementing a highly efficient sales program was to make sure everyone knew the latest sales methods and spoke a common sales language. Since operations and finance managers were a potential barrier to broaden sales, all senior managers went…

I am 95% billable and I generate business for my company

By Doug Foster | June 6, 2014

Many professional service firms’ CEOs and managers are convinced that time spent on overhead activities detracts from the revenue of the company by lowering billability. This is one of the largest misconceptions I have seen. In both my corporate experience and with clients I applied a technique that maintained high billability and generated sales, even…

Creating change is a top-down imperative

By Doug Foster | May 30, 2014

Those who control person’s job status, salary and recognition within the firm have ultimate control.  Does this mean a CEO can order change to occur?  My observations are consistent with organizational behavior theory.  The answer is no, at least in the professional environment where I spent over 35 years of my career. What I have…

Professional services industry trends and solutions

By Doug Foster | May 21, 2014

The industry sales model is changing. It is moving solidly to a seller-doer model and away from having dedicated sales responsible staff. The SMPS Foundation conducted and published a research report in 2013 called A/E/C BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT – The Decade Ahead that supports this. In the last ten years, twenty one-percent of SMPS member firms…

In a successful organization, sales is part of everybody’s job

By Doug Foster | May 15, 2014

In a successful organization, sales is part of everybody’s job. Most firms have only a few persons who are actively engaged in generating revenue. There is often tension over being billable and helping to secure the next project. This is not limited to management. Staff at all levels feels this tension, so the action of…

You don’t need to be senior to stimulate healthy sales behavior

By Doug Foster | April 15, 2014

Consider doing this. As a CEO, ask  your staff to have a conversation with their clients that has nothing to do with the project.  As a Marketing Manager or Coordinator, when staff tells you they are conducting a client visit for a proposal, ask them to bring back something about the client, like what that client person…

Certainty blasts away career limits

By Doug Foster | April 14, 2014

You may be a CEO, or you may be a mid-level technical or business professional. Either way, to reach your goal with the certainty that you will be better off and happy, you first need to believe in the outcome of your decisions. Remember that certainty is built on belief. Olympic runner Roger Banister believed he could run a mile…

Technical staff has what it takes to win clients

By Doug Foster | April 14, 2014

This is a quick note with thanks for the fortune of a valuable lesson that impacted my career. The following is my story. This may remind you of a similar experience.  Now is a good time to thank those who helped shape your career and to think about how you might help someone by challenging…

Prioritizing resources for growth

By Doug Foster | April 14, 2014

Small- and medium-sized professional services companies often have a hard time prioritizing resources for investing in their future.  And for those who understand that riding the new economy requires new skills, then the transformation into a learning culture is imperative. Analyzing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your organization’s significant influencers is an adaptation of…

Society Views A/E and Environmental Industries Positively-How Do We Leverage That?

By Doug Reed | March 11, 2018

As a leader, how often do you ask yourself if you can do more to benefit society while keeping consistent with your firm’s mission? Is there another stream of revenue– one that is particularly meaningful– that you are leaving untapped?  If you’re unsure about how to get started, begin with your firm’s strategic plan. Michael Porter…

2016 DBAssociationTranssurvey

DB: A/E Business Viability Risk or Sustainable Practice?

By Doug Reed | December 11, 2017

What has the A/E industry learned after 30 years of Design-Build and CM-at-Risk infrastructure projects? The industry has learned that owners love it. And, they have learned that it has stung many A/E firms.  It is clear that the owners are the winners, not A/E firms. Must A/E firms continue to be the victim or…

Doug Reed and Chuck Berry

Making Money Leads to Good Things

By Doug Reed | September 8, 2017

New projects are exciting and new business is necessary for survival. If you don’t take the time to scope the project and price it right, you’ll lose more than profit. Can your firm afford to lose its good reputation, be known for providing poor service and, thus, create low staff morale? Oh, by the way,…

SWOT Your Way to Your Future

By Doug Reed | June 23, 2017

Growing a business in not natural for most

Your firm is missing revenue if junior staff isn’t billable

By Doug Reed | September 21, 2015

The best use of technical staff is to be billable, right?  One needs more technical and managerial experience to be effective at sales, right?  Yet, there are 3-4 times more junior staff then senior staff. If you could get that many more people driving sales just how fast can you go? Lucky for me I…