Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2014 - Looking towards new pastures?

Looks like we're here to stay after two full calendar years on the Surveying map we are still going strong and looking to the future, but what will the future hold?

2013 - Green shoots of growth in the economy

Surveyors see it coming first in the construction industry, but we also see the end of the tunnel before anyone else does.  This year has seen the industry starting to recover from the dark years of 2010 -2012, I would show a graph of our progress but imagine a straight line increasing equally in X & Y and you're there!!

Clearly there has been improvement, but as a company this is probably masked by the fact that our name is gradually getting out there, so a percentage of the growth is organic growth anyway but far beyond the expectations we had hoped for.  I have to give some credit to this years improvement to our dabblings in the employment market providing the ability to carry out 50% more jobs at any one time than previously, so this proves employing is the right route - we just have to find the right person for the role!

The Milestones
Whoops, didn't see that ditch!
MBS by an open fire
2013 also marks our first full year as an ISO9001 accredited firm, and as a little treat for the first week of 2014 we have our first external audit review - this won't be a case of sleepless nights beforehand preparing because amazingly all of our internal audits are up to date, and we have kept on top of any outstanding issues.  Hopefully the audit will be a time to hone the system, and spot any points for improvement and streamlining!

Scanning the lifeboat station
Early start to Southampton rewarded
Our overall tenders for the year have surpassed the magical 200 figure (I may be high on Christmas cheer, not sure magical is really the best description!), in fact we have almost hit that mark using just our Topographical Surveys.  Invoicing has broken through it's own barrier, now the challenge moving forward will be to consolidate this position, and improve further but this won't be possible without the investment in staff and possibly even more equipment!
Damp day in Rye

This year our staff have covered the miles again going out west as far as Southampton, spreading our wings north into Essex more (no point mentioning south and east giving our location expanding that way would make us very wet or international!!)

A few memories of the year (good & bad), showing the work we have completed scattered around.  But by far our largest investment in time and resources was the 'Mission Impossible' work carried out Trekking across the Swanscombe marshes through reeds, water, brambles, mud flats, quarry faces - never before have we felt our age so much!  Hopefully this job will be tied up early in the new year, and the fruits of our labours will start appearing in the coming years so watch this space!

A little break from normality on the blog, just so some of you can appreciate the fine messes we get ourselves into whilst working.  Both 360 films come from the same site within hours of each other - nothing if not diverse!  Please excuse the filming - not my strong suit, the the ground was a little unstable.  Moments before I was in a ditch!!

2014 - where to now?

Clearly more staff and more kit are high on the agenda.  Laser Scanning is starting to prove to be a growth area but is still very much in its infancy.  By far the largest growth area has been Measured Building Surveys this year, and will no doubt continue into 2014.

There are no plans to move offices into a more suitable location as this would incur unnecessary overheads, so this means our prices will remain consistent into the start of the year.

A second office - still on the horizon, but until we can establish more permanent staff at head office I think that would be running before we can walk.

We also have a number of blogs on the back burner you can look forward too (I say optimistically!), I've currently got these planned:-
  • Then & Now, what happens after the Surveyor has gone
  • Know Your Boundaries 
  • Customer Service or Customer Interference
Fingers crossed I won't have the time to finish them because I'll be too busy on fee earning work but realistically I think they'll trickle through over the coming months.

As always our progress can be followed on Facebook (99 Likes - please lets crack a 100 in 2014!!), Twitter, LinkedIn, and who knows we might even get into Google+ & YouTube.  As always our website is there to contact us, and will be updated throughout the year.

Hope you all have a successful 2014.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

To Employ or not to Employ: Part II

Should it really have been this complicated?

Unemployment in the UK is hovering around the 2 million mark yet we found it almost impossible to find a suitable person to fill the role of Senior Surveyor in our Ashford office.

In January 2013 we had advertised the position twice with varying levels of success but finally we found the right person for the job.

Why did it take so long?

In February we received a handful of applications predominantly from UK based Surveyors currently gainfully employed but looking for something more as the industries employment situation has stagnated a little over recent years.  Then in March we were deluged with applications from as far afield as Burma, all seemingly well trained and experienced in their field.  On both occasions we selected our favoured 3 or 4 candidates and found from our selection we had the following combinations:-
  • Experience on site, but lacking any formal processing experience.
  • Currently living well beyond commuting distance from the office, and not looking to move.
  • Perfect for the job, but not currently resident in the UK.
  • No experience or qualifications.
All made excellent first impressions at interview but concerns were raised over the solvency of the business being relatively new, and then the expectations of the potential candidates were a little excessive at times given the current market & their knowledge/experience.  

If I were being brutally honest I can see their point of view given the current employment situation it will always be a risk moving jobs & everyone wants as much as they can get, but it still left us high and dry originally, a situation which has now been rectified.  However during the process, not wishing to boast but for the first time ever I was stood up, standing like a lemon waiting for the candidate to show up - no response to e-mail or mobile.  What happened I'll never know but standing there I was beginning to think Lord Sugar has the right idea, just need to think up some suitable challenges which have a Surveying tilt - suggestions on a postcard please......

What are the solutions?

Investment in the future - if only the money and time were available for this.  But right now there are no quick fixes but long term our second employee will be wet behind the ears and straight from school or university to train up but right at the time we needed someone to hit the ground running and lighten the load.  However with an eye on the future we were joined for a week in the summer by an undergraduate looking to gain a little experience in the industry......watch this space for our next recruiting challenge!

To follow the progress of our staff, and business as a whole you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn, as well as through our website - www.rlsurveys.co.uk

Up Date: At the time of writing this all of the above was true.  However at the time of publishing we are back at square one, and venturing into the employment market for a second time!!!  Ideally we are looking for a cloning machine, but I suspect someone with some experience and a little common sense would be a good start.