What would it take?
dgm-pls, I gotta chime in on this.
"At some places that I have worked, the staff couldn't get out the door fast enough at quitting time. Not all but a large percentage". Well they call it quitting time for a reason.
The people that you see there later would nearly always be the people that were interested in promotions and raises (and know how to earn them). This is one of those topics that tends to get me in trouble but to suggest that a raise is determined by who is willing to work overtime for free is part and parcel with many of the problems we have as a profession.
The other factor that would help boost the mentoring side is to pay lower staff a wage higher than they can make at home depot. Now you're talking. I see so many survey companies prostituting themselves and paying their workers cheaper than a street walking hooker. And they wonder why they can't find or keep employees.
No one forces us to pay people certain wages other than economic realities. Today's economics should have all levels virtually swimming in cash. Are they?Are you kidding me? Surveyors are the only group of people that will buy expensive equipment that allows them to do a job more efficiently and faster and charge less. It is the damndest thing I have ever seen in my life and they go through mental contortions justifying it. And because they habitually work for wages they rarely if ever make a profit, can't pay people good salaries with benefits, pay bonuses or buy new equipment. And I am probably describing half the posters here.
I see most early entries into the survey world as people that are making ok money but they have to live farther and farther away from their work area to keep up with the cost factors of living. This reduces quality of life for a lot of people and also keeps people from thinking that this profession is worthy of advancement. Part of that is a sales job on "our" part and part of that is being real about pay scales. You get what you pay for in nearly all cases.
You will find most surveyors working well into their retirement years and it is typically in those retirement years that they finally realize they have been underpricing their work for decades but it is usually too late for them to make a correction as the damage is done and their fate is sealed and they will be swinging a bush axe in their twilight years instead of fishing or spending time with grandkids. Many (most) are good men and good surveyors but they are piss poor businessmen and the folks they have trained up and mentored learn those same poor business practices and the cycle repeats itself. Most surveyors could double or triple their fees before they get to where they actually need to be to pay decent wages, buy good equipment and offer decent benefits.
I love surveying but I would not recommend it for anyone.
Today's economics should have all levels virtually swimming in cash. Are they? I see most early entries into the survey world as people that are making ok money but they have to live farther and farther away from their work area to keep up with the cost factors of living.
This is something I spend more time thinking about than I wish I did. When I got out of school I doubled my pay overnight just from being a degree holder which was great. But since then even though the economy has been on fire it seems like I can't afford to live any better. I truly don't understand it.
@BStrand when it comes to money and the topic of this thread I am an outlier. I believe that most surveyors underprice their work product by a factor of 2 or 3, meaning they would have to raise their current fees 2 or 3 times to actually get to a point where they are making enough money to:
1) to hire competent people.
2) pay those competent people a decent wage higher than they can make working at a less demanding job. Let's face it most entry level survey help are paid less than Home Depot pays a shelf stocker.
3) you have to have the budget to train.
4) benefits. Few small companies pay benefits and there is no reason why they shouldn't other than the glaring reality that they are cheap a$$'es. They are the low price leaders.
5) modernize their equipment. I know of no less than 4 surveyors near me who are using DOS programs.
Look, I know I am an outlier and I realize most surveyors are going to deny what I'm writing about and loudly proclaim for the world to hear, "I am not a cheap a$$ surveyor, it's the other guy" . They are going to continue with their head in the sand.
Think about this; How many surveyors actually build profit into the jobs?
How many charge full freight for travel?
How many charge for research or consultation?
How many actually treat their field crews and drafters as 100% efficient when they are usually closer to 65% efficient?
How many charge for go backs to set pins?
And on and on.
It is all those things combined that have the surveyors backed into a corner. They have painted themselves into a corner and can't get out. Oh, to be sure their billing rates might actually be reasonable but they do not use them and are just for show. They may have a $175 hr 2 man crew rate but will send them out to do a small job and spend 5 hours traveling and doing the job then take it back to the office for another couple of hours drafting at $85 hour and only charge $650.
More often than not their crew rates are just for show.
It only takes 1 or 2 surveyors in an area charging cut rate prices and it will be a race to the bottom but when you have double or triple that number offering up cut rate prices it will be incredibly tough.
I have been saying for a long time that most surveyors are good and decent men and most are good surveyors but they are pi$$ poor businessmen. They are good technicians but terrible businessmen who know nothing of economics. I am a huge advocate for the state societies to drop the slavish devotion of offering technical seminars with subject matter we are all familiar with and instead offer 2 day workshops on The Economics of Running a Small Business. This should be offered nationwide at every technical seminar and never end. We don't need to hear from Jeff Lucas preaching about deed interpretations or the latest geoid crap. We need business topics.
Incidentally I just let my Idaho license lapse.
Now cue the wailing and gnashing of teeth, 3,2,1.
5) modernize their equipment.
My wife, an accountant, once told me a certain percentage of profit should go towards capital expenditure. Are those DOS programs you describe used for COGO?
How many charge for research or consultation?
If you were an attorney, the answer would be obvious.
We are a large firm and see this "lack of mentoring" across all offices. To help curb some of the lack of knowledge, the department I'm in visits our satellite offices and we cover the basics. Everything from GPS theory and proper traverse geometry to processing field data.
We typically operate with two man crews these days.