Quantity Surveyors: Is it all plain sailing from here?

Written by: Oyster Partnership
Published On: 11 Aug 2015

As the construction market matures into a period of sustained growth it’s time to ask yourself whether your employer is ready to capitalise on market conditions or if their complacency is set to cause them issues which will bring your career to a stuttering halt.

Just because the climate is getting hotter, don’t be naive enough to think that everyone is going to benefit… just ask the polar bears!

The reality is that the buoyant market has paved the way for an uprising of glossy new players, foreign investors, high-profile mergers, buy-outs and power plays – which is all great news.

The issue is, if today’s market is considered to be in growth mode - with just about enough clients, consultants, contractors, projects, materials, and trained professionals to go around -  then the next challenge is going to be a serious bout of Competitive Turbulence.

The pressure is already starting to pile on and it’s time to pose the question; where is my current employer heading? As the new players continue to post impressive figures and the pre-existing competition becomes more agile, I am already second guessing which of the dinosaurs could be on the brink of extinction.

The sceptics will never believe it’s going to happen until it's already too late to react, whilst the forward-thinkers are already planning ahead. It's time to sink or swim!

Here's a simple breakdown of the three main types of companies out there right now;

The Sinkers

Business Development:
- Delivering stop-start schemes for flaky clients
- Unwilling or unable to branch out and attract more profitable work

Business Strategy:
- A serious lack of organisation from the top
- Problems are only addressed once they are considered to be Business Critical

People: 
- String of recent departures… Particularly at recently MRICS or Senior Surveyor level 
- Insufficient replacements – both in terms of numbers and quality

Impacts on your career:
- More responsibility… Every sinking ship needs a hero!
- Lack of training leading to stunted career progression – both short and long term
- Increased competition in the market means things are only going to get worse
Beware of any company that offers you a salary which is too good to be true… are they just another desperate sinker?*

The Floaters

Business Development:
- Concentrating on repeat business with existing clients, occasionally adding the odd new account.

Business Strategy:
- Making every effort to resist getting caught up in the rat race for new work
- Happy to continue to grow steadily

People:
- Holding onto a core of loyal surveyors – for now!
- Maintaining size

Impacts on your career:
- Steady career growth
- You know what you’re signing up for
- Likely to be overtaken by their more successful competitors
- Leading to salaries which trail behind the market rate, an exodus of staff who head for greener pastures and a drop in the quality of their service
- Worst case scenario is this leads to losing key accounts – which is a huge issue if your lack of emphasis on BD has left you unable to compete with your more attractive competitors

The Swimmers

Business Development: 
- Winning profitable and high quality projects.
- Healthy mix of repeat business and new clients

Business Strategy: 
- An all-consuming entity, the only concern is whether they are burning so bright that they will inevitably turn into a flash in the pan

People: 
- Retaining key members of staff
- High standards of training for junior members of the team
- Net growth

Impacts on your career:
- Genuine need for people to climb the ladder and deliver high profile projects
- Learning from the most innovative and forward thinking minds in the business
- If you are gunning for client ownership, promotions and bonuses your colleagues probably have similar goals in mind… you are going to be in for some stiff competition!

The last eighteen months may have been full of success but the real challenge is coming.

Jake Major, Oyster Partnership