Predicting the outlook for the U.S. economy and its market sectors is never easy, but 2024 presents particularly difficult and unique challenges. Even if you assume that the dysfunction in Congress dissipates and the likely historic presidential race between a politically unpopular octogenarian incumbent, an antagonistic septuagenarian facing 91 criminal charges, and an outlying independent from Camelot is more a sideshow than a driver, 2024 still has its share of questions. Will inflation remain in check? Will the Fed continue to raise interest rates? How will the conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East impact our economy? What’s China’s next move? What of the stock and bond markets? Nostradamus might call it quits faced with these uncertainties, but in this issue of The Friedman File, we fearlessly attempt to assess the various major markets served by A/E/C firms and venture an educated guess […]
Few issues have dominated a news cycle the way that artificial intelligence (AI) has in 2023. The watershed moment was the release of ChatGPT, a transformative word processing tool that uses AI to quickly, efficiently and comprehensively answer questions posed to it. Almost immediately, people and businesses found myriad ways to use ChatGPT’s functionality to save time while developing written content and performing other tasks. In this issue of The Friedman File, we look at how some A/E/C firms are using AI, and what you should do – and shouldn’t do – to make it work for your firm.
BD & AI: Great Match or Mismatch?
Marketing and business development is the area most expected to benefit from the use of AI. While many firms are still in the investigation and discussion phase of figuring out how AI can benefit their marketing/BD effort, some firms […]
The surprises of the midterm election are behind us, and the uncertainty of 2023 lies ahead. In the last year, we experienced skyrocketing energy prices that eventually moderated, historically high inflation that has begun to temper, and major legislation kicking in that is likely to keep the good times rolling for many architecture, engineering and environmental consulting firms well into the future. In this issue of The Friedman File, we assess various markets served by A/E/C firms and venture an educated guess at their outlook for the coming year.
The Housing Divide
One of the biggest and most unexpected developments of late 2021 and early 2022 was the health of the housing construction market across all types. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index stood at a near-record-high level of 83 in January 2022, but gradually began to drop as the year […]
These are confusing times for AEC firms wondering where their markets are heading. Most sectors are recovering as economies in the U.S., Canada and across the globe emerge from the pandemic-induced slowdown. Some – particularly in the commercial and educational spaces – continue to struggle in many locations. Add to this the threat of inflation in materials pricing leading to escalating project costs, and the potential of a $1.9 trillion U.S.-government-backed infrastructure package, and you have an industry in flux.
In this issue of The Friedman File, we assess the current state and outlook for the markets that AEC firms serve, as well as disruptors and catalysts that could dictate the health of the industry for the next several years.
Recovery in Full Swing
Since 2003, consulting and publishing firm PSMJ Resources, Inc. has surveyed its customers about the outlook for the major AEC markets, using […]
When the economy starts to look rocky and project opportunities may be diminishing, it can be tempting to start saying yes to work that’s not a great fit (but it’s work) or chasing RFPs.
I saw a lot of this happening during the Global Financial Crisis (2008–2009), and I’m seeing it again now. In times of uncertainty, of course, we may be more willing to take on a project that is not ideal. But too often, firms start to convince themselves that throwing best practices out the window is their best option.
In this issue of The Friedman File, we’re talking about why that’s not a good idea and offering some helpful guidelines for creating and implementing a thoughtful client selection process, one that strengthens your firm for the future.
What we’re doing that isn’t working
Many firms do have informal go/no-go processes in place. But the […]
We talk a lot about market sectors in the A/E/C industry—whether they’re up or down, which ones we can compete in, and which strategies will help our firms stand apart as leaders. What we don’t talk enough about is how our firms can be out in front, helping to develop a market and essentially creating demand for their services.
In this issue of The Friedman File, we’re talking with a firm that isn’t content to wait on future opportunities—they’re making them. At 300-person MEP and building services firm Jaros, Baum & Bolles (JB&B) (New York, NY), they’re rolling up their sleeves and bringing constituencies together to build a market from the ground up.
JB&B has been working in institutional life sciences design—and in New York—for years. So when local real estate brokers began asking what it would take to reposition a property to serve these […]
In the years that Friedman & Partners has been in business, we have again and again seen the power of successful thought leadership efforts to ignite business. And yet, there are still many firms that get stuck in effectively adapting this proven marketing strategy and implementing it consistently.
That’s why, in this issue of The Friedman File, we’re sharing how one firm has taken a creative approach to becoming a trusted advisor in a niche market. Here’s what 120-person A/E firm GLMVArchitecture (Wichita, KS) did in their zoos and aquariums practice, and what they’ve learned along the way.
“In many industries, we become insular in the way that we think,” says organizational development consultant and self-proclaimed zoo nerd Michael Clifford, GLMV’s Curator of Innovation and Partnerships, who runs the firm’s ECHO Initiative. “Zoos are established organizations, often run by municipalities and private 503(c)3s, and are not […]
Many times, when AEC and environmental consulting firms think about business development, they’re focused on bringing in new clients and expanding their reach. While this is an incredibly important part of your business growth, what’s equally important is building your relationships with the clients that you already have.
This month in The Friedman File, we’re focusing on how you can—and must— actively strengthen your relationships with existing clients on an ongoing basis. It can be easy to fall into the trap of putting this type of engagement on autopilot, especially when you’re managing a heavy workload. But having solid client relationship management practices in place can streamline the process and help to protect your firm from changing economic or market cycles.
Not only is it more cost-effective and easier to sell more work to your existing clients (and have them refer you) than to continually […]
In this issue of The Friedman File, business partner Jerry Guerra of The JAGG Group shares his candid thoughts and advice on the much-debated topic of market research. Jerry is a skilled researcher, writer, and PR/communications specialist who has collaborated with me on many projects for architects, engineers and environmental consultants. —Rich Friedman.
In many A/E/C firms, market research is a wasted activity driven by ignorance, cursed by laziness and devoid of any understanding of where its true value lies. The inevitable result is a massive gap between the promise of an intelligent market research program that helps a firm succeed and grow, and the futility of the actual market research efforts that far too many firms pursue.
We pay for expensive online services, scour the business papers and trade journals for long-range leads, hire ex-government employees to identify and harvest opportunities, sit through economic […]
The Friedman File readers know the importance I place on asking clients and prospects probing questions — whether it’s to:
- Learn more about their organization and role, their greatest challenges, and trends and drivers impacting their success
- Determine how they define and measure value from a firm like yours
- Identify who they view as your most potent competitors and why
- Assess how you’re performing on a project
- Better understand why you won or lost a recent project pursuit
In this issue, I want to focus on a key area — eliciting client feedback to enable your firm to assess the value you bring to the table. As a strategy consultant to the A/E/C industry, I see far too many firms struggle with determining and articulating their differentiators, benefits (not features!), and value. All too often, expensive off-sites are held where principals, marketing staff, and […]