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Survey focuses on performance of small engineering and architecture firms

Late last year, ZweigWhite issued a comprehensive survey of small architecture and engineering firm performances in...


Late last year, ZweigWhite issued a comprehensive survey of small architecture and engineering firm performances in the United States.
While the number of participants was not large, ranging between approximately 15 to 90 firms, depending on the topic, the survey is detailed and provides interesting comparisons for small consulting engineering firms in Canada. It covers everything from financial performance, to marketing, IT spending and human resource issues.
The survey breaks down its results into two groups, those with 1-24 employees, and those with 25-49, counting professional and administrative staff.
In the chapter on Financial Performance, for example, the survey found that firms with 1-24 employees had a median net, pre-tax, pre-bonus profit or loss on net service revenue of 4.4%, while those with 25-49 employees had a higher performance of 11.0%. Net pre-tax, pre-bonus profit or loss per total staff for firms with 1-24 employees was US $5,286, and $9,614 for firms with 25-49 employees (all median figures). Net service revenue per professional/technical staff member was US $103,025 for the firms with 1-24 employees and US $119,178 per employee for the firms with 25-49 employees. The breakeven multiplier for firms with 1-24 employees was 2.75, and for firms with 25-49 employees was 2.27.
In the Human Resources area, the survey found that 86% of firms conducted performance appraisals of employees. However, only 37-47% of firms did those performance reviews of all staff. Only 22% of firms contributed to staff pension plans.
Also included are statistics on setting fees, methods of reviewing contracts, and policies on subconsultants. For example, between 77-94% of firms had a standard mark-up for subconsultants, which was 12% for firms with 1-24 employees, and 15% for firms with 25-49 employees.
The 2004-2005 Small Firm Survey is published by ZweigWhite in Natick, Massachussets. The 256-page survey costs US $275. Visit www.zweigwhite.com