One of the most challenging aspects of being a professional service provider is placing the proper value on your time. The reason you went into business was because you believed in yourself and service. But when the time comes to place a dollar value on them, many of us struggle to translate that belief into fair pricing that doesn’t give our services away.
Licensed Land Surveyors provide a good example here. We charge a fixed hourly rate for professional-level office work such as complex calculations or preparation of legal descriptions. But when we work in the field on a one-man or two-man survey crew, the standard field rates usually apply which often pay less than our office rate. The theory being that most field work can be accomplished by less-experienced and unlicensed technicians.
So we’re paying ourselves less when we walk out the office door even though our wisdom and experience follow us. That’s a misunderstanding of our value. Yes, less-experienced technicians can be productive in the field. But there’s an entirely different dimension and potential that it pays to understand when that survey crew includes or consists of a Licensed Land Surveyor.
The key to understanding your professional value is knowing when your presence and input will save or make someone money. A Licensed Land Surveyor has one key advantage: the ability to see the big picture in smaller tasks and how those smaller tasks can be stitched together to save or make money for an owner. For example: once while on a routine construction staking job, I saw an opportunity to eliminate an entire day of staking by making a simple adjustment in procedure which I did. This one “ah ha” moment saved the project owner several thousand dollars. A lower-level technician would have breezed right by the opportunity.
Experienced professionals see the big picture of a project, from start to end and all parts in-between. Often we participate in initial scope of work conversations where owners not only define our duties, but their financial desires and goals for the project as well. This information which only we are privileged to, is vital in helping us identify situations where we can have an impact on a project’s bottom-line success. In my opinion, this speaks directly to the value of my presence whether I’m in the field or office. And because I gather information like this and seize opportunities to act upon it, I have a better understanding of my true and fair professional value to someone.
But, like me, you may have some explaining to do. Your value is directly proportional to your ability to actually explain and demonstrate it. Situational cost savings may not be as obvious to a client as they are to you. Don’t be afraid to raise your hand and share when something you’ve done either saved or made money for someone. They will appreciate knowing: wouldn’t you?
This is all part of the joy and satisfaction of being a professional and owning your own business. You have opportunities to put years of wisdom and experience to good use. You can make a real difference if that’s what you want to do. Experienced professionals bring something extra to each and every situation they are in. We are teachers, managers, motivators and often the voice of reason in times of conflict. And we genuinely care about a project’s success—not just our own. There is great value in that.