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RE: You might be a structural engineer, if .

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David,

There is something to be said regarding the fact that you and I are both
trading emails on Sunday of a holiday weekend, though I'm not quite sure
what...

If you are the gas company you can just shut off the gas, the phone
company you just shut off the phone.  On the flip side, if you do work
for the phone company, there will be a million little accounting items
and insurance certificates and some other reason why they can not issue
you a check for 90 days.

Some of my largest clients routinely pay in 90 days, there just isn't a
way around it.  If an account becomes seriously late, my business
manager will let me know and we will see what we can do.  For the most
part I guess I have been lucky from the viewpoint that though late, we
always get paid.  I have only ever had one project where we did not
receive full payment.

Choosing clients and projects is more than "can we get it", and how
qualified the client is remains a big factor.  Retainers are a great way
to "sniff out" the unqualified, as you said.  Lawyers do it routinely.
Smart realtors want to see financial qualification before they waste a
ton of time showing properties you could never purchase.

One thing we like to do is evaluate whether the project pencils out from
our perspective.  We walked on a hotel project (refused to provide a
proposal) because looking at the project critically, we figured they
would need 90% occupancy at an inflated rate to make the project work,
and we did not feel they would get it.  Another firm took the project,
and it stalled at start of construction.  The engineer (an acquaintance)
ended up settling the bill for 40 cents on the dollar.

I don't pretend it's all roses and champagne, but I do not feel the
apparent dissatisfaction and frustration exhibited in the most recent
"bitch fest".  With regard to payment, I find relying on my business
manager to handle the routine, coupled with realistic expectations
regarding timing, allows me freedom to only have to deal with payment
issues when they become a real issue, not as part of my daily routine.
This in turn enhances my daily satisfaction level.


Paul Feather PE, SE
pfeather(--nospam--at)SE-Solutions.net
www.SE-Solutions.net
 
-----Original Message-----
From: dfisher(--nospam--at)fpse.com [mailto:dfisher(--nospam--at)fpse.com] 
Sent: Sunday, September 02, 2007 11:45 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: RE: You might be a structural engineer, if .

Paul:

For the most part, i agree with you.

As an aside, i recently had lunch with my personal (not
corporate)insurance guy. He asked me what the toughest part of running
my
firm was. I told him "collections"

He really had no idea how to respond, as he stated "well, i guess that's
the one thing about insurance, if you don't pay your bill every month,
you
simply don't have insurance, thats all."

There's a lession to be learned here...just not sure what it is.


i have been resorting to tactics that have proven effective:

1) I now withhold drawings from clients that don't pay.
2) I require a nice retainer on EVERY project, even for repeat clients.

I had a new potential client approach me about a pretty nice new project
last week.

He wanted to meet and "discuss" the new project.

My response "Great, please forward a $10k retainer to my office."

Not unreasaonable, as the total fee would exceed $100k.

After going back and forth email-wise with no reference to the
retainer's
arrival from the "client"


I said finally, "I will not meet until the retainer is in my
hands...sorry"

His response, "Well, i don't have it right NOW so we'd better wait."

IF THE GUY CAN'T PAY ME $10K, HOW CAN HE PAY ME IN EXCESS ON $100k???


Its a great way to "sniff" these guys out.


dlf






dlf









> David,
>
> I understand the frustration of chasing payment; but this is not
necessarily any different in any other business.  Contractor's routinely
chase payment and worse, retainage.  If it's not chasing payment, it's
chasing business.  Even if you own a doughnut shop you need to get
customers to make the whole thing viable.
>
> I won't pretend that my clients necessarily pay any faster than the
balance, or that we have weeded out the slow pay (though we do on some).
I just learned to accept slow pay a long time ago and have built my
business around their normal time frame so I no longer need to stress
over it.  One thing is I don't believe we are one of the cheaper firms,
I charge full value for our services, including additional money for
carrying costs for slow paying customers.  I don't need to argue about
finance charges and all the evil connotations that accompany the
concept, I just tack it on up front as part of the fee.  If they don't
want to pay our fee, fine; they are welcome to go somewhere else.
>
> An associate of mine used to jack up the fee for certain clients by a
few percent, and then offer a 1.5% discount for payments received within
thirty days.  I have not implemented this practice, but from what I
understand it seemed to work fairly well.
>
> I let my business manager chase after the money, and it does not have
that great an impact on my everyday life.
>
>
> Paul Feather PE, SE
> pfeather(--nospam--at)SE-Solutions.net
> www.SE-Solutions.net
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: dfisher(--nospam--at)fpse.com [mailto:dfisher(--nospam--at)fpse.com]
> Sent: Friday, August 31, 2007 7:33 AM
> To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
> Subject: RE: You might be a structural engineer, if .
>
> Paul:
>
> I don't think its disatisfaction with the career, life or income, its
that
> I spend FAR TOO MUCH time chasing money i.e., clients that won't pay.
>
>
> My engineers (I think) are pretty happy. They are paid about 25% above
market, have great benefits, flexible work hours and pretty cool (again,
I
> think) projects to work on.
>
> They have all the fun while I have all the worry.
>
> dlf
>
>
>
>
>
>> Hello Stan,
>> Great to hear from you, you restore my faith.
>> From one of the other apparently isolated engineers who is happy with
the career, life, and income....
>> Paul Feather PE, SE
>> pfeather(--nospam--at)SE-Solutions.net
>> www.SE-Solutions.net
>> ________________________________
>> From: Stan Caldwell [mailto:stancaldwell(--nospam--at)gmail.com]
>> Sent: Wednesday, August 29, 2007 12:52 PM
>> To: SEAINT Listserv
>> Subject: You might be a structural engineer, if ...
>> In recent weeks, I have been somewhat troubled by several posts and
threads that I believe have been overly critical of the profession of
structural engineering.  What follows is my alternate perspective,
> with
>> apologies to Jeff Foxworthy.
>> You might be a (happy/productive/successful) structural engineer, if
> ...
>> 1.      You take considerable pride in being a structural engineer.
> In
>> fact, you view structural engineering as one of the "highest
callings"
imaginable.
>> 2.      You understand that a typical structural engineer plays a
> larger
>> role in public safety than nearly anyone else, and you strive to
practice accordingly.
>> 3.      You view structural engineering as a career, not as a job.
Moreover, you view structural engineering as a profession, not simply
> as
>> an occupation.
>> 4.      You consistently place ethics, integrity, and quality above
> any
>> and all business pressures.
>> 5.      You strive to team effectively with those in other
professions
and treat them as respected peers, but you make all structural
>> engineering decisions independently.
>> 6.      You take considerable pride in the tangible, constructed
> results
>> of your efforts.
>> 7.      For the most part, you truly love your work and genuinely
wake
up each day looking forward to going to your place of employment. 8.   
  You typically work somewhat in excess of 40 hours/week because you
want to, and you couldn't care less about "the clock".
>> 9.      You expect to be fairly compensated with a salary and bonus
based on the value of what you accomplish, not with a wage based on
> the
>> hours that you spend.
>> 10.  You understand and accept the obligation to eventually give
something back to the profession of structural engineering through
financial contributions, active participation in professional
>> organizations, or some other means.
>> I created this list in an hour or so and made no attempt to massage
> it.
>> Some of the words could undoubtedly be improved, and other
>> attributes/attitudes might very well be worthy of inclusion.
>> Nevertheless, based on my experience as a happy, productive, and
successful structural engineer, I firmly believe in the validity and
importance of the ten points above.
>> Best regards,
>> Stan R. Caldwell, P.E.
>> Richardson, Texas
>
>
>
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