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Bring in more business

Bring in more business

Bring in more business

I started my own MEP firm about 3 months ago in Fort Worth, Texas.  I know people and have connections in larger companies and facilities, but I have since found out if a firm has not directly designed buildings and facilities in the past, they are not willing to give any chances.  My question is what is the best approach to find smaller size projects for a small MEP firm?  For example: Retail stores, warehouses, churches, movie theators, etc.  I need to pay the bills and keep the lights on, so any help will be greatly appreciated.  

RE: Bring in more business

Your best lead for new design/construction is obviously through the architect.  Find a few small architects and develop a relationship.  The more you stay in front of them, the more likely you'll get work from them.

Check with local AC contractors.  Very few have engineers on staff, so if they run into a project that needs MEP services, maybe they'll refer you.

Nibble at anything you can find first, developing a project/client list as you go.  Use your past experience as well.  There's nothing wrong with stating that you designed a project while you worked for someone else.

Good luck.

RE: Bring in more business

What is "MEP"?

RE: Bring in more business

Mechanical-Electrical-Plumbing...as applied to buildings.

RE: Bring in more business

Thank you.


RE: Bring in more business

Adding to Ron's- I was in your shoes 3 years ago.  This has worked for me:

1-got a professional website
2-started advertizing on Google Adwords
3-kept prices 15% below what my last employer would have charged
4-gave fast service  
5-returned missed calls and emails in 2 hours and
6-sent proposal the same day it was requested

items 1 and 2 are a must.  Do not be bashful about taking on residential work.  Business environment is much better now than even 6 months ago. Best wishes.

RE: Bring in more business


I have found that your 4, 5 and 6 REALLY help! You do that and you will be able to keep the 15% - SOON ENOUGH.

RE: Bring in more business

I like most of the list, but I have a problem with #3.  I don't do any work for individuals (so maybe my experience is from a different population).  I found that when I recently raised my hourly rate 50% my work load increased.  When I started the business my rate was the highest around.  Over the last 8 years inflation has caught up and now companies are charging out 5-year engineers at a higher rate than I'm charging.  I went up a bit and I have the highest hourly rate in this area again.  I definitely don't get lost in the crowd.


RE: Bring in more business


There is to price to pay to get established.  I would rather loose 15% to get an established firm in 2 more years than scratch my head and blame economy and politicians.  The client's mentality has changed.  There are clients switching from consultants they used for 20 years just because of 10% fee difference.


You need to read lots of marketing books.  You can also look up SCORE. They are retired business owners who give free advice to start up companies like yours.


When I started out of school in the early nineties, I worked for a consulting firm that was 10 years old back then.  So one day I chatted with one of the owners about how they got started with double digit inflation and interest rate of 20% ?  They said that was the price they paid to establish their firm.  It is all about long term goals.  Anyhow, once we are established we plan to charge 10% higher and only target certain industries.  For now, I am happy to be self employed and working all 5 days a week.


RE: Bring in more business

Fixed Earth -

To get started you may need to charge less - I did.  My point was you will quickly make that up if you follow 4,5,6.  Your good reputation will finally allow you to charge more!! I do.... and people really appreciate the "quick" service - esp on small jobs.

And if they have carpenters, plumbers, HVAC guys standing around for a decision - you WILL definitely make it worth their while to pay more!!

RE: Bring in more business

I see your point-Thanks.  Mike, Did it take you 5 years to charge the same as the larger more established firms?

ssn61- I forgot to mention- try not to have one client be a large percentage of your total billing.

RE: Bring in more business

I kind of use a "floating" rate - new customers got the better rate and the old ones got up-charged - but they stayed because of service.

RE: Bring in more business

does anybody have an example of what "self-lauditory" means exactly and does it apply to advertising your new practice?

are postcard type advertisements considered bad practice? if so, how do you get the word out that your on your own?


RE: Bring in more business

Thank you everyone for the great suggestions, specially Ron and FixedEarth.  I would appreciate even more if I could get information and advice more into "HOW TO's" rather than "WHAT TO DO's".  I mean, what is the best way to find and approach small architects or local contractors.  I know it seems simple, but believe me, when I tried, I found most doors shut.  I know there are all kinds of ways, but what is the most practical way?   

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