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Drumming up more work

Drumming up more work

Drumming up more work

My 9-5 work is slowing down a bit, and I am interested in doing more consulting work as a Professional Engineer. I have done some work in the energy effiency sector, and enjoy this work, but have a hard time trying to grow my business. Any suggestions of how I would go about trying to get more work?

I've tried cold calling / cold e-mail / web, but it hasn't seemed to be too effective at getting it. The only real success I've had is from Craigslist, but jobs that I actually want to do are far and few between.

Thanks for any suggestions.

RE: Drumming up more work

Tried Google Ads yet?

Hydrology, Drainage Analysis, Flood Studies, and Complex Stormwater Litigation for Atlanta and the South East - http://www.campbellcivil.com

RE: Drumming up more work

I don't advertise in things like Craigslist or even the Yellow Pages--I've tried that and the the people looking for engineers in them want to spend less than minimum wage.

My best advertising is my posts on eng-tips.com in combination with my web site (I get 400 unique visitors/week).  That combination give prospective clients a feel for my ability to communicate, my breadth and depth of knowledge, and my willingness to admit when I'm wrong.  This has often been enough for clients to find me.


David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering
Please see FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips Fora.

"It is always a poor idea to ask your Bridge Club for medical advice or a collection of geek engineers for legal advice"

RE: Drumming up more work

I believe you need to do some more research, as to whom is your target client?. Is it commercial, industrial or domestic. These all require vary different approaches to advertising. for instance in the building game, if I was looking for more domestic work I would start with my local building inspector, and try and find out who needs a "better" engineer. If it is industrial, I would start with some fabricators. Who do people look to for help in finding a good engineer in your main game?   


RE: Drumming up more work

I think you hit the nail on the head when you say the jobs I actually want to do are few and far between.

When there is not much work around you tend to find more companies are chasing that work, a double whammy.

Trying to find new work and customers is usually a numbers game the more time and effort you put in the greater the possibility of it working. Of course how you spend that time and possibly money will have an impact but nothing is guaranteed.

One possibility might be to broaden the type of work you actually "want to" do, or even look at real niche markets and try and get in early. I must say I am surprised energy affiance is not a boom sector, it certainly seems so in the UK and is one area where you can possibly get government grants.

RE: Drumming up more work

I had to learn to hustle after getting laid off just before the 9-11 Event.  I tried some advertising, & Yellow Pages, nothing was effective.  I was constantly re-inventing my marketing approach, constantly trying something, anything, new that may bring in some work.

The most effective plan for me finally resolved itself into this:
  • Created a tiered pricing structure so that I could capture some of the lower dollar/hour tasks, essentially chasing the engineer-doing-designer work angle.  That provided cash flow and the added benefit of getting my name/reputation out there.
  • Attended every networking event I could dream up.  I worked to establish collaboration & partnerships with other freelancers and equipment companies.
  • Boosted my website to be my "online brochure".
  • Discovered that a $7 face-to-face lunch, where I could tell my story about my honest efforts to make a living & support my family, was much more effective than almost anything else.
After about 18-24 months, all the networking and prep work started to really pay off.

Blue Technik LLC
Virtuoso Robotics Engineering

RE: Drumming up more work

Basically word of mouth as suggested by tygerdawg.

A good website, lots of networking, lots of cold calling, completing a few good jobs on time and under budget.  Did some "freebies" for churches, private schools, non-profits, etc.  Just made sure my name got out there.  There are some high money people involved in those projects - they make the contributions!!!
It will come.  Good Luck!!

RE: Drumming up more work

I've had success with targeted ads in Craigslist.  I've been able to bill out at full rate, too.  But I'd say half the calls that come in from that ad never amount to anything (they check your price and move on).

But by far the biggest generator of work is networking.  I'm working 6 days a week now, and this week I find out about a big contract that's supposed to carry me through to next April with 30-40 hours of work per week, week in week out.  That lead sprung from a conversation 2 years ago, and I've been cultivating it and keeping on top of it ever since.  And it's a recurring gig, every winter.

My web site hasn't generated much, and while I paid zero attention to SEO for the last 5 years, I've managed to stay busy.  I'm just starting to hone that this week.

RE: Drumming up more work

If I can ask, what kind of business have you gotten from Craig's List?  When I was in the Yellow Pages every single call I got from that source was someone looking for a structural engineer for cheep.  Never did have anyone call me to do mechanical kind of work.


RE: Drumming up more work

I have been trying to put my business cards at different City Hall/Planning Department boards that I visit lately.  I just got a call yesterday from someone who got my card from one of these.  We have had a steady calling of people that found us through the website, but it never seems to go further than writing a proposal.

Lately a lot of our work has been through referrals of a client that we came up with a good alternative to their project design.  And that sort of helps the networking.  Otherwise I am still stuck on the problem of the OP.  Especially when other Civils are working for less than minimum wage lately.

B+W Engineering and Design
Los Angeles Civil and Structural Engineering

RE: Drumming up more work

I do due diligence stuff, like forensic inspections, structural assessments, reserve studies, etc, plus I got involved in water treatment.  CL brings in a few inspections here and there.

I just got an e-mail this morning that will force me to start saying no to some things for the next couple months.  That came from some networking.  Haven't been this busy in 5 years.  Also, Hurricane Irene brought in a bunch of work through regular accounts.      

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