Work Smarter, Not Harder
FRED: As you may know, Qfactor™ for Surveyors harnesses the power of popular software programs that most small businesses use on regular basis, including QuickBooks, Time Sheets and Google Maps. As we began demonstrating Qfactor™ software to surveying companies (including many smaller firms), we were surprised to learn that a lot of these small businesses didn’t really know how to use QuickBooks and TimeSheets effectively, which was creating bottlenecks for information flow and effective project management. We discovered that some older “mom and pop” shops were somewhat averse to (or even fearful of) learning software. By training a number of these small shops to set up and learn the best basic practices of using QuickBooks and TimeSheets, we more easily moved them into using Qfactor™ to streamline and automate their projects. This has freed up time for employees to do the jobs they were trained for (not necessarily bookkeeping or data entry) and allowed some spouses to refocus on projects and activities they truly enjoy (rather than keeping the company books).
It was clear to me that harnessing the computer familiarity (and software learning comfort) of GenZ could be a boon to the future of the surveying industry.
HEATHER: As a college student who also grew up in a land surveying family, it’s clear that high school and college students have only a vague sense of the opportunities a career in surveying affords. It’s important that we go into high schools and colleges to talk about the industry and explain the many pathways to a rewarding career in surveying. Not everyone is suited to, nor interested in, field work, so we need to highlight the “inside” positions of the office including project management, business management, accounting and drafting-related and AutoCAD skills. A few surveying careers do require a four-year college degree, while others need two-year associate degrees, certificate training or even no formal college training at all. Discussing all these options and jobs is important to keeping a land survey company moving forward.
Googling, Posting and Branding
FRED: And of course, let’s not forget about the power of marketing and social media influence in building a brand for your surveying company.
HEATHER: Indeed! GenZ is all over social media: From creating and posting images and short videos on TikTok and Instagram, to harnessing the power of YouTube, LinkedIn and Facebook to help improve a brand’s image. These skills are and will be vital to helping get the word out on surveying businesses. The Baby Boomers who built and are running many of today’s surveying companies grew up using The Yellow Pages to find businesses and services. But who even has a copy of The Yellow Pages any more?! Today it’s all about searching Google for the business or service you need. Surveyors who embrace this reality will have an edge and this is a place where high school and college students can add massive value . . . even today as interns!
Mentoring Up and Mentoring Down
FRED: As I mentioned, much of the early days of BizWatt and Qfactor involved “mentoring up” — training people in the industry to accept and adapt to technology to help their businesses become more efficient and profitable. “Mentoring down” is seeing the need to reach students that may have little knowledge of the opportunities available to follow what they already enjoy into a career in surveying.
HEATHER: Exactly. I love talking with college students (my peers) and those in high school about all surveying has to offer them, and how they can bring their skills to help move our industry forward. For me, this also includes learning how we in the surveying industry need to adapt to the future workforce. My father, Trent Keenan, started a podcast he calls “Mentoring Mondays” wherein he talks to land surveying industry leaders about their experiences and also people who are bringing new ideas and practices to the profession – including Fred and Qfactor. It’s clear that we’re in a period of passing on the institutional knowledge of the Baby Boomers who will soon be retiring from surveying. It’s time to soak up their experience! I appreciate the opportunity I have with BizWatt and Qfactor to not only help “Mentor Up” with training and onboarding, but also continuing to “Mentor Down” and plant the seeds for tomorrow’s industry employees and leaders.
FRED: I’ve recently begun speaking to high schools in Santa Barbara County, California (where I grew up and still reside) about my career story and the many different paths open to them – not only in surveying, but also software development, marketing and entrepreneurship. My mentors helped shape me along the way and now it’s my time to step up and give some time back.