Architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) revenue generation has traditionally been viewed as somewhat organized but is tracked through a firm-specific approach. There’s a good bit of “let’s try this and see if it works.” In reality, revenue generation is highly structured and systematic. It’s an engine converting resources into revenue and driving the future of your firm. It has multiple moving, integrated parts, and if one of them isn’t working to its full potential, the others aren’t either.

To build the revenue generating engine into one that consistently pulls in the desired volume, firms should look at three specific building blocks.

#1: Defined Structure

The big revenue focus seems to fall on proposals and project interviews. But revenue is derived from multiple sources. Instead, pay attention to all of your revenue generation drivers: marketing, business development and client relations.

Many CEOS believe that marketing doesn’t really affect the bottom line. Yet it can do so. A best-in-class marketing program:

  • Sets your firm in the right direction on which markets to pursue.
  • Uses an integrated communications approach to reach targeted audiences.
  • Nurtures longer-term clients, enabling business development to focus on the hottest immediate prospects.
  • Adds to the quantity of incoming leads.
  • Monitors marketing performance and implements improvements based on data.

Business development is the most expensive component of revenue generation and has the most uncontrollable variables. Make sure you have a best-in-class BD program that:

  • Builds long-term, quality relationships; identifies short-, mid-, and long-term opportunities and generates qualified leads.
  • Develops capture plans and targeted campaigns.
  • Produces winning proposals and interviews.
  • Trains staff in best BD practices.
  • Tracks performance and recommends improvements based on data.

Firms tout repeat-business statistics but seldom put forth resources to retain those clients. Pull revenue from your existing client base with a client-relations program that:

  • Provides a specific onboarding process for clients, with touchpoints throughout.
  • Includes client surveys and post-project relationship strategies.
  • Has a specific service-recovery process for when a project starts to go south.
  • Is highly personable and reaches the human side of the client, not just the technical aspects.
  • Tracks performance and implements improvements based on data.

#2: Proven, Repeatable Processes

Using predictable, repeatable processes takes preferences and guesses out of the picture. It also means creating processes that others can learn and follow.

Why do companies and professions set up these processes? Proven, repeatable processes increase the predictability of outcomes, including revenue outcomes.

It may be time to put some standard processes in place for your marketing, business development and client relations so everyone understands how they work.

#3: Ongoing Measurement

Golfers, professional athletes and Fortune 500 companies all measure what they’re doing to improve. But they all measure performance in progress rather than by a single, final metric. So why not AEC firms?

Most firms measure their win rate; however, it’s also possible (and valuable) to evaluate at multiple points throughout the process to ensure that you can make necessary adjustments. Consider the following metrics:

  • Determine the number of quality accounts you need to pursue to hit target revenue.
  • Evaluate the leads generated from multiple sources. Which ones are the best?
  • Establish a short-list rate to gauge the quality of your proposals and pre-proposal strategies.
  • Set an optimal project size and type that fits your operational capabilities.