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A/E Firm Business Practices Reflect Recent Downturn


WAYLAND, MA – Hard hit by the recent economic downturn in recent years, A/E firms are doing what they can to get work and keep their businesses  profitable, even if that means reducing billing rates, working without a signed contract, or not getting a retainer for a new project.

According to ZweigWhite’s 2010 Fee & Billing Survey, A/E firms report that on average they begin 33 percent of projects without a signed contract, and that they get a retainer up front for a project only 7 percent of the time.

“Ideally you want to command the highest fee possible and be reimbursed promptly for the work you’ve performed,” says Christine Brack, PMP, principal, ZweigWhite strategic advisory services, who provides an in-depth forward to the survey. “The last year-and-a- half unfortunately turned those ideals upside down and even encouraged some risky business practices.”

ZweigWhite’s Fee & Billing Survey of A/E/P and environmental consulting firms takes an in-depth look at the fee structures and billing practices of U.S. architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting firms. This report gives managers the information they need to see if their firm is charging enough or too much for their employees’ time, reimbursable expenses, equipment usage, and more. The report shows data broken down by firm size, type, region, growth rate, and client base enabling firms to make meaningful apples-to-apples comparisons. Fees for a number of services are shown for 12 different markets. Also compared by market are contract types, how firms determine the fee, and methods by which firms are awarded contracts.

An electronic report or printed book is available at

About ZweigWhite
ZweigWhite is one of the nation's leading sources of business management services for architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting firms. The ZweigWhite team consists of experts in strategic business planning, business valuation, ownership transition, human resources management, finance and administration, mergers and acquisitions, market research, marketing, project management and project delivery methods who collectively produce a comprehensive suite of products and services, including newsletters, industry reports, executive training, business conferences, and advisory services covering virtually every aspect of firm management. The firm is headquartered in Wayland, MA, with additional offices in Chicago and Washington, D.C.

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