Engineering Consulting Business Plan

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Market Analysis Summary

StructureAll Ltd. will focus on traditional Architect/Engineering (A/E) contracts. The owner will usually contract the A/E to perform planning and design services. These design services include preparation of plans, specifications, and estimates.

Construction services may be limited to occasional field visits and certain contract administration requirements. Typically, these types of projects distribute total design fees amongst the professionals involved in accordance with the following guideline:

  • Architecture Design (65%).
  • Structural Design (10%).
  • Mechanical Design (15%).
  • Electrical Design (10%).

Our most important clients will be established architectural/engineering firms who require structural engineering services.

4.1 Market Segmentation

The market for engineering services may be summarized with the following groups:

  1. Established Architectural and Engineering firms: Typically, the structural portions of any building project involve a Prime Consultant who pre-selects their team members and promotes their strengths in a proposal call to prospective clients. Our strategy is to offer these established firms a viable resource from which to draw upon. We can undertake the entire structural engineering process or provide assistance to their own in-house staff.
  2. Territorial and Federal Governmental Departments: The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) and the newly created Nunavut Territory retain consultants for a variety of purposes. We intend to position ourselves as a local firm offering expertise in consulting, project management, forensic, and restoration engineering. The Federal Government also retains consultants for similar purposes.
  3. Law Firms: We will market our services to the legal community to provide dispute resolution services, including arbitration, mediation and expert reports for litigation. This work is supported by forensic engineering services to identify the cause of failures.
  4. Contractors: We will offer design/build services to contractors for the multitude of potential projects which the Territorial Government and Nunavut Territory have recently undertaken. Contractors occasionally require structural engineers to submit sealed alternatives for equivalents to construction details.
  5. Municipal Governments: Remote Municipal Governments in the Territories can expect to have more autonomy with respect to infrastructure growth and development in the years to come. This initiative is part of the GNWT mandate. We will promote our services to the local municipal governments for this purpose. To attract this market potential, we will offer to train those students in each community who are interested in engineering as a career choice. On the local front, the City of Yellowknife often provides recommendations to builders and homeowners for structural engineering services related to renovations, additions, and new construction.
  6. Private Individuals: We will focus attention on homeowners in Yellowknife who are renovating or contemplating an addition to their residence. We will also promote home inspections to those parties contemplating the purchase of a home.
  7. Realtors: In conjunction with home inspections, we will make all the Realtors aware of this service.

The Potential Market Chart and the Market Analysis Table are based on percentages which each of these groups could contribute to the services offered. This manner of describing the potential market is more appropriate for this type of business. As can be seen, the Established Architectural/Engineering firms account for 65% of the potential market with the other participants claiming the balance in smaller proportions.

Market Analysis
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5
Potential Customers Growth CAGR
Architectural/Engineering Firms 0% 65 65 65 65 65 0.00%
Territorial/Federal Governments 0% 10 10 10 10 10 0.00%
Law Firms 0% 5 5 5 5 5 0.00%
Constractors 0% 5 5 5 5 5 0.00%
Municipal Governments 0% 5 5 5 5 5 0.00%
Private individuals 0% 5 5 5 5 5 0.00%
Realtors 0% 5 5 5 5 5 0.00%
Total 0.00% 100 100 100 100 100 0.00%

4.2 Service Business Analysis

The following sections describe in more detail these aspects of the service business environment:

  • Business Participants.
  • Competition and Buying Patterns.
  • Main Competitors.

4.2.1 Business Participants

The majority of consulting services cater to the needs of the Territorial Governments. The Territorial Governments operate on a budget of approximately $1,170 million per year, based on the 1998/1999 Main Estimates. Of this total, approximately $1,028 million is spent on Operating and Maintenance Expenditures while $142 million is allocated to Capital Expenditures.

Within the Capital Expenditures, Buildings and Works is a sub-category. This is the area of the annual operating budget from which all building design consultants must draw upon. Our analysis of the 1998/1999 Main Estimates indicates a total expenditure of $59,339,000. A typical A/E contract derives fee estimates from total budgets. For this analysis, we will apply 9% as a guideline for design fees. This yields a figure of about $5,340,000 in design fees available for distribution to the consulting industry.

The major clients within the Territorial Governments include:

  • Department of Education.
  • Department of Transportation.
  • Department of Municipal and Community Affairs.

Our competition matrix indicates a total of 102 persons within the consulting field in the Territories. This total has been subdivided into the types of positions these people hold. Based on reasonable estimates of salary expectations including 30% burdens for administration yields a value of about $7,800,000. This figure represents an estimate of the revenues required to sustain engineering consultants in the Territories.

From this evaluation, the Territorial Governments account for close to 70% of design fees while other participants in the building marketplace account for the balance. The Territorial Governments retain consultants for the following types of buildings:

  • Schools.
  • Health Centres.
  • Community Halls.
  • Arenas.
  • Warehouses.
  • Firehalls.

These types of buildings are constructed on a rotating basis across several communities in the NT. In addition to new construction, rehabilitation, renovations, and additions are also in demand.

Typically, the Territorial Governments issue a proposal call to consultants to service these needs. StructureAll will position itself as a Structural Sub-Consultant or resource to the Prime Consultant.

StructureAll Ltd. will also promote its services as structural specialists and project managers to the Territorial Governments.

4.2.2 Competition and Buying Patterns

Pricing of projects and billing rates are surprisingly variable. In consulting at this level, it is easier to be priced too low than too high. Clients and potential clients expect to pay substantial fees for the best quality professional advice. The nature of the billing, however, is sensitive. Clients are much more likely to be offended when a job starts at $20K and ends up at $30K because of overruns, than if the same job started at $30K or even $35K.

Clients rarely compare consultants directly, looking for two, or more, possible providers of a proposed project or job. Usually they follow word-of-mouth recommendations and either go for the job or not, rather than selecting from a menu of possible providers.

The most important element of general competition, by far, is what it takes to keep clients for repeat business. It is worth making huge concessions in any single project to maintain a client relationship that brings the client back for future projects.

4.2.3 Main Competitors

  1. Ferguson Simek Clark (FSC Group): This well established architectural and multi-discipline engineering firm would be our main competitor. This firm has branch offices in Iqaluit, NT and Whitehorse, YT besides a head office located in Yellowknife, NT. Their principal strength is undertaking a project from inception through to completion under one roof. Their weakness stems from an understaffed structural engineering group. At present, there is only one structural engineer who services the needs of all their in-house architects and outside clients. The drafting aspects of any project rely upon recollection and modification of past projects typically. There is no systematic manner in which standard block libraries are maintained or updated. They underutilize the programs at their disposal for structural analysis and design.
  2. A.D. Williams Engineering Ltd. (ADWEL): This multi-discipline engineering firm is well established in Yellowknife. Their head office is located in Edmonton, Alberta. They can draw on additional resources from the core group as required to meet the demands of project schedules. At present, there is no resident structural engineer on staff in Yellowknife.
  3. Girvan and Associates: This is a small one person architectural and engineering firm which specializes in providing services for residential construction projects. Ian Girvan services the private sector mostly. It is our hope that we can form a strategic alliance to carry out consulting work jointly as needs and occasions arise.