If you’ve ever flown through Chicago this time of year, you probably know what it’s like to sleep on the hard-carpeted floor of an airport. It’s almost like clockwork. You get to O’Hare, you have your first beer of the afternoon, and kaboom — your flight gets delayed! Here at Zweig Group, we want to outperform O’Hare in customer service with no overnight layovers, so to speak. We want to be the best resource available for your AE firm from the time you give us a call to the time we help you establish a five-year growth or transition plan.

This year, the Zweig Group Research Team has seen lots of data flow through our system. Much like O’Hare, we experience high-volume periods where the veritable data pipelines open up. In 2017, we published 16 reports ranging from financial performance to compensation structures to marketing all the way to how an AE firm should be valued. Most of our contributing firms are mid-sized engineering firms that are going through a variety of growth phases or planning sessions and are looking to find industry data that can help them improve their business. I feel confident we have helped many firms achieve this goal.

When we provide consulting services, firm leaders are always interested in the information we provide and how they can use the data to inform their decision-making process. The metrics are meaningful. Our research provides baseline values for leaders in the AE industry to make critical business decisions. Often, firms fail to prepare the next generation of leaders for this phase of their development. Many new and even old leaders operate critical business functions and make lasting decisions in the dark. With little to no business management training, their experience is bound to the technical side of the business and not grounded in finance or operational management.

To be an effective leader, you can’t just be the best engineer in the room. You have to relate to your people and understand how your assets can be used to positively impact the work environment. This is something we preach here at Zweig Group. With a solid understanding of the financial components of your business, you can enhance the cultural components of your business.

Our Hot Firm and Best Firm awards are celebrated each year in September. The event brings together hundreds of the nation’s top-performing AE firms and provides educational opportunities for both leaders and young professionals. Many of the discussions focus on growth plans, improving operational efficiencies, and refining cultural components that make a firm attractive to current and prospective employees. Many of these firms are our best clients and their success is a testament to our success, a fact of which we are proud.

So, as we close out 2017 and head into 2018, remember to treat your team and fellow employees well. Use Zweig Group data, the industry standard, to improve your benefits in the coming year, and let us help you be a beacon for those in your firm who want to set and attain goals. In a time when talent is hard to find and mergers and acquisitions are peaking, information is more important than ever.

Will Swearingen is director of Research. He can be contacted at research@zweiggroup.com.