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Show clients the error of fee bidding


'Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness.

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.' This is how Mr Micawber summarised his business philosophy.

Your recent comment (NCE 17 January) regarding the ACE's desire to reintroduce fixed fees suggests that few in this organisation understand the basic need for companies to submit fee bids based on sound assessment of the work in value and profitability, not turnover.

Suggestions that 'the market' cannot sustain appropriate levels of fees for firms to pay decent wages and offer attractive conditions are simple falsehoods. With sound advice any self-respecting consultant should be able to save his or her fee by efficient design let alone the differential between the fee bids put forward on the project.

While many clients are price fixated rather than value orientated, it is up to each consultant to show them the error of their ways.

Partnering arrangements, whether formal or informal, fee competition tendering can deliver proper sustainable fee levels, if we as engineers stop selling our services too cheaply.

Keith Nicholls (M), For Geotechnics, the Geotechnical Centre, 203 Torrington Avenue, Tile Hill, Coventry CV4 9AP

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