5 Tips For Working as an Independent Solo Surveyor



I've now been working as an independent solo surveyor for a few years, and I can't imagine going back. In large part, this is  because of financial issues involving: hard economic realities, reduced overhead, greater efficiencies, and greater professional freedom.

What does Independent Solo Surveyor mean to you? For me, independent solo surveying involves using specific high-tech land surveying equipment (think robotic total stations and GPS), but more importantly, employing a range of tools and techniques to effectively and productively provide superior professional services.

Along the way, I've learned a few things about what works best working as an Independent Solo Surveyor.

In this Premium Membership post I'll share 5 Tips For Working as an Independent Solo Surveyor.

5 Tips For Working as an Independent Solo Surveyor

  1. Invest in the best equipment that you can afford. This seems like a no-brainer, but is one area that I see many professional land surveyors making mistakes. Whether you are purchasing a robotic total station, GPS units or a laser scanner, make sure that the equipment you are purchasing meets your needs, increases your productivity, and will make you money. This sometimes means paying a little more for better technology and systems.
  2. Implement your Independent Solo Surveyor technology at a maximum level. Obviously, the main advantage to using any equipment and technology that allows you to work with just one person is that you can either cut your payroll cost, or expand your field crews without needing to hire more workers. Yet, I have seen and heard from a number of land surveyors that routinely send out a field crew of two with their robotic total stations. This confuses me, because in doing that, they are just adding to their overhead while gaining very little productivity. Of course, there are times when having more than one person on a field crew makes sense for logistical and safety reasons, but in my experience this very rarely is necessary.
  3. Learn new techniques working as an Independent Solo Surveyor to capitalize on your equipment investment. Discovering the procedures that work best in terms of speed, efficiency, and accuracy will boost your productivity to new levels. There is no need to cut corners, even if the technology lends itself to do so, however strategically implementing techniques using independent solo surveying technologies is where business growth happens. You may learn there is a new or improved service that you can offer, or just find a better and faster method to getting your surveying work completed.
  4. Find good ancillary tools and equipment that help you to work as an independent solo surveyor. Working independently creates a whole slew of new logistical challenges. With my robotic total station, for instance, I've learned that having a great backpack that not only carries the robotic total station, but also has plenty of large pockets to carry prisms, small tools, etc., is critical to more easily transporting equipment. Another tool I use to help me work as an independent solo surveyor is the Leica Disto laser device, which is handy for measuring foundations, ceiling heights, offsets, etc.
  5. Bill what you are worth. I fear that some surveyors who invested in technologies that allow for reduced overhead will give those savings away, instead of saving those potential profits to invest in their businesses and themselves. Let's take investing in a robotic total station as an example. If you do some simple math, you'll discover that it does not take long for your investment in going solo with a robotic total station to pay itself back. This, unfortunately, is made possible by reducing your payroll. But, soon you will have paid off the robotic total station and may be tempted to reduce your fees proportionately.  Is this the right pricing strategy? In general, I think not. After making what I believe is one of the best business decisions a professional land surveyor can make, investing in independent solo surveyor technologies, don't miss the opportunity to reap the benefit of increased profits.

I would be very interested to hear what is working (or not) from other independent solo surveyors. Leave a comment or drop me a note if you have anything to share about working as an independent solo surveyor, or are thinking about

Eric D. Colburn, PLS, "The Geo-Business Innovator", helps geo-professionals improve through innovative solutions, mastery of marketing and business growth strategies, and coaching/training. Eric is a successful, serial entrepreneur, podcaster, industry writer, product development consultant, and RI licensed professional land surveyor.

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2 comments on “5 Tips For Working as an Independent Solo Surveyor
  1. I thought it was interesting that you suggest learning new techniques working as an independent solo surveyor to capitalize on your equipment investment. I would not have thought that using different techniques would help you do such a clean job in the future. This suggestion to learn could help you do better and become more successful in your business.

  2. John Ferrell says:

    I like the recommendation to invest in the best equipment you can afford. I think that if you are going to buy good equipment then you might want to look at reviews from other people. I think that it is important to know what you are investing in, too.

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