A private practice, whether it be a legal, medical, or engineering, is a business.  It’s a big mistake to assume that just because you are a professional, business will automatically come to you.  It’s nice when that happens but, the reality is that you have to work at attracting clients.  That means that you have to know what your potential clients need and then filling that need.  Changes come when anything that affects economic activity causes business to increase or decrease.  When business changes, adjustments sometimes have to be made in personnel, methods, management, and product.  This list is by no means all-inclusive.  Marketing is one of the most important functions in any business.  As business fluctuates, sometimes adjustments have to be made in marketing strategy.  Where direct mail campaigns were once enough to stimulate orders, direct contact with clients might now be necessary to bring in those orders.  However, marketing a professional practice is a little different.  The product is a service.  When I first started, marketing to potential clients consisted of making phone calls and direct mailings.  As business increased and time became more precious, the marketing strategy changed to a quarterly newsletter  that was mailed (not emailed) to clients.  That strategy worked for several years.  From client feedback, the strategy worked because the time interval between mailings seemed to be very acceptable to the majority of the recipients.  As a result, the name of the business was kept in front of the client and at the same time, the client was learning of news that potentially affected the client.

P.E.s, Diplomates and Fellows

Not many people know what the letters P.E. stand for when associated with the practice of engineering.  No, they have nothing to do with physical education. The letters stand for “Professional Engineer”. The letters are placed after an individual’s name and are an indication that the individual has been examined and found competent to practice in their respective engineering discipline.   The letters are a legal designation much like MD is for doctors.  It is illegal for anyone to advertise themself as an engineer without having fulfilled the experience, reference,  and examination requirements.  Specific requirements are established by each state board but are generally the same across the  country. Diplomate and Fellow, on the other hand, are titles that are bestowed by engineering organizations on individuals that have made exceptional contributions in their field. These titles are honorary in nature and do not entitle the recipient to engage in private practice.  While these titles are a tremendous honor for the recipient, they are not a measure of an individual’s competence. You would think that the bestowing of such an honor would take into account competence, and for the most part, someone who is honored is seen as competent in their field. But, state registration laws for engineers do not consider titles in the process of evaluating one’s competence.  Lastly, no matter how many titles an individual has after their name, unless the letters P.E. are included, that individual has no right to advertise him or herself as an engineer. If  in doubt about someone’s legitimacy, contact your state board that governs the practice of architecture and engineering. If that board has no record of the individual in question, then, that person is most likely practicing illegally.

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