April 18, 2021

Starting Your Own Land Surveying Business : Chapter 3

3 min read

This is a continuation of the Starting your Own Land Surveying Business series from the previous chapter 2.

Previously we have outlined the steps to starting your own firm and now we are moving on to the final stages of the process. Hopefully you get to follow along to ensure control and establishment of a legitimate business of your own as a surveyor.

STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses

Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.

State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a land surveyor business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your country or state by visiting any local government authority websites or offices.

For information about local licenses and permits:

  • Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
  • Get assistance from one of the professionals who have been in business for quite some time.

Certificate of Occupancy

Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO).  A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.

  • If you plan to lease a location:
    • It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
    • Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a land surveyor business.
    • After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
  • If you plan to purchase or build a location:
    • You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
    • Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your land surveyor business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.

Services Contract

Land surveying businesses should require clients to sign a services agreement before starting a new project. This agreement should clarify client expectations and minimize risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions, service level expectations, and intellectual property ownership.

STEP 7: Get Business Insurance

Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.

There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.

Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your country or state will require you to carry Workers’ Compensation Coverage.

STEP 8: Define your brand

Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.

How to promote & market a land surveying business

A good place to start looking for clients is by networking with local contractors and land developers. While some homeowners may look for land surveyor, and it is useful to have a website, acquiring larger clients usually means direct selling. Joining and being an active member of a national land surveying organization, like the Council of Land Surveyors, or a local association (Zimbabwe Institute of Geomatics or Survey Institute of Zimbabwe if you are in Zimbabwe) depending on your country of origin is a good way to locate opportunities in the industry. 

How to keep customers coming back

Providing stellar customer service and delivering on time, every time is the best way to make your clients happy and to develop a good name for your company. Remember that the surveying industry is small enough that people talk with each other. It is likely your business will quickly develop a reputation, so it is important to always do the best job possible. 

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