Wednesday, 21 May 2014

15 Not Out

T1300 - Robust & reliable
Well Almost 15 Years not out!

28th June 1999 - my first day as a qualified Land Surveyor.  I was sent up to the Three Rivers Project in Staines with a Principle Surveyor and Assistant to learn the ropes, with all the kit crammed into an old Toyota Corolla plus the three of us we were off travelling round the M25 in the hammering rain, with the traffic getting heavier, and the rain unrelenting.  We never did get to site!

Cutting Edge at the time
29th June 1999 - my second day as a qualified Land Surveyor, back to Staines with some success this time, although the rain was still hammering down all day.  Spirits undampened I took to the role of setting up the instrument and logging the observations, recording the point code in my yellow book, head down hard at work.  I think we achieved the grand total of about 200 points all day which was probably not helped by me kicking the tripod at least twice and having to re-set up!

Fifteen years is less than half my life (yes you'll be shocked to hear I am over 30), but a lot has changed in that time.  During my first years of surveying we only got a mobile phone if we were above a certain level of seniority, the Internet was very much in its infancy and certainly not a constant distraction at work. Instruments needed an Assistant to work, we couldn't log data very quickly, and the data we did log was just a mass of numbers with very limited ability to add information about the point.  Then once back in the office downloading took long enough to boil the kettle, make the tea and drink it!  We didn't have the wonders of colourful graphics (unless you count the black & blue of dos!).  It was a DOS based processing system comprising of typed commands to get the data into a workable format.  Even at this point we didn't know if the survey was going to work, or if you'd have half the road survey pointing the wrong way because you typed in your opening bearing wrong!

TS Series - All gizmos & gadgets
 Fast forward 15 years, and look where we are now, mobile phones are an essential (albeit annoying) part of every day life - we long for the day our site is down in valley away from mobile phone signal.
 The age of the Survey Assistant is fast dying as instruments are increasingly robotic for one man operation.  Instead of the 200 points in a day, we can now easily top 1500 points in full colour with a mass of information associated with every point, and a plan of the site as you go so you know the survey works before you even reach the office.  Transfer of data from the instrument takes seconds, and within minutes you can have a drawing of the site in front of you which is ready to be tidied and sent to the client!  But then why mess about on site coding points when you can laser scan and get the information in a 3D model of a building in seconds, and it is not just buildings the development of airborne UAV's and drones means you can scan the ground equally as quickly without even leaving the office!
UAV Drone for Aerial Scanning

Was it better 15 years ago, or will it be better in 15 years time......................

Check back in 15 years I might be able to pass comment.  Right now I'm off to watch Back to the Future see if I can work out how that capacitor works, and get the answers sooner!

Please stay in touch with R L Surveys though the wonders of social media at Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  Alternatively we are always at the end of the phone line on 01233 800109.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Customer Service or Customer Interference?

How is your Customer Service?

Over the years people have many causes for complaint, and thanks, for customer service.  Generally I find myself feeling sorry for the front line staff on the telephone taking the brunt of peoples frustrations with little thanks.  Of course a lot of that might be down to the 100's of questions (I may be exaggerating) you have to answer on your touch tone phone before actually speaking to someone!

In recent dealings with a reputable organisation the staff I speak to are friendly and helpful; but completely at the mercy of the industry or company they work within.  They try to help but the system set up does not allow them the freedom to help unless the computer lets them, for example.....

  1. An on line bank call me, on my own phone but can't tell me anything because I fail the second security question.  Does anyone know sort codes and credit limits off the top of their heads whilst doing the weekly shop?  The call was only to check some unusual activity on the account (and no not that i was spending on it!).  I know the transactions and amounts but they wouldn't accept this as proof it was me.......result card blocked, so much for the shop I was half way through.  Sorry to the big supermarket with an orange colouration for the full but abandoned shopping trolley!
  2. A large professional body who charge for every step of progression.  However I discover a route open to me which was never mentioned, so I progress along the route then complain about the fees retrospectively.  After getting agreement that a refund was due which took a month, I spent the next month chasing the refund. Turn the tables on that one, if my fees were late I'd be facing late fees, interest, expulsion?  You might want to read an earlier blog on that subject before I divert off on a tangent.

Our Customer Service.......

First rate but I suspect you will all think I am somewhat biased in this area.  It might be the size of the organisation but at R L Surveys we pride ourselves on a fast efficient personal service.  All calls returned within three hours, all quotes responded to within 24 hours (if not quoted), and a general job turn around of 1-2 weeks (unless there is a sudden up turn in the economic climate as we are currently seeing).  This service is something we feel all companies should aspire to, and as a result we have won jobs without being the lowest tenderer.

Courtesy costs nothing, but happy clients are priceless (thank you MasterCard an excellent tag line!)

No doubt there are areas we could improve, and part of the ISO9001:2008 accreditation involves looking at these processes and highlighting areas for improvement.  The problem now is that these processes have been set up by the staff assessing them, so are obviously practically perfect in every way!  Change and improvements occur most rapidly when there are reasons to change.  Whilst I am all for the 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' philosophy, within business if it's not being fixed your competitors are moving ahead of you.

As usual you can follow our progress through Facebook & Twitter, or with a growing number of people on Linkedin.  But as always best place to find us is at

Monday, 6 January 2014

Land Surveyor Toys - a Must Have

Here we are.


Its the first Monday back at work after the Christmas and New Year festivities.  Not that we really had a break.  That's one of the disadvantages of running your own business - you never really stop.

There are still phone calls to take, although admittedly far less, emails to reply to and bills to pay.

Our children are now back at school, Mike is working in London on a Monitoring project and I am left to bring you the first intellectual business blog of the year.


Land Surveyors - you have your own toy!!!

C'mon - I bet there isn't one of you who doesn't want this right now!!

What I LOVE about this Playmobil set is that according to the description on Amazon:

Playmobil - Surveyor with equipment
The set consists of a Surveyor with all the equipment that he needs
3 Cones

Did you read that?  ALL the equipment he needs!!  I don't know why we have an office full of big red boxes with Laser Scanners, GPS equipment, poles and tripods, stakes and nails etc etc.

All you need for this profession is 1 surveyor, a tachometer and 3 - yes 3 - cones!  Brilliant.

So then I got to looking on good old Google for other Surveyor toys - of which are there are not many!

How about this Lego creation?

Picture from
Or a GI-Joe Surveyor?

Now what I want to see is Barbie Surveyor!  C'mon - one for the girls!

Happy New Year Everyone.  I hope 2014 is a good one.