News

ASLA Business Survey: Landscape Architectural Firms Gained Ground in 2014

4Q dips reported for billable hours and inquiries for new work; plans to hire rise

2015-02-09

Many landscape architectural firms viewed 2014 as an improvement from the previous year, but they still reported quarterly dips in billable hours and inquiries for new work in the fourth quarter, according to the American Society of Landscape Architect’s (ASLA) latest Business Quarterly survey. Plans to hire rose from the previous quarter.

The survey found that 74.67 percent reported stable to significantly higher billable hours, a notable decrease from 84.17 percent the previous quarter. Some 76.75 percent said inquiries for new work were stable to significantly higher, another decline from 83.89 in the third quarter.

Year to year, 80.17 percent of firms indicated stable to significantly higher fourth-quarter billable hours, a slight dip from the fourth quarter of 2013 (81.5 percent). Additionally, 84.64 percent said inquiries for new work were stable to significantly higher, a jump from the fourth quarter of 2013 (81.5 percent).

Across the board, most firms (87.51 percent) described business conditions for 2014 as stable to significantly better than the previous year. Fully 71.88 percent said that 2014 was slightly to significantly better.

Of all firms with two or more employees, 50.63 percent said they planned to hire in the first quarter of 2015, a rise from the third quarter (48.06 percent). Some 57.90 percent of firms with 10-49 employees will be hiring landscape architects, both experienced and entry-level.

The survey included questions related to international work. Fully 10.96 of all respondents said that international billings are an important segment of their firms’ business. Additionally, 19.30 percent said that their firm worked on international projects in the last three years, and 16.67 percent said their firm had international work in 2014.

Types of projects in 2014 included commercial (71.79 percent), public (51.28 percent) and residential (35.90 percent). The top regions included Asia (51.28 percent), Latin America (38.46 percent), Middle East (33.33 percent) and North America (33.33 percent).

The majority of firms (73.33 percent) that did not pursue international projects in 2014 said they were not interested in pursuing this work. Others said they are actively pursuing international projects (5.13 percent) or considering international work (21.54 percent).

Key Survey Highlights:

Compared to the third quarter 2014, your fourth quarter 2014 billable hours were:
Significantly higher (more than 10%) – 10.67%
Slightly higher (5 to 10% higher) – 30.22%
About the same (plus or minus 5%) – 33.78%
Slightly lower (5 to 10% lower) – 16.00%
Significantly lower (more than 10%) – 9.33%

Compared to the third quarter 2014, your fourth quarter 2014 inquiries for new work were:
Significantly higher (more than 10%) – 10.96%
Slightly higher (5 to 10% higher) – 34.21%
About the same (plus or minus 5%) – 31.58%
Slightly lower (5 to 10% lower) – 15.35%
Significantly lower (more than 10%) – 7.89%

Year to year, compared to the fourth quarter in 2013, your fourth quarter 2014 billable hours were:
Significantly higher (more than 10%) – 29.07%
Slightly higher (5 to 10% higher) – 35.24%
About the same (plus or minus 5%) – 15.86%
Slightly lower (5 to 10% lower) – 12.33%
Significantly lower (more than 10%) – 7.49%

Year to year, compared to the fourth quarter in 2013, your fourth quarter 2014 inquiries for new work were:
Significantly higher (more than 10%) – 24.56%
Slightly higher (5 to 10% higher) – 32.89%
About the same (plus or minus 5%) – 27.19%
Slightly lower (5 to 10% lower) – 9.21%
Significantly lower (more than 10%) – 6.14%

How would you describe business results for 2014 compared to 2013?
Significantly better than 2013 (up more than 10%) – 36.61%
Slightly better than 2013 (up 5% to 10%) – 35.27%
About the same as 2013 (plus or minus 5% or less) – 15.63%
Slightly worse than 2013 (down between 5% and 10%) – 7.59%
Significantly worse than 2013 (down more than 10%) – 4.91%

Do you plan on hiring any employees in the first quarter of 2015 (multiple answers)?
Yes, we’ll be hiring an experienced landscape architect – 11.41%
Yes, we’ll be hiring an entry-level landscape architect – 16.30%
Yes, we’ll be hiring an intern – 10.33%
Yes, we’ll be hiring support staff – 4.89%
Yes, we’ll be hiring other design/architecture/engineering staff – 10.33%
Yes, we’ll be hiring other staff – 8.15%
No, we’re not currently hiring – 55.43%

International billings are an important segment of my firm’s business.
Yes – 10.96%
No – 88.16%
Don’t know – 0.88%

Did your firm work on any international projects in the last three years?
Yes – 19.30%
No – 80.26%
Don’t know – 0.44%

In 2014 did your firm have any international work?
Yes – 16.67%
No – 82.46%
Don’t know – 0.88%

If so, what type (multiple answers):
Residential – 35.90%
Commercial – 71.79%
Public – 51.28%

Indicate the regions where your firm’s projects are located (multiple answers):
Asia – 51.28%
Africa – 15.38%
Australia and Oceania – 12.82%
Europe – 20.51%
Latin America – 38.46%
Middle East – 33.33%
North America – 33.33%

For firms that did not pursue international projects in 2014, indicate which of the following is true:
My firm is actively pursuing international projects – 5.13%
My firm is considering international work – 21.54%
My firm is not interested in pursuing international work – 73.33%

About the Survey
The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Business Quarterly survey asks quarterly benchmarks on key statistics including billable hours, inquiries and hiring plans. The survey is not intended to be statistically significant but instead provides a snapshot of the landscape architecture industry. The Q4 2014 national survey was fielded January 21 to February 4, 2015, with 229 primary firm contacts responding.

 

 

Contact

Karen T. Grajales
Manager, Public Relations 
tel: 1-202-216-2371
ktgrajales@asla.org
@ktgrajales

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