News
Survey Finds Solid Economic Ground for Landscape Architecture Firms
Billable hours, hiring, and inquiries for new work all jump.
2015-05-05

Business is booming for landscape architecture firms. According to the latest American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Business Quarterly survey, firm leaders reported significantly higher levels of billable hours, hiring and inquiries for new work during the first quarter of 2015—suggesting an industry-wide spring thaw has arrived.

According to the survey, the majority of firms (82.02 percent) reported stable to significantly higher billable hours during the first quarter, a jump from the 74.67 percent from the previous quarter. Similarly, 85.34 percent reported stable to significantly higher inquiries for new work, a notable rise from 76.75 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Year to year, 80.52 percent of firms reported that billable hours were stable to significantly higher, a number virtually unchanged from the first quarter of 2014 (80.17 percent). Additionally, inquiries for new work (83.24 percent) dipped slightly from the first quarter of 2014 (84.64 percent).

The optimism felt by firms seems to be translating into future jobs, according to the survey. Of firms with two or more employees, 61.54 percent said they planned to hire during the second quarter of 2015, a notable rise from the previous quarter (50.63 percent). Some 55.26 percent of firms with 5-9 employees will be hiring landscape architects, both experienced and entry-level.

“Firms have good reason to be upbeat about their economic prospects,” said Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA, executive vice president and CEO of ASLA. “Many are reporting more opportunities for projects as well as strong expectations to hire. We’re confident that these conditions will persist throughout the year.”

The survey also revisited questions from a third quarter 2010 Business Quarterly survey about why clients choose sustainable design techniques. The top reasons remained virtually unchanged. They include meeting government requirements (54.79 percent), saving money on utility or maintenance costs (40.96 percent), reducing environmental harm (39.36 percent) and adding marketing cachet (31.91 percent). In the 2010 survey, the top reasons were listed as meeting government requirements (50.4 percent), saving money on utility or maintenance costs (43.1 percent), adding marketing cachet (38.7 percent) and reducing environmental harm (38.1 percent).

Key Survey Highlights:

Compared to the fourth quarter 2014, your first quarter 2015 billable hours were:
Significantly higher (more than 10%) – 19.58%
Slightly higher (5 to 10% higher) – 30.16%
About the same (plus or minus 5%) – 32.28%
Slightly lower (5 to 10% lower) – 13.23%
Significantly lower (more than 10%) – 4.76%

Compared to the fourth quarter 2014, your first quarter 2015 inquiries for new work were:
Significantly higher (more than 10%) – 26.18%
Slightly higher (5 to 10% higher) – 38.74%
About the same (plus or minus 5%) – 20.42%
Slightly lower (5 to 10% lower) – 9.42%
Significantly lower (more than 10%) – 5.24%

Year to year, compared to the first quarter in 2014, your first quarter 2015 billable hours were:
Significantly higher (more than 10%) – 24.21%
Slightly higher (5 to 10% higher) – 31.05%
About the same (plus or minus 5%) – 25.26%
Slightly lower (5 to 10% lower) – 11.58%
Significantly lower (more than 10%) – 7.89%

Year to year, compared to the first quarter in 2014, your first quarter 2015 inquiries for new work were:
Significantly higher (more than 10%) – 23.04%
Slightly higher (5 to 10% higher) – 34.55%
About the same (plus or minus 5%) – 25.65%
Slightly lower (5 to 10% lower) – 9.95%
Significantly lower (more than 10%) – 6.81%

Do you plan on hiring any employees in the second quarter of 2015 (multiple answers)?
Yes, we’ll be hiring an experienced landscape architect – 12.02%
Yes, we’ll be hiring an entry-level landscape architect – 21.86%
Yes, we’ll be hiring an intern – 19.67%
Yes, we’ll be hiring support staff – 5.46%
Yes, we’ll be hiring other design/architecture/engineering staff – 12.57%
Yes, we’ll be hiring other staff – 9.84%
No, we’re not currently hiring – 49.73%

Rate client knowledge of sustainable design practices:
Very knowledgeable – 15.79%
Somewhat knowledgeable – 48.95%
Not very knowledgeable, but interested – 32.63%
Neither knowledgeable nor interested – 2.63%

Reasons clients request sustainable design techniques (multiple answers):
To be eligible for a government incentive, such as a tax break or faster approval – 25.0%
To reduce environmental harm – 39.36%
To save money on utility or maintenance costs – 40.96%
To meet requirements by government regulation, code or construction standard – 54.79%
To lower upkeep time and effort – 30.32%
To add marketing cachet – 31.91%
Clients are not requesting sustainable design – 15.43%
Other – 6.38%

Does your firm highlight sustainable design in marketing or new business outreach?
My firm makes sustainability a central part of most or all marketing and new business, regardless of whether or not it is required – 42.93%
My firm always uses sustainability when potential new business requires it, but only sometimes when it is not a central part of new business requirements – 32.07%
My firm only uses sustainability when it is required for potential new business – 10.33%
Sustainable design is not a significant factor in my marketing and new business outreach – 14.67%

Using sustainability in my marketing and new business provides a competitive advantage to my firm:
Most or all of the time – 14.89%
Some of the time – 48.40%
Rarely or never – 19.15%
Not a significant factor in my marketing and new business outreach – 17.55%

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 Q1 2015 national survey was fielded April 17 to April 30, 2015, with 191 primary firm contacts responding.

About ASLA
Founded in 1899, the American Society of Landscape Architects is the national professional association for landscape architects, representing more than 15,000 members in 49 professional chapters and 72 student chapters. Members of the Society use "ASLA" after their names to denote membership and their commitment to the highest ethical standards of the profession. Landscape architects lead the stewardship, planning, and design of our built and natural environments; the Society’s mission is to advance landscape architecture through advocacy, communication, education, and fellowship.

 

 



contact

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

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