News

ASLA Business Survey Shows Stable Conditions for Landscape Architecture Firms

Billable hours hold steady, while inquiries for new work lag slightly; hiring plans fall.

2017-11-07

Landscape architecture firms experienced stable conditions for the third quarter of 2017, according to the latest American Society of Landscape Architects’ Business Quarterly survey. Billable hours held steady, although inquiries for new work dipped slightly. Plans to hire over the next quarter fell.

A five-year comparison of survey results shows that numbers for the third quarter are well within range.

The survey found 85.7 percent of responding firms reported stable to significantly higher billable hours for the third quarter, about the same as the 85.1 percent from the previous quarter. This result is better than what had been reported during the third quarter of 2016 (78.4 percent), but well within range of what had been reported for the third quarters of 2015 (83.4 percent), 2014 (84.2 percent), and 2013 (80.6 percent).

Some 82.1 percent indicated that inquiries for new work were stable to significantly higher during the third quarter of 2017, a slight dip from the previous quarter (83.1 percent). Past third quarters scored 80.3 percent for 2016, 81.6 percent for 2015, 83.9 percent for 2014, and 78.0 percent for 2013.

The survey found that year to year, some 84.2 percent of firms said that billable hours were stable to significantly higher—higher than what had been reported for the third quarters of 2016 (80.4 percent), 2015 (81.3 percent), 2014 (82.4 percent) and 2013 (80 percent).

Year to year, 85.6 percent said that third quarter inquiries for new work were stable to significantly higher, higher than what had been reported for the third quarters of 2016 (81.3 percent), 2015 (84.5 percent) and 2013 (84.7 percent). It is slightly below the 86.1 percent reported for the third quarter of 2014.

Fewer than half of responding firms with two or more employees (49 percent) say they plan to hire during the fourth quarter of 2017, a retreat from the second quarter 2017 survey (52.3 percent). It is higher than what had been reported for third quarter surveys in 2013 (40 percent), 2014 (48.1 percent), 2015 (48 percent) and 2016 (48 percent).

Some 66.7 percent of firms with more than 100 employees also say they will hire either an experienced landscape architect or an entry-level landscape architect.

The survey also asked respondents to answer questions about employee engagement at their firms.

Nearly all respondents (98 percent) from firms with two or more employees say their firms believe in treating employees with respect. The other two percent of respondents said they were not sure.

Some 99 percent of respondents from firms with two or more employees state that their firms strongly believe fostering employee engagement is critical to achieving high performance.

Some 93.1 percent of responding firms with two or more employees frequently recognize employees for work performance. Fully 82.2 percent of responding firms with two or more employees offer tangible rewards to employees for outstanding work achievements.

 

Key Survey Highlights:

Compared to the second quarter 2017, your third quarter 2017 billable hours were (all firms):
Significantly higher (more than 10%) – 16.5%
Slightly higher (5% to 10% higher) – 35.3%
About the same (plus or minus 5% or less) – 33.8%
Slightly lower (between 5% and 10% lower) – 8.3%
Significantly lower (more than 10%) – 6.0%

Compared to the second quarter 2017, your third quarter 2017 inquiries for new work were (all firms):
Significantly higher (more than 10%) – 12.0%
Slightly higher (5% to 10% higher) – 35.8%
About the same (plus or minus 5% or less) – 34.3%
Slightly lower (between 5% and 10% lower) – 14.1%
Significantly lower (more than 10%) – 3.7%

Year to year, compared to the third quarter in 2017, your third quarter 2017 billable hours were (all firms):
Significantly higher (more than 10%) – 30.8%
Slightly higher (5% to 10% higher) – 33.8%
About the same (plus or minus 5% or less) – 19.6%
Slightly lower (between 5% and 10% lower) – 10.5%
Significantly lower (more than 10%) – 5.3%

Year to year, compared to the third quarter in 2016, your third quarter 2017 inquiries for new work were (all firms):
Significantly higher (more than 10%) – 25.8%
Slightly higher (5% to 10% higher) – 34.1%
About the same (plus or minus 5% or less) – 25.8%
Slightly lower (between 5% and 10% lower) – 9.9%
Significantly lower (more than 10%) – 4.6%

Do you plan on hiring any employees in the fourth quarter of 2017 (multiple answers filtered for firms with two or more employees)?
Yes, we’ll be hiring an experienced landscape architect – 28.0%
Yes, we’ll be hiring an entry-level landscape architect – 21.0%
Yes, we’ll be hiring an intern – 8.0%
Yes, we’ll be hiring support staff – 4.0%
Yes, we’ll be hiring other design/architecture/engineering staff – 10.0%
Yes, we’ll be hiring other staff – 4.0%
No, we’re not currently hiring – 51.0%

My firm believes in treating employees with respect (filtered for firms with two or more employees):
Yes – 98.0%
No – 0.0%
Not sure – 2.0% 

My firm strongly believes in fostering employee engagement is critical to achieving high performance (filtered for firms with two or more employees):
Yes – 99.0%
No – 1.0%
Not sure – 0.0% 

My firm frequently recognizes employees for work performance (filtered for firms with two or more employees):
Yes – 93.1%
No – 3.0%
Not sure – 4.0% 

My firm offers tangible rewards to employees for outstanding work achievements (filtered for firms with two or more employees):
Yes – 82.3%
No – 11.9%
Not sure – 5.9% 

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 Q3 2017 national survey was fielded October 9 to October 23, 2017, with 137 primary firm contacts responding.

About ASLA
Founded in 1899, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is the professional association for landscape architects in the United States, representing more than 15,000 members. The Society’s mission is to advance landscape architecture through advocacy, communication, education and fellowship. Sustainability has been part of ASLA’s mission since its founding and is an overarching value that informs all of the Society’s programs and operations. ASLA has been a leader in demonstrating the benefits of green infrastructure and resilient development practices through the creation of its own green roof, co-development of the SITES® Rating System, and the creation of publicly accessible sustainable design resources.

Contact

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

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