July 23, 2014

2014 Rising Giants: Issues & Trends

Where is all this work coming from? The U.S., primarily. Only 14 percent of projects from responding Rising Giants are international, and that’s held steady for four years. The geography has trended in certain directions. For example, 40 percent of responding firms now work in Canada, up from only 26 percent. Compare that with Asia (54 percent, no real change), the Middle East (42 percent, up from 30 percent), and Europe (29 percent, dropping from 37 percent). Back home, firms predict a slight drop-off in the Northeast simultaneous with improvement in the South, Midwest, and West.

“In 2013, our San Diego office exploded, and our Bay Area work increased exponentially,” LPA principal Karen Thomas says. According to STG Design principal Jim Susman, the Lone Star State is also “extremely active—our Houston office doubled in size in a year.”

With all that activity, staffing is by far the biggest business issue. Concerns about recruiting, retaining, and training staff dominated our survey responses.

More proof of how busy everyone is: There’s less time for extracurricular activities, 81 percent of responding firms agree. Last time, that number was 70 percent.


 Client Issues
Client’s willingness to pay what it’s worth
Getting clients to understand design value 59%
Finding new clients 45%
Managing client expectations  38%
Client’s willingness to take design risks  34%
Handling micromanaging clients 21%
Retaining current clients 13%








Business Issues
Earning appropriate fees
Dealing with clients’ increasing demands 59%
Uncertain economy 45%
Increasing interference from client’s consultants  38%
Creating cutting-edge design solutions  34%
Managing the growing needs for sustainable design 21%
Managing vendors 13%


















Practice Issues
Recruiting qualified staff
Creating new business/Diversifying into new services 53%
Training staff 43%
Marketing the firm’s capabilities  37%
Retaining qualified staff  29%
Offering staff appropriate pay and benefits 21%
Keeping track of profits and expenses 12%




















<Back to main article
2014 Rising Giants 1-100: Market Segment Report
2014 Rising Giants 1-100: Fees and Salaries
2014 Rising Giants 1-100: Growth

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