In profile: Darron Owen

What made you step back from being a full time fee-earning surveyor?

Since I joined Trident four years ago, the Birmingham team has been transformed and doubled in size. Our business plan was to create a team that reflected Birmingham’s status as the nation’s 2nd (or arguably 3rd) city. This requires me to undertake more business development activities, feeding work in to our capable and experienced team.

However, with Brexit and now the Coronavirus pandemic, things haven’t gone to plan, with me needing to continue fee-earning work, due to things becoming more difficult and with team growth restricted as we manage operational costs. More positively, we have picked up some good quality and sizeable instructions, resourced by me and supported by the team.

Why is this a benefit to the Birmingham team and Trident?

By increasing my BD role, more opportunities are identified and followed up, which if secured are beneficial to both Birmingham and Trident. The team members are empowered to deliver our services to the standards we expect, improving both individual and team development. Staying in touch and meeting our existing client base as well as new potential clients means that they are reminded of the services we offer and enables us to gain an understanding of their developments and requirements.

Chasing and spending time on potential instructions is working; we have won the last two tenders submitted to new clients and we are awaiting the results of two more!

How can you justify not earning the fees?

I’m still earning fees, but the enhanced team are more than capable of taking on the work I bring in, even if they are just supporting me as I lead instructions, which is sometimes a requirement of the client. In an ideal world, my team would resource all or the majority instructions we bring in, leaving me to concentrate on Business Development, the management of our offering, maintaining and pushing standards, strategic decisions and business planning. As my specialism is Project Management, I accept however that BD must be balanced in part with day to day fee earning work.

How do you split up your week to satisfy both sides of your role?

With difficulty! I can’t formally split my time but before the pandemic came along, I’d set myself the target of meeting up with at least two clients or potential client contacts weekly. If face to face meetings weren’t possible, warm call meetings were being held. This is now more important than ever, as we stay in touch with our clients and continue to provide bespoke solutions. I actively encourage my team to use the phone rather than email, to maintain and expand relationships with client contacts.

Has the change affected the team dynamics?

Our last recruit was brought in to alleviate me from lower level fee earning work. This has worked to some extent, but this happened at a time when we were successful getting on to a new client’s framework, which has meant that the individual has been required to work on this new work stream.

Richard Crow has definitely had to take on more managerial responsibilities, learning new skills and understanding the challenges this can bring on the way, and the rest of the team have all had to take on more responsibility, including the two graduate surveyors who passed their APCs in December. In terms of dynamics, the team have largely taken on the new challenges and ways of working and we are looking forward to continuing this once we get through the current situation.

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