Hi folks 👋
This week we are starting the Level 2 mandatory competencies. This post will cover Level 1 of Client Care, with Level 2 coming the week after!
DISCLAIMER: The following is not an exhaustive set of notes, but it's an attempt to help those who, like me at the beginning, did not know where to start! Please feel free to let me know if I have said anything incorrect or out of date!
So what is Level 1 Client Care all about?
The RICS note that to demonstrate competence at Level 1, you need to demonstrate your ability to:
Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the principles and practice of client care including:
The concept of identifying all clients/colleagues/third parties who are your clients and the behaviour that is appropriate to establish good client relationships
The systems and procedures that are appropriate for managing the process of client care, including complaints
The requirement is to collect data, analyse and define the needs of clients.
The information contained within a client’s brief
A client’s brief is usually a scope document which identifies what services you as a QS will provide. I have seen briefs in two forms: tenders and emails.
Tendering for a client’s professional services framework involves identifying costs for different grades of surveyor for a specific set of work. Client’s can seek tenders on a project basis or they might ask for a surveyor to work with them across various projects from beginning to end.
Emails are very informal and tend to be derived from a good relationship with the client. The client may email you and ask if you have anyone available to support them with a specific function e.g. QS or PM. You would then enquire about the level of experience they require and the potential utilisation i.e. full-time or x days a week.
I’ve written the emails above but it could very well be a phone call or a face-to-face conversation where the client has enquired about resource availability.
Defining your scope of services within the limits of your competence and PI insurance
This is a critical part of your knowledge. You need to know exactly what your skill set as a QS is. You are not a designer (engineer, architect etc) or a lawyer. Your organisation has Professional Indemnity Insurance which protects professionals from mistakes made in their line of work. However, this protection will only be served if you as a QS made an error related to QS work, not if you started doing legal work. A prime example of this is when the client wants contract amendments to a standard form - we would always advise them to get this done by their legal team as our PI cover would not cover it!
How fees are established
Fees for QS’s generally come in three forms:
Percentage basis of the overall contract value, between 1.5% to 3%
I have mainly worked on projects which were on a time charge or fixed fee basis. The time charge projects were built up from a schedule of rates for surveyors on the projects. These were usually day rates!
Day rates are determined by your employer and usually encompass your salary, overhead and profit. This day rate is multiplied by the number of days you spent on a project (usually recorded by timesheet)!
Fixed fee projects are slightly more complicated. The client will submit a brief and a senior surveyor will usually have to estimate how much it will cost them to deliver the client’s requirements! If they are too conservative with their estimate there is a risk they will overspend and not make a profit on the job. If they are too heavy-handed with the cost there is a risk it won’t be competitive and another organisation will snap up the work.
The use of standard forms of appointment
RICS members are obliged to record the terms of their appointments in writing. The Standard Appointment has been published to facilitate this as, generally, written contracts — were properly considered — provide more certainty and lessen the potential for dispute between parties than purely verbal agreements.
Mechanisms contained within an appointment document
Contractual mechanisms are used in an appointment document to protect both the client and service professional. The RICS guidance notes explanatory notes break them down further.
Insurance requirements (legal and RICS)
Regulated firms have to have Professional Indemnity Insurance that meets a minimum level of protection. PI insurance is an insurance product designed for professional firms and people which covers them in the event of certain errors made during the course of their business.
How stakeholders are identified and how their status within the project is established
Stakeholders are anyone who is affected by or has an interest in your project. It could be neighbours, environmental interest groups or your client’s executive board.
Part of your job as a professional is to have commercial awareness - this means understanding your client's needs and requirements. It will involve you being empathic and paying attention to the issues your client faces. Your client will definitely let you know who some of the stakeholders are, but the best consultants are those who can foresee a problem before it occurs and solve it before their clients even find out.
Formal communication systems with clients and stakeholders
Communication with clients and stakeholders should always be formalised and recorded. If there is a communication system used like ASITE or CEMAR this is preferable. Having a formal system will help prevent mis-communciation and ensure transparency.
Complaints handling procedures
The RICS imposes specific requirements on regulated firms with regard to the handling of complaints. Rule 7 of the RICS’ Rules of Conduct for Firms states:
‘A Firm shall operate a complaint handling procedure and maintain a complaints log. The complaints handling procedure must include an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism that is approved by the Regulatory Board.’
Key Performance Indicators can be used by clients to measure the performance of their consultants. I’ve only ever seen them used in frameworks where the client has multiple consultants looking after different packages of work and there are certain metrics which are measured. For example:
Speed of responding to communications;
Cost savings on CEs
Health and safety alerts
That’s it for this post folks - if you have any questions give me a shout!