013 SME Surveyor Business Stories with Tim Jones

We’ve caught up with Tim Jones, a Chartered Building Surveyor, BlueBox Trainer, RICS APC Trainer, Chair, Assessor and SAVA Assessor.

Tim specialises in residential building surveys and valuation advice, and he also provides training in project management, construction contracts, building surveying, management and leadership. He owns Atherstone St. James consultancy firm.

With such diverse types of work that he has been doing, in both the public and private sector, Tim gives us valuable perspectives on possible career paths in surveying.

Developing Resilience as a Surveyor

Tim started out in the public sector, working with Birmingham and Coventry City Councils as well as the Chamber of Commerce. He was involved in interesting projects such as building leisure centres, playgrounds, working on museum centres, even demolitions. It gave him a lot of experience in project management, besides surveying experience. After leaving the public sector and deciding to start his own business, he became a surveying assessor and started engaging more with training and consulting work.

“I’ve found over the years that you develop resilience. I’ve been dropped into roles that are a little bit outside my comfort zone. But you soon learn to deal with them, and that’s one of the reasons why I do a lot of project management training because a good quality project manager is a person that can use those skills and adapt them for any type of project.”

Diversification in Surveying Work

Diversification helped Tim a lot to build resilience and embrace change. He’s got his own consultancy now and is taking on very diverse types of work. Although diversification can bring up concerns for some surveyors, Tim is very intentional about it.

“I deliberately set out to have a diverse portfolio. It’s all about risk management. If you’re over-reliant on one client, and they decide to back out for whatever reason, then 95% of your work goes with them. So I tend to have a whole range of different clients. For example, I split my training work into two or three major clients, and a number of small ones. Then we’ve got the building surveying, which takes about a quarter of my time. I also do valuation surveying work for SDL, and finally, I do a lot of research to be able to impart knowledge to people who want to be trained,” Tim explains.

Work-Life Integration

Tim runs his business with his wife. We wanted to know how they started working together and how they manage to integrate business and life together.

“Prior to bringing my wife on board, I was finding that the pure admin bureaucracy of running a business was actually stopping me from generating a lot more income. So with a bit of training, my wife Fiona opted into the role of the finance director. She is now making sure that all the finances are in place, that we pay tax on time, she works with the accountant, chases clients for money, but she’s also leading the sales and marketing side of things, and has developed quite a good path on the phone to persuade people to have a building survey or valuation survey. So we work quite well together, and it’s a bit like a jigsaw, the pieces fit together.”

The Importance of Integrating into Local Community

We also asked Tim for advice for SME’s on how to get involved with their local community in order to find business.

“I know a lot of organisations that start off by getting involved with real commerce and other support organisations. For a while I did some voluntary work, I went to people who’d been made redundant or just started a business and gave them advice about starting up and looking for government or local grants. If you talk to your local economic development department in your county, they’ll be able to point you in the right direction in terms of support and mentoring schemes. When I was doing that, I found that I was learning about how to set up a business by actually mentoring somebody on setting up their own business. I also got involved in the local charitable sector, and it helped from a networking point of view that I became a trustee and chair of a couple of organisations. And running a charitable organisation is the same as owning a business. If you run it badly, then it stops functioning.”

How Surveyors Can Promote Green Solutions

Surveyors are in a position to support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and RICS #valuetheplanet Campaign through their work. While the legislation is continually changing to enforce regulations on recycling, waste management or energy consumption, buyers are also more interested in living in ‘green’ houses.

“It’s a double hit,” Tim says, “the legislation is forcing us to do things in a different way, but also there’s a growing trend for people wanting to be green from a corporate sense or a personal sense. I think that the younger generations are becoming more astute in understanding the effects of climate change. As surveyors, we’ve got to respond to that. We need to understand how buildings work, and can promote sustainable actions within buildings and in developments. It’s part of our role.”

There is also the social impact in how we respond to climate change issues. Buildings are not only functional, static things, it’s the humans that live inside them that are creating the dynamic. Surveyors can make a difference by helping people live a better life, in cleaner streets and more sustainable buildings.

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