Why rankings rate

Many good trade magazines publish an annual ranking of firms.  Whether called a Giants Survey, a Top Firms list or a “Best to Work For” list, when a firm finds it meets the criteria that would make them show up on one of these rankings it’s worthwhile to submit for them.

What makes rankings rate, from my perspective, is that they bridge the gap among the perspectives of marketing department, technical staff and clients while providing “third-party endorsement” for your firm.  In other words, it’s not you determining who is best, it’s what is perceived to be an objective third party doing the judging.

For technical staff, rankings provide a trusted mechanism to compare one’s firm to one’s competition.  Because these rankings are based on empirical data, they typically satisfy technical staff that the data is valid.

For clients, rankings provide an easy way to identify firms that have a certain type of expertise for which they are looking.  If, for example, I’m a facilities director for a hospital looking to build a new LEED certified facility and I want to invite a few architects to submit proposals, comparing Modern Healthcare’s list of Top Architects, Building Design +Construction’s list of Top Healthcare Firms, and Engineering News Record’s list of top Green Design Firms is likely to give me a good leaping off point.

Marketing people like rankings because they make great “elevator speech” shorthand.  Being able to say you’re one of the top ten firms in K-12 school design at a CEFPI conference gives you lightening speed credibility.  Saying you were one of the top five firms on a regional or national list of Best Firms to Work For certainly helps attract the best and brightest to work for you.

The next time you’re faced with one of those four page submittal forms that requires you to inconvenience your CFO, Managing Principal and HR Director, remember that the benefits typically outweigh the effort.


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