Best overall reputation in consultancy sector

If reputation is considered the most important factor in influencing customers' choice of consultancy, we had to ask, who has the best reputation?

This was broken down so we could see what customers thought of consultants and what consultants thought of each other.

Then it was broken down further so we could see who has the best reputation in individual sectors and how this compares with who was thought to conduct the most business and who actually has the highest turnover.

Our results found that there was one clear winner in terms of reputation and perceived turnover: Atkins Environmental.

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The reputation results show a clear correlation with the results for which companies are perceived to conduct the most business, with the placings for the top six companies - Atkins, Entec UK, AEA Technology, Enviros, ERM, and Environ - identical in both surveys.

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As is clear from both graphs, Atkins is way ahead in most people's minds. But, why? What is it that they do that sets them apart?

Dermod Sweeney, Managing Director of Atkins' Water and Environment division believes that one thing that sets them apart is the sheer breadth of services on offer. The company operates across a number of sectors - from infrastructure projects such as road and rail building, to construction, waste management services, planning, land remediation, environmental strategy, environmental management and numerous other sectors.

This range of services, combined with Atkins' considerable engineering arm, means it can act as a "one stop-shop", in Sweeney's words, to provide a number of environmental solutions. It also serves to give it maximum visibility and Atkins was also voted the most recognisable, or the company that most people were aware of, in the environmental consultancy sector.

The two graphs above also clearly illustrate the relationship that most respondents believe exists between reputation and business size. As can be seen, the ranking for the top six places is identical in both graphs.

As can be seen from the graph, ERM is clearly very highly respected by consultants and ranks fifth in the perceived turnover, or business, stakes, yet has no engineering wing to its services, it offers pure consultancy.

Dr Tom Woollard, Principal Consultant for ERM believes that this can skew the results of surveys of this nature, asking where one would draw the line between consultancy and engineering, and how much of a company's reputation and turnover actually comes from the consultancy side and how much from engineering or groundworks.

Doug Morton from Entec agreed that having an engineering arm gave access to a wider range of contracts as clients believe that the project is more likely to be seen through from start to finish, with less likelihood of problems from sub-contractors.

What was especially interesting in the results depicted above, is the positioning of the RPS Group. In the Environment Business consultancy survey 2004, RPS was shown to have the actual highest turnover in the environmental consultancy market - outstripping all of the competition.

However, RPS ranked seventh in our table of the firms respondents believed conducted the most business, and eleventh for best overall reputation.

This is a little confusing as RPS has as large a range of services as all other big players and considerable experience in the environment and civil engineering sector.

None of the other consultants was willing to discuss this result, and no spokesperson from RPS was available for comment.

Having looked at overall reputation and perceived size of business, we can now turn to who has the best reputation in individual sectors.



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