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The level of engagement needed between consultancy team and client

REC logo and Gary Winder

REC is a 120-strong multi-disciplinary environmental consultancy with an emphasis on local delivery from 11 offices across the UK and Ireland.

Gary Winder, Managing Director of REC, talks about the importance of creating a commercial culture within the team in view of the consultancy's growth plans.

“Synergist changes everything. Everything now links together.” 

“Synergist helps us to make huge decisions that we couldn’t do before."

REC environmental consultant testing soil sample

The engagement challenge

"It's a clear trend: Clients want a quick response, better engagement, clear and commercial advice and viable and practical solutions from environmental consultancies – and from consultants who really understand and are engaged with their clients business and its drivers. 

"Every week we meet clients who are not entirely happy with their current consultants, having experienced poor levels of engagement in the past."

Clients want their environmental consultants to....

  • Take an interest in the clients’ needs and their issues.
  • Take a solution-oriented approach, coming up with pragmatic answers.
  • Take a big-picture perspective, avoiding narrow technical definitions of what is needed.
  • Pick up the phone, ask, investigate and question until all of the issues are identified so that sound solutions are delivered.”

Small consultancies can do this and can offer a fully engaged service, but they sometimes lack the technical strength in depth across multiple disciplines and the scalability over larger projects or across regions.”

“So what's the answer?

"The model we have developed at REC is proving successful at bridging the gap.”

Entrance to mine

How do you build a commercial culture?

1. Brand identity

“To take it seriously, you need to make commercial culture a key part of your DNA; a core competitive difference rather than a mere afterthought. We concentrate on our team and our clients – and on delivering professional and authoritative solutions to our client’s problems and needs.”

2. Team development

“There’s a shortage of commercially-aware consultants out there to hire, so you have to develop them. Synergist helps: It gives our teams a wider perspective, shows them the commercial implications of their decisions, and helps them prioritise and make the right decisions.”

3. Engagement with clients

“Clients want consultants to get involved, pick up the phone, be an active participant in their issues and be part of their team. Synergist helps: It shows the project managers live information on the status of their projects, helping them to manage better and connect with our clients.”

4. Space to grow

“You have to encourage people to progress. When consultants become managers they sometimes don’t like to let go and delegate. They’re specialists, not instinctive business managers. That’s a constraint on growth. Synergist helps: The manager can delegate and see that everything’s reassuringly under control, and it helps them see their area as a business, making their priorities and decisions clearer.”

5. Remove administration

“A lot of a consultant’s time can be taken up with routine administrative tasks. Synergist removes a great deal of this from them, enabling the teams to focus more of their time on their clients and projects.”

Construction site, source of noise pollution

Before Synergist

“We used to run our consultancy based on spreadsheets, which resulted in a number of problems. We never quite had clarity or visibility of our WIP or when it was going to be delivered – yet the business was growing so we knew we needed a proper system.”

“We looked closely at two systems. Synergist stood out. The other one looked too much like a package that we had seen before – complicated, with an interface that was unattractive. It could have resulted in lower engagement from the team and a longer lead-in time to being fully established. We wanted a large number of our people to use it and to see its benefits – so we chose Synergist.”

“We have 11 offices now. We are multi- disciplinary – providing environmental consultancy services across all aspects of contaminated land, geotechnical engineering, ecology, air quality, acoustics, asbestos and so on. That’s a complex business to run on spreadsheets let alone with a proper system!”

“We used to get data only after the event and so at our March board meeting for example we would still be discussing our January figures. That’s not sustainable.”

“With consultancies like ours you need to be on top of utilisation and profitability.

"You need to be in control of time and able to manage it. You need to know exactly how busy you are, and that has to be directly linked into the core of the business.”

Urban landscape with bridge

After Synergist

“Synergist changes everything.”

“I now know how we’re doing without having to phone around the offices and pull it all together. And of course our key people are not always in the office anyway.”

“We track utilisation, sales and GP weekly so that we can see our direction of travel. Everything now links together.” 

“Synergist helps us to make huge decisions that we couldn’t do before. For example, we made a structural change as a direct result of the data provided by Synergist.”

“Sometimes a team asks us to hire a senior consultant for them. But the Synergist data can show us that we actually need someone in a more junior role. That makes a huge difference to our bottom line.”

“Synergist shows exactly what the capacity is in each of our teams. It lets us analyse, improve and challenge efficiencies, rather than simply leaping into hiring every time.”


“REC was acquired recently by a VC group and is part of the Concept Life Sciences group.

With growth being such a driver for us, Synergist’s ability to provide detailed visibility of our operations, enable project managers to make sound decisions – and of course its scalability are a big plus. It is therefore part of our ongoing growth plans.”

Landscape with lighting


“Synergist is relatively user friendly. And its flexibility is also a big bonus. The other day we wanted to change a charge code and we could do this instantly. Not all systems allow that sort of flexibility.”

“In fact the quality of the people we’ve interacted with, such as Magnifeye / The Agency Works’ Steve Vincent and Richard Dawson, and Synergist’s Keith White and the helpdesk team – they all reflect the high quality of the system itself.”

“Synergist links everything into one and it actively supports our culture of giving our consultants the opportunity to shine at every client touch point.”

“Synergist’s helpdesk is fantastic, by phone, by email and online, where they can guide you using your own system. It’s a high quality service.” 

REC planners studying p[roperty blueprint

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