The Batture team celebrating the firm’s fifth anniversary.
GIVING BACK, from page 7
TZL: Batture has two owners and managing partners. How do you and Jennifer divide your duties? How did you come together to create Batture? BM: When the firm was smaller, we both literally did everything, but as our company has grown our roles are starting to refine. My current role is CFO/HR and Jenny’s is CEO. We’re both involved in marketing and business development and are hands-on with developing employees and working on projects. I opened Batture in 2014 with the goal of bringing in a business partner pretty quickly. Jenny and I originally met through EWB and got acquainted working on projects while employed at different firms in New Orleans. Around the same time, Waggonner Ball (a local architecture and planning firm) started the “Living with Water” movement in New Orleans with the publication of the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan. Jenny and I were constantly crossing paths as two engineers who were passionate about water management and the ideas presented in the urban water plan. In 2016, Jenny wanted to open a firm and we both had the same idea of teaming up as partners. As trivial as it sounds, a big reason for us partnering was so we could each take vacations while the other one took care of the business. We shared the same vision for what an engineering firm could be and the same desire to build a New Orleans firm specializing in water management. Jenny is one of the best engineers I know. We get along really well as friends, and we have a high level of trust between us. TZL: In one word or phrase, what do you describe as your number one job responsibility as CEO? BM: Listening.
Our goal is to be transparent on how we see the business evolving and keep an open dialogue within the company. We often remind employees that we are novice business owners and ask for their patience with us and ask them for feedback and ideas on how to improve. TZL: How has COVID-19 affected your business on a daily basis? BM: We have gotten so much better at communication and not interrupting each other throughout the day. I still call people out of the blue more than anyone (and they answer because I’m an owner), but most of us are sending a message first to see if the other person is available. We are developing the habit of setting our status in Slack (in a meeting, walking the dog, do not disturb, etc.) and checking people’s status before messaging them. We are spending more time on video chats and phone calls. There are lots of virtual screen shares within our company and with clients to walk through our design process. TZL: What unique or innovative pricing strategies have you developed, or are you developing, to combat the commoditization of engineering services? BM: For private developments, we offer land surveying, landscape architecture, civil engineering and structural engineering. While we do make exceptions, we try our best to offer all those services or none of the services to a client. The idea is that we can offer the services at lower fees when we do everything because our risk is spread thinner. There is a cost savings for the client and time savings on coordination meetings between disciplines. By offering the services together it also limits the client’s ability to shop for other prices. Most importantly, this scenario allows our employees to work together and to achieve more than they can individually.
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THE ZWEIG LETTER JULY 27, 2020, ISSUE 1354
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