I have worked in the construction industry for long enough to know that one of the most important elements for small contractors and consultants is to receive a steady flow of tender/work enquiries through the door. Whenever I sit down with a new or existing client their expectation is for an increase of market share. Quite rightly so! And, even in this economic downturn it is possible to achieve that both with loyal and new customers.
Is marketing becoming more complex?
I think the answer to that is both yes and no. What I mean is that the processes like e-procurement and a plethora of new portals springing up require more time consuming work. Linked to that are the framework agreements with PQQs which all take much longer and involve getting the theory of the construction process right. On the other hand it is still essential to talk to your clients as well as consistently throwing out the net to catch the new fish.
What not to do…
1. Have unreasonable expectations – I worked with a Building Services Consultancy last year who asked me to make contact with several new businesses that they had identified as potential new clients. That was fine until they told me that they were not interested in small jobs but rather only wanted the multi-million pound schemes. In my experience new clients do not just give out that size project to an unknown consultancy. They need to prove themselves first. The results of this campaign were obviously fruitless.
2. Anything goes – the same consultancy then proceeded to ask me if I could make contact with businesses requiring fire risk assessments. I asked them who would be carrying out this work and was told that they would be sub-contracting the work to another firm. My face gave the game away when I asked them if I should rather go and work for this third party carrying out the fire risk assessments. The moral of the story is to be very clear about targeting the right people when marketing your business.
3. Panic pricing – we have all come across this ‘suicide bidding’ and shaken our heads in disbelief. Post tender feed back has shown some contractors and consultants going in to a job with silly prices. Some of these prices have even been below cost. Last year RICS carried out a survey amongst 400 Quantity Surveyors and found that more than 20% of tenders were submitted at a sub-economic level. Most of those bids were 10% below cost while some were as much as 40%. Stay clear of this type of pricing.
What to do then…
1. Maintain a current database – it is critical that you maintain a current database of your prospects, clients and stay in touch with them. Marketing managers need to encourage directors and site staff to maintain a good rapport with all work providers and their staff. Critical because they are aware how you are performing on the current job but also know of future projects at different stages.
2. Don’t be afraid to call people – pick up that telephone and speak with the MD or Estimator or Estates manager and talk with them. Learn what it means to develop a working relationship with them. Learn to go the extra mile with your clients by ensuring they know about new developments on the project or of any changes that need to take place. Openness and honesty makes a way for strong relationships and a long term client.
3. Use social media – we have so much choice today when it comes to social media and when used in conjunction with your overall marketing will prove to be very powerful. However, don’t let it sap your time. When social media is planned properly it can be scheduled to reduce time and increase your company profile in the market place. All of these points both the right and wrong will help us to understand what it means to generate new business opportunities.
If you lack the time or ability to action these things give me a call. I would be glad to chat with you about how we can bring more tender enquiries through your door and so generate new business for either contractors or consultants. Give me a call on 01202 882 225.