Even though the pickings are slimmer, there is still construction work out there. And while competition for that work is likely tougher than it's ever been, there are still project owners who value quality and timeliness over the lowest possible cost of completion.
If you want to capture their business now and in the future, you need to stick to the core values and competencies that make your company unique in the market. If you have yet to identify them, or haven't reviewed them in a while, it's an excellent time to do so. Not only can it help you to position yourself strategically to survive the current economic climate, it will enable you to move forward in a positive direction once the recovery sets in.
In "Build a Strategic Framework: Mission Statement, Vision, Values?", Susan M. Heathfield at About.com states: "Effective organizations identify and develop a clear, concise and shared meaning of values/beliefs, priorities, and direction so that everyone understands and can contribute." Once defined, these traits can be transformed into a statement that establishes how everyone within the organization should value its customers, suppliers and internal "community."
The values you identify should direct your external and internal relationships, as well as your priorities as a company. For example, in its value statement, Magill Construction, a successful commercial building contractor here in Wisconsin, focuses first on "building people and relationships," and second, on delivering "quality in every aspect of the project." This includes making sure it has "quality people in the field committed to a job well done."
Because it actually "walks the walk and talks the talk," Magill has successfully taken its core values and transformed them into one of its core competencies. Core competencies are the business strengths that set a company apart from its competitors. They're the reason that clients choose one company over another.
Some core competencies - such as a history of on-time project completion - are easy to identify. Others may not be as obvious. As such, it helps to bring together a committee consisting of representatives from the various segments of your organization (from upper management to office workers to equipment operators) for a brainstorming session. Also consider asking some of your key clients why they did, or didn't, hire you for a particular project. And if needed, bring in a business management consultant to talk you through the issues and serve as an objective third party.
Such an exercise can be a very eye opening experience. Not only will the process enable you to identify, focus upon and market your company's strengths, it may help you determine where it needs the most work in order to more effectively compete.
Now, going back to those core values - do the competencies you identified reflect the concepts described in your value statement? Or were the values you hold as a company included in your competency list? If not, you may want to do some soul searching to determine why your values are not being met, or to identify new ones that better reflect your company's current objectives and beliefs.