After months of denial, the Federal government has finally admitted that we've entered a recession - at least in "parts of the country." While this comes as no surprise to most of us, it does underscore the severity of the problems the U.S. economy is facing.
On the plus side, the commercial construction market has actually experienced robust activity in many regions in 2008. This is, in part, due to the lag effect common to the industry. Much of the construction put in place this year was awarded back in the latter half of 2007. But with the economy's downward spiral and the credit freeze still largely in place, fewer new projects are being put out for bid, and those that are have significantly more contenders vying for the work.
Your company's ability to stay ahead of the competition during this latest down cycle will depend largely on your willingness to get out and beat the bushes. Maintaining relationships with your existing clients, and establishing relationships with potential new ones, could make or break your business in the months ahead.
As such, now is not the time to hunker down and wait out the storm. You need to actively promote your company's services to keep it at "top of mind" as clients and prospects put together their short list of potential bidders for future projects.
As a magazine publisher, one of the things we emphasize to clients in a down market is the importance of maintaining visibility to your customers and prospects. It has been shown, historically, that those who promote their products and/or services throughout a down economic cycle tend to come out ahead once the market rebounds.
A construction business is not much different. Customers who see you actively promoting your company - particularly when times are tough - are more inclined to view it as a strong, successful operation worth doing business with in future. You also have a great opportunity to stand out from the crowd, since many of your competitors may be unwilling, or unable, to invest in promotion.
Although there are a variety of potential advertising opportunities, your marketing efforts need not be limited to paid advertisements. There are numerous other low-cost ways to get your name out in front of potential clients. For example, you could:
- serve on your city council or one of its committees;
- become a member of the board for a community fundraiser;
- donate time, materials or equipment to a local Habitat for Humanity (or similar) project;
- conduct a corporate fundraiser or donate auction items for a local charity;
- become a corporate sponsor for a local youth organization or community event;
- host an open house at your offices, etc.
Such activities are a great way to garner positive publicity for your business, as well as rub elbows with current and prospective clients. You also foster good will within the community, while serving a worthwhile cause.
The point is to get creative when it comes to getting the word out about your business. The more promotion you generate now, the more work you may see come your way once the construction economy starts to recover.