Bidding lots of jobs is not enough to guarantee a steady flow of profitable work in today's competitive metal building and construction marketplace. Successful general contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers have learned that their bid is only one of many required steps in the sales cycle.
As a commercial general contractor, we bid several jobs every month. For each project, we receive about 100 subcontractor bids for the 30 sub-trades usually required. On average, less than 5% of these bidders ever call us to present their bid, review their proposal, discuss their bid, or even to meet with us for any reason. When we don't hear from our valued subcontractors, we assume they don't have more to offer except their price. And when they finally do call, the only sales pitch is: 'How do I look?'
Do you sell more than price?
Most contractors and subcontractors are proud of their quality work, reputation and personal service. And today's financial demands, project complexities, and tight schedules require project owners to often look for more than low bid providing the minimum per plans and specifications. But, if they aren't aware of the added value contractors can offer, the buyer has no choice but to evaluate, select and award contracts based on price.
As a professional business speaker to the construction industry, I see thousands of different construction companies in all parts of the country every year. I recognize 10 things successful contractors, subcontractors and suppliers do to get more than their share of the available profitable work. See how your company compares to this list of winning tips.
1. Written marketing & sales plan – Companies that plan their future create their future. Sit down and write your sales and marketing plan. Include sales and profit goals, customer targets, market areas, project types and sizes, and then action steps to make it happen.
2. Marketing budget 2% to 4% of volume – Companies who invest in their future make more money than those who don't. Create an image, logo and marketing materials to build an impression of who you are, what you stand for and what you specialize in. Invest at least $10,000 to $20,000 per year (this small amount does not include the cost for sales people or estimators) on marketing, mailings, flyers, customer events, meals, ballgames, golfing, thank you gifts, and cards to send out to customers. Any marketing is better than no marketing. But be consistent and diligent.
3. Customer relationship follow-up program – Identify your top 20 customers and spend time with them at least every two months in a relationship building setting like meals, association meetings, golfing, charity events, or at professional ballgames. Make sure you stay in touch with customers who make you the most money. Go and see them at least four times per year.
4. Target marketing mailing program – Keep a database of your loyal, repeat, potential customers, and referring parties. Use a simple software program like 'ACT' to keep track. Mail something to your entire list every two to three months to keep your name in front of them, peak their interest and to tell them what you can do for them. Keep the mailings simple. Send out photos, articles, postcards, flyers, new product updates, news updates, or fun things to make them smile.
5. Expertise, specialty or niche – Successful companies are known for being the best at something. Some are know for project types, or difficult jobs, or fast track, or design-build, or technical expertise. To be perceived as the best contractor choice, your customer must know what you specialize in or your area of expertise. If you market your company as a 'jack of all trades' who builds any type of project for any type of customer, you will not be perceived as an expert in any project type. Let them know what you are good at and then tell them again and again and again.