You are seated on an airplane and it just so happens that the Executive Vice President of Property Management of Equity Realty, which has hundreds of apartment complexes (six in your market), is sitting next to you. He mentions that parking lots have always been a pain in the neck, then he looks at you and asks, “If I put you in front of my team how do you think you can help us with our parking lot pain?”
You have two seconds to be of great value or have him fall asleep. What you say and how you reply could be the difference between having a great shot at a $200,000/year account (or) being just another proposal that comes late to the bidding party.
You Only Have Two Seconds!
Here’s how to win this account, gain the respect of the executive who will introduce you to the four layers beneath him, and set the expectations for his local team (regional manager, managers, maintenance supervisors).
You Answer: That would be a great opportunity, and I am certain we can share how we have helped other companies like yours with parking lot pains. Can I ask you a couple questions?
Exec VP: Sure.
You: With REITs it seems your projects are either “maintenance” or “capital” projects. Can you share with me your pain points for the each of these type projects?
Exec VP: Our capital projects team struggles with gathering the scope of work for major paving, concrete and drainage projects and getting agreement that it is the right scope based on our needs. Then we have trouble having the local team identify contractors who can deliver to the scope. There always seems to be a disconnect between what we thought we were getting compared to what we got — as well as if what we even scoped was the best plan?
On maintenance projects it is the coordination and execution of the projects that wastes a lot of our company’s time and causes frustration. It seems that our site people always have issues with coordination, communication and just getting the contractors to help us and do as they originally promised.
You: Does Equity Realty have a simple, defined process for assessment, scope creation, contractor selection, project kick-off, result review and measurement where the property, owners and executives all have a clear picture of how and why this benefits Equity?
Exec VP: That would solve a lot of problems. We have no defined process, which I guess can explain why parking lots are a pain! Is this something you can do for us in South Florida, that we then can use across the country — as my idea!
You: Yes. As you just said, you want someone who can help you solve problems and hopefully I just demonstrated how! We just figured out that parking lots and contractors are not the problem, but having someone to solve a problem with simple solutions that meet your needs is the solution.
Exec VP: Thanks. This is refreshing. Most times I have a conversation with a contractor who tells me what he does, who he has done it for and why he is better than all the other contractors. Contractors never really ask me about my needs and issues, first, like you did. You asked me questions that made it very clear you understood what my problem is and I see the value in time, money and frustration reduction that will benefit everyone.
You: I will report back to you via email with a summary of what we discussed and I will also include an example of a survey of one of your sites in Ft. Lauderdale to demonstrate how working with me will help you to preserve your asset for the long term for the least amount of money.
It’s Overall Value vs. Price
Contractors often get desperate and try to close deals by cutting price when they don’t have enough insight into the client’s or prospect’s organization. As a “pavement solution provider” it’s crucial you gain insight into what’s going on in a prospect’s company and industry. Then you can clearly show how using your company will connect to his wants and needs better — and suddenly price comes off the table. The conversation becomes all about overall value instead of about the price to patch, pave, sealcoat, sweep, crackseal and stripe a parking lot.
Michael Barrett is an industry expert who shows pavement contractors how to break through the clutter and demonstrate value with his firm www.pavementlayers.com