We're hearing solid reports from the field that maybe, just maybe, much of the paving & pavement maintenance market has turned the corner. Not only are more contractors reporting bidding (and getting) more work but we're hearing consistently that the jobs awarded are for larger projects (where the last few years property owners were scaling down jobs to do only what they absolutely had to do). To some extent this good news depends on the market you're in and the types of services you provide, but generally speaking reports are substantially more positive than negative.
Except in the areas of pricing and profit margin where we're hearing that prices remain depressed and margins continue to be too tight -- and that needs to change.
There's no question a tough economy impacts every company and alters the way we go to market. But despite the recent years of price- and margin-cutting work there are contractors who have fought to hold the line on pricing and to retain the margin they need to succeed. These top-quality contractors (along with industry consultant after industry consultant) tell us that quality and value are the keys to your success. Without value, without job quality, price becomes the dominant buying factor. When value and quality are in play price becomes a one-time buying factor.
While this shouldn't be a surprise to many (except those who strive to be the cheapest), performing quality work and providing value to your customers is among the most-common concerns voiced by business owners and managers (and some of the most in-demand seminars at National Pavement Expo are focused on improving job quality whether that means crew performance, technique, efficiency etc.). And this year consultant Roger Bostdorff, B2B Sales Boost, attacks the problem head on in his new NPE session, "If the Problem is Price, What Is Your Solution?"
There are many ways to produce a quality job and run a quality organization -- find and hire the right people, match the worker to the task, provide the best tools and equipment, client communication, proper training, engender company loyalty, offer competitive salary and benefits, create a team environment, and more. And rare is the contractor who has a problem in all these areas -- just as it's rare to have a concern in none of these areas.
A good, objective look at your organization can help you identify what you can do to improve the quality of the work you provide and the value of the services you sell. After all, it's your company name on the truck and if this industry is ever going to get back to realistic for-profit-and-growth pricing we have to make sure we are proud to stand behind the work we do.