Business Opportunity in a Down Economy - Opportunity in the Downturn

Concrete Contractor Editor's Letter

We've all heard it from business management experts and our older peers, and sometimes the optimism is hard to swallow. But guess what - they're right! When times get tough, jumping ship isn't always the smart thing to do; stick around, tough out the bad times, and there's a good chance when things turn around you'll come out on top.

Finding opportunity in a downturn can mean a variety of things. It might mean picking up customers from former competitors who go out of business. Or it might mean taking advantage of extra free time to complete educational courses or train your employees on a new technique. Whatever opportunities might present themselves to your company, take advantage of them and most likely they'll benefit you in some way down the road.

Our January contractor profile looks at Bartley Corporation out of Silver Spring, Md. Now here's a smart company that looks for opportunity in economies good and bad, but during my visit to their headquarters in early December I became fully aware of just how proactive this company has been in regards to looking for opportunity in the downturn.

With money tight throughout the economy, Bartley Corp. saw an opportunity to market the company's offerings in "green" concrete, namely concrete homes, insulated concrete walls and pervious concrete. They saw a number of homeowners looking for ways to save money on heating bills. By teaming with local home builders and making themselves visible at local home shows, the company is starting to land a number of jobs through its "green" marketing.

Another thing Bartley Corp. did was bring in a new employee, Andy Bartley, son of the company's president, Tom Bartley, to focus on several marketing and promotional projects within the company. Andy, who has a background in computer science, redesigned Bartley Corp.'s website and created a series of promotional brochures for the company. Each brochure explains a different aspect of Bartley Corp.'s line-up of services so the company can send only the brochures applicable to a specific client when sending out job proposals.

Andy is also LEED-AP, making him the company's point person for anything related to sustainability. He's creating a database of potential clients to whom they can market their green services.

Yet another task Andy undertook was coordinating the necessary items needed for the company to become a CFA-Certified Foundation Company through the Concrete Foundations Association. With Andy working as the point person to gather the required documents, the company was able to acquire the designation in a timely manner without company management having to stop sales and field work to organize everything. (You can learn more about the CFA Foundation Company Certification Program in this issue).

Think about your company and the opportunities available to you in the current economy. You might not have the resources to hire your own Andy, but take it upon yourself to update your marketing materials; scour your database and reach out to old clients you've been out of contact with for a while; or think about ways to diversify your company into pervious concrete, decorative concrete or concrete paving and get the education and training needed to perform this work professionally. Don't sit around and let your company become a victim of the economic downturn. Believe the business management experts and the old-timers in the industry and find your opportunity in the downturn.