Two months ago I asked an electrical contractor to price some work. A few weeks later I emailed them on another issue and asked where the quote was. They acted surprised I hadn’t got the price and promised to resend it. Nothing arrived.
When I met the electrician at another job I again asked what had happened to their price. It appeared they had sent the quote to the wrong email – despite me regularly communicating by email! I was promised the quote would be resent. I was surprised to hear the electrician actually had little work in the last month and was desperate for new projects. Obviously not desperate enough to follow up on the quote sent to me. A few days later and I still haven’t received their price.
It’s the same story with a number of other requests for quotes. In early January the shade sails at a rental property needed urgent replacement. We sent out 3 urgent requests for quotes. One company replied the same day and got the job. The other two companies contacted us nearly two months later. I’m still waiting for a quote to replace the roof on an apartment complex nearly four months after the company visited the apartments. I received a quote from another company within a week.
Some companies always seem to have work, even when the economy is depressed, while others seem to struggle to find work. Why is this?
How you can secure more construction business opportunities
1. Follow-up on quotes
A few days after submitting your quote call the customer. Check they’ve received your quote. Ask if they have any questions and if everything is clear. Let them know you’re interested in the work. If they intend to place the order with another contractor ask why. Feedback is important for future quotes.
You may need to make some adjustments in your next quote to win the project, or, if you can’t meet your competitors’ prices you may have to revisit how you do work or even consider looking at other markets where you could be more competitive. Send your customers their quote as soon as possible – many customers are impatient and want immediate answers. As they say; ‘the early bird catches the worm’! Often we will proceed with the quotes we have and not wait for stragglers.
Ensure your quote is clear and includes everything that was asked. Tell the customer why they should be using your company. Unfortunately many quotes end up in the trash. Customers can’t find what they are looking for or the quote has so many exclusions and legalese that customers can’t be bothered. Obviously ensure your price is submitted to the correct address.
Without a good reputation you will be lost. Your company’s reputation is built on delivering a quality project, safely, on time and with minimal fuss. Ensure your employees understand this. It only takes one employee to destroy your company’s reputation. Word of mouth is often your best advertisement and repeat customers should be looked after.
4. Always be professional
This means returning phone messages, answering emails and arriving to meetings on time. Customers can sometimes be irritating or ask stupid questions. They will stretch your patience. Unfortunately you usually just have to deal with it. However, some customers can be very tiresome and distract your time from other projects and customers. It might be time to avoid pricing projects for these difficult customers – but don’t be rude to them.
Advertising methods vary by market and what works for one company won’t work for another. We all focus on different customers and types of work. HoweverI’ll touch on a few items.
- Ensure your website is up to date and reflects the projects the company delivers. Obviously check that the contact details are current.
- Company equipment and vehicles with the company’s name and contact details are almost free advertising. Equipment should always be clean and in good condition as poor equipment is a poor advertisement.
- Always carry business cards and company brochures with you – you never know when you could meet a potential client.
- Ensure that you are targeting your advertising correctly. What works for one company won’t necessarily work for another company that’s a different size or targeting different customers.
- Sign boards with your contact details placed outside the projects where you are working are essential. However ensure they have your customer’s approval and meet the local authorities’ requirements. Sometimes even safety signage with your company’s name on it can be sufficient advertising.
6. Keep in touch with your past clients
Don’t assume that past customers will remember you. Develop long standing business relationships. But don’t rely only on these relationships. Remember customers are often evolving, moving people to different roles, opening new departments, changing the way they give out projects. Be aware of these changes otherwise you may not notice that the person you were relying on no longer holds influence on the awarding of new projects.
7. Chat with current customers, subcontractors, project managers, designers and suppliers
Ask about new leads. If they know you are looking for new projects they may refer your company to someone they know. Ensure your employees are on the lookout for new work opportunities which can be passed back to managers to follow-up. Looking for work shouldn’t only be the responsibility of business development managers, the estimating department or senior managers. Securing new projects is a team effort and your employees need to understand this.
8. Always look for new opportunities
You may consider new areas, new markets or new products. Always be on the lookout for new project opportunities as you travel around – even on your day off. Keep current with the local news stories. Keep a list of possible upcoming projects and contact those associated with the bidding process.
9. Think ‘out-the-box’
Is the traditional way of finding new work not delivering results? Look for other avenues. What are your competitors doing differently? Who gives out the type of projects you do? Who are potential customers? Can we make minor changes to the product you offer that could possibly attract a new customer base?
10. Be aware of the latest technology developments
There’s new technology to help us manage our projects and businesses better so we spend less time with paperwork and mundane tasks. There are options to better market our company. Our customers are demanding that we include the latest technology into their products.
There are new building materials and methods that can reduce project costs, shorten project durations and improve quality. Consider how virtual reality can provide customers a 3D image of the finished product. Of course don’t just jump in with the latest technology without investigating it properly and understanding whether it will be right for your company and your customers.
The world around us is continually evolving. Our customers are changing. Our customers’ requirements are changing. Estimating and pricing projects can be tedious but it’s a necessary part of the contracting business. We may think we’re too busy now to chase down new projects, but by the time we make the time it will probably be too late and the company will desperately need new work. Opportunities will have passed us by.
Don’t miss out on business opportunities! How will you ensure you don’t lose opportunities? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.