In January in the US investment in public construction projects increased 4.9 percent to its highest level since September 2010. The percent increase was the largest since March 2004 and followed a 1.0 percent drop in December, according to a report in March on CNBC.
Is your construction company busy? Do you have enough work to keep all your construction crews busy?
But, another study predicts that the construction industry faces a number of challenges, including a possible decrease in growth which will increase competition making it harder for contractors to find work. So if your company isn’t finding work when times are relatively good how are you going to find work when the times are really tough?
Who is responsible for finding new construction projects for contractors?
Now many think the responsibility of finding the next construction project for the company lies with senior management. But, it’s everyone’s responsibility.
Contractors with a good reputation are more likely to win new construction projects than contractors with a poor reputation. Good reputations are created by producing quality projects safely, on time and with minimal fuss to the client. A good reputation is created by working well with clients, solving problems, being proactive and being a pleasure to work with. It’s the responsibility of everyone in the company to create this reputation. It only takes one poor worker to destroy a contractor’s good reputation with their bad work and attitude.
But of course, winning new projects usually also requires your company to submit the cheapest price, or certainly a price that is competitive. How do contractors calculate the price of their work? Well, usually it’s based on past experience. How productive were the crews on the last projects? How much material was wasted on the previous projects? How much did everything cost on the completed projects? So if construction crews worked efficiently on the last project then the costs on the project are lower, meaning that the price submitted for the next project is lower, which means that the contractor has more chance of winning the project. But if crews worked inefficiently on projects then the project costs increase, and if these same costs and productivities are used when the next construction project is priced it will inevitably drive the price of the project up and the contractor has less chance of their price being lower than the competitors’ prices. This jeopardizes the contractor’s chance of winning further work. So it’s vital that everyone is productive and that materials aren’t wasted so that project costs are minimized. Not only will this ensure that the contractor is profitable but it will mean that the company wins more projects.
But finding work is more than this. It’s about knowing which clients have new construction work coming soon. Knowing this enables management to visit that client, to sell the company’s capabilities to the client, to ensure that the company has the opportunity to price the project. Who gets to hear of these upcoming projects? Well, anyone and everyone. Those working on construction projects are at the coal face and get to talk to subcontractors, suppliers and the client’s team. Any one of these could know of prospective clients and upcoming projects.
You and your team have friends and relatives in the industry. Everyone has connections. These connections could lead your company to its next project. So next time you’re at a family gathering, or chatting to friends over a beer, listen out for potential new construction works. Always be on the lookout for new projects and give the details to your manager to follow up.
Construction companies usually also require clients to find them. Clients may see an advertisement, a website, or drive past a project that the contractor is working on. Maybe that construction project is your project. Is your project a good advertisement for your company. When a prospective client walks past your construction project what do they see? Do they see an organized and clean work site that looks professional? Of course, it doesn’t help if the project looks good but there isn’t a company advertising signboard or contact details of how they can contact your company. Remember to, prospective clients might not be looking for a contractor right now. They might have a project ready to price in six months or a year. Will they remember your company then. Well if your project was neat, tidy and professional and had clear bold signs with the company name, then they’ll probably remember your company and ask your company to price their project.
What makes your construction project stand out? Well as I said, it should be neat and orderly, so no litter in the streets, clear signage and barricading, minimal disruption to the public. A big signboard that’s placed straight and level with the company name. Neat fencing or hoarding. The site should look safe, so barricading on the edges of elevated slabs is essential.
But even your people are an advertisement for the company. Unfortunately, they can also be a negative advertisement, harming the company’s image. If your workers clog the roads, fill the local lunch bars and shops, cussing and pushing, disrupting the general public, then people will get upset. Maybe one of those upset people is a prospective client who will remember your company for the wrong reasons, making sure they don’t ask your company to price their next construction project.
Do you say good things about your company, or are you whinging and criticizing management? Who is listening to you saying bad things or perhaps even telling people how your company is ripping off their clients? Possibly one of those in earshot is a prospective customer who will now give their project to another contractor.
What are people in your team saying about the company? Is it a good place to work? Are they proud of the company? Are they portraying an image of a professional construction company? What are they saying about their supervisor and about company management – hopefully good things?
Does your team have a company uniform with the company logo? Do they look professional? Or are they a ragtag bunch in a mismatch of torn and dirty clothing?
Company equipment and vehicles are an excellent form of advertising – they are mobile billboards. Or are they? Well if the truck is bashed and scraped and dirty, what image does that portray of your company? If the driver of the vehicle is rude and operates the vehicle dangerously, or breaks the road rules, what does that say about your company? How many potential clients are your company vehicles offending? But, clean and new equipment with bold company logos is a good advertisement for your company. I’ve had clients compliment us on our shiny new equipment. Regrettably, I’ve also been criticized for items that continually broke on a project. Clients want to know that equipment working on their projects will be reliable and safe.
Social media can be powerful. It can sell a positive brand or portray a negative image. Almost everyone operates a social media account such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. The images and stories posted online often spread rapidly. Consequently, posting negative reports and pictures may be seen by both potential clients and prospective employees. While positive reports, ones that portray a good image of the company, a company with good people, impressive projects, good quality, new equipment, that takes pride in their work, that has good clients, and a company that looks after its people will be attractive to both prospective employees and clients.
There will be bad days when the company equipment broke, when your boss was annoying, or when head office personnel let you down. It’s easy to become annoyed with your company and fire off negative comments about the company. But, this can have consequences for the company which may impact your future. Be proud of the company you work for. You are part of a team. Tell everyone what a great company you work for and not only will the word get to prospective clients, but others will want to come work for the company. Good companies and good managers attract good people. Every construction company is desperate to attract the best-skilled people. Good people make your job easier.
Conclusion – it’s essential everyone works together to secure the next construction project
Contractors need a continuous supply of construction projects to keep their crews and equipment busy and to pay their overhead costs. Securing the next project cannot be left entirely to the estimators and senior management. In fact, even their best efforts could be for naught if some individuals damage the company’s reputation, or if the project crews are wasteful and unproductive driving up project costs. Securing the next project and continuing work is a team effort and it requires the cooperation of everyone. Everyone needs to be promoting the company and looking out for the next construction project. Securing the next construction project is vital to the survival of the company and it will help provide continued employment for many in the crew.