Experts continue to debate the current state of the economy and whether the low level of market activity represents a recession or a depression.
In all industries, the companies that are most likely to get enough work to navigate their way through the current economic slowdown rarely pay attention to those discussions. Successful construction company leaders know most talk is cheap – only results matter to the bottom line. No matter what label fits the current economy, fewer project opportunities exist. To succeed, companies must figure out how to market their reputation and qualifications better than their competitors.
In a recent nationwide survey of commercial construction and design companies conducted during the third quarter, 83% of respondents said that their primary source of business is a combination of repeat clients, referrals and networking. It should come as no surprise that decision-makers in the commercial construction and design industry rarely enter into unknown business relationships.
Only 17 percent said they would be receptive to starting a relationship with a company based on a cold sales call, and 20 percent said they would look in a printed directory for a new business resource. Comparatively, 87 percent said they would be receptive to a new business relationship introduced by a trusted colleague.
All of this affirms that creating and maintaining business relationships is paramount for companies to succeed in the construction industry.
Among the ways in which companies nurture their business relationships, 48 percent said breakfast and lunch meetings were most common, while 19 percent entertained with a combination of golf, fishing and sporting event outings.
Interestingly, 33 percent said they do nothing to nurture existing business relationships. With that in mind, the opportunity for companies to develop repeat clients and attract new clients may be as simple as providing a little more appreciation for their business relationships than the competition does.
When it comes to networking, the most effective means is to become a member of a local business or trade organization. In fact, 93 percent of the industry belongs to at least one business or trade organization. And while 80 percent of companies attend a networking event at least once a month, 20 percent do not participate in any way. Regular attendance at meetings and events maximizes the ROI on membership dues and maintains company exposure among clients, prospects and peers.
As important as it is for companies to constantly cultivate valuable relationships, the time and expense can add up quickly. A well-thought-out marketing plan can complement those efforts. While 32 percent of companies spend the majority of their advertising budget on logos for vehicles, shirts and stationary, the balance said they spend most dollars on event sponsorships and print or online campaigns.
Also of interest, 51 percent of companies allocate less than $5000 per year for marketing – not a significantly high amount. Therefore, companies that choose to spend a few more marketing dollars are likely to get much more exposure than their competitors.
The key to a company’s success in any economy, no matter what the experts call it, is to make sure its reputation and qualifications remain top of mind among peers and existing clients when project opportunities arise.