December 2009: Business Building

Words: George Hedley

altBusiness Building

Do you often stress about increasing sales as available opportunities shrinks, and the competition increases? Most companies try to work harder in tough times. But the best they can do is hope to stay even, doing the same things they always have done. The truly successful contractors and suppliers do things differently from their competition to get ahead. They go the extra mile. They do more than their competition. They provide more than the minimum per plans and specifications they are contracted to perform. They do more to get more, and this gives them a competitive edge and gets them more signed contracts.

41 extra things I want

As a general contractor, I get asked what more I want or expect from my subcontractors and suppliers. My long list includes the following:

  1. Be a friendly team player

  2. Provide competitive, fair and consistent pricing

  3. On-time, accurate and complete bids and proposals

  4. Educate my estimator about the options available

  5. On-time delivery of supplies and materials

  6. On-time submittals and shop drawings

  7. Know the business of contracting

  8. Be professional, look sharp, and act first class

  9. Return your phone calls within 30 minutes

  10. Have a regular time you can be reached every day

  11. Use email for everyday correspondence

  12. Use digital cameras to send photos of job issues

  13. Do your own project clean-up every day

  14. Know construction contracts and do what they say

  15. Be well funded and have adequate working capital

  16. Charge the right price on change orders

  17. Always include proper backup on invoices

  18. Visit jobsites before you are called

  19. Stay ahead of job schedules

  20. Never create down time for our crews

  21. Don’t bid jobs you can’t handle

  22. Never delay jobs with lack of manpower

  23. Do your own punch-list before we do it for you

  24. Provide responsible, decision-making, English-speaking foreman

  25. Have a professional, ongoing safety program

  26. Don’t over-bill and front-end-load invoices

  27. Have the same salesperson/estimator who is friendly, positive, in our office every week, quick, knowledgeable, not a pest, and anticipates our needs

  28. Be someone who helps us sell??

  29. Bring us lots of leads

  30. Pick up plans and return them timely

  31. Suggest other subcontractors and suppliers

  32. Recommend architects, engineers, bankers, real estate agents, insurance and bonding agents

  33. Keep us stocked with up-to-date product literature and samples

  34. Take us golfing or to lunch with potential customers

  35. Provide subscriptions to industry trade publications

  36. Invite us to industry association meetings??

  37. Have a great Web site with product information, technical materials, engineering data, and up-to-date industry standards

  38. Invest in our development projects

  39. Bring us joint venture and equity partners

  40. Tell us what we can do to improve and make a profit

  41. Give me great front row Lakers tickets!

Providing the minimum at the lowest cost will continue to get you marginal, low-profit work. But to get the results you really want, you’ve got to do more. Consider implementing a few of these pro-active ideas and get more than the minimum.

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