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Archive for December, 2008

I wrote about this in my last post, about how this is the time of the year when, even in good times, the construction industry starts to slow down. With the industry already at a slower pace, I believe we may be experiencing the calm before the storm. Sadly, the storm will probably not be gale force winds of new business blowing our way but rather the storm of having to make tough decisions on how to maintain.

I took a call this week from a general contractor who, until now, has never marketed. When I speak with anyone and the discussion turns to ways to build new business, one of the first questions I ask is, “How do you currently market your services?” When the answer is “We don’t.” and they have been in business for more than five years, I take that as a good thing as far as the quality of service they deliver.

The bad part about the “We don’t.” answer is that, and here comes another golf analogy, it is much like someone calling me for a golf lesson saying, “I have a huge prospect that I want to impress and we are going to play golf next week and I need a lesson.” (This has happened.)

Me: “How long have you been playing golf?”

Them: “I don’t.”

The bottom line is one does not suddenly become a successful marketer of their company any sooner than one decides to play golf in a manner that will impress a golf playing prospect. They both take time, skill and effort.

I was going to entitle this entry “Lose Weight! 30 Pounds In A Week, Guaranteed!”

It is pretty close to impossible to buy anything at a major grocery store without reading a similar headline near the check-out counter. Is it possible to lose 30 pounds in a week? Absolutely! I believe if I were to cut off my left leg, I would indeed be at least 30 pounds lighter but the repercussions would not be worth it.

The point is, there are no sure-fire, quick and long term ways to lose weight nor are there any sure-fire, quick and long term ways to build new business. For long term, successful and lasting results, they both take time and a steady effort.

Use this down time to review your entire marketing processes. If you don’t have any, create some. Bounce those ideas off of people in your network or in your leads group.

Don’t have a leads group? Start one.

Don’t know how? Email me.

When I was doing business development on a retainer basis, I tracked certain leads for 18 months before we were able to submit a proposal. These things take time and unless you want to keep your estimators busy pricing government work, now is the time to start working towards that negotiated contract, where you are one of two or three companies being considered, by focusing on ways to improve your current marketing efforts.

I will close with a bit of a precursor for my next entry. When I am asked what my company does, believe it or not, I sometimes use a golf analogy.

Tiger Woods is arguably the greatest golf who ever lived and yet, he has three golf coaches. Can any one of those three instructors beat him in a round of 18 holes? No way! But what they can do is look for things in his stance, how he addresses the ball, his grip, his putting stroke, etc. for small ways to tweak what he is doing for ways to improve.

Now is the time to consider doing the same…but you may want to hurry, I hear there may be a storm coming.

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Bobby Darnell is the founder and Principal of Construction Market Consultants, Inc. An Atlanta based management consulting group specializing in business development, sales, marketing and profitability as well as executive placement for the Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry.

http://www.cmconl.com/

Bobby can be reached at bobbydarnell@cmconl.com

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Naturally, when I sit down to write I try to think of a title for each entry that has ‘headline’ appeal (Makes you want to read more) and is pertinent to the topic at hand. So, I guess I better get busy and explain myself before people start knocking on my door wanting me to invest in the next big thing.

What do I have in common with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates? Is it billions of dollars? No, not yet any way.

What I, you and everyone else has in common with the two richest men in the world is that each day we all wake up and have the same amount of time. Bill and Warren’s days are no longer than yours or mine.

We are in the season for construction where, even in good times, things slow down. ‘Back in the day’ at CMD (Construction Market Data) the time between now and the first of the year saw fewer reports in each weekly issue of the Bulletin. Seasonally, construction slows down due to weather in some areas and the week between Christmas and New Years…things really, really slowed down.

So, here we find ourselves in a certified recession, construction at a near stand still and now we are coasting into the deadest time of the year. What do we do?

I took a call today from a business development person doing a little networking and he mentioned how slow things are on his end as they were wrapping up four projects with nothing new on the horizon. I took a call yesterday from a regional subcontractor who just lost their major client and was really in a pinch. I met with a building product manufacturer this morning and he wanted to know what his sales staff should be doing.

If you have read my blog before, you will know that I am a big believer in (1) everyone in a company is in sales and (2) never stop looking for new ways to do things better, smarter and faster.

In my entry ‘Magic & Sushi – Parts 1 & 2’ I talk about how one should look at situations differently and try to see a new way to get things accomplished, that was the ‘Magic’ part and to be willing to try something new, that was the ‘Sushi’ part.

One of the biggest ‘ah-ha’ moments of my career was about 15 years ago when all the upper level managers were taking a time management course. This was before Palms, PDA’s and Blackberrys. The course came with a large, leather, three-ring binder, expensive charts and forms which I thought was completely ridiculous. It was almost a ‘Star Belly Sneetches’ kind of thing…for the Dr. Suess fans amongst us.

Finally, I caved, took the course and got my own huge binder. However, this time, I once again, ‘tasted the sushi’ and loved it. What I learned in that course was, and still is, one of the best investments I have made…even though I did not have to pay for it.

If you find yourself with extra time on your hands, look around for some opportunities to invest that time that will pay off when things pick back up. Take a look at a Dale Carnegie course; create your own leads group; attend a lecture on marketing; see about visiting a local SMPS chapter meeting.

Have a brain-storming session with your staff; get organized; do some ‘spring cleaning’ in December; review your business plan if you have one, get one if you don’t; create an action plan; review your collateral material; update your case study inserts; ask someone to critique your website; hold a contest so see how many ideas you can come up with to save money; give the winner a dinner at your favorite special occasion restaurant, a gift card or just good ole cash.

The thing is, do something!

Ask yourself this, what is the number one thing your company needs right now? What ever that is…start doing it and don’t stop until it is done.

At the end of the day, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, you and I will all go to sleep having had the same amount of time. Finances aside, what separates each of us is what we do with that time.

——————–

Bobby Darnell is the founder and Principal of Construction Market Consultants, Inc. An Atlanta based management consulting group specializing in business development, sales, marketing and profitability as well as executive placement for the Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry.

http://www.cmconl.com

Bobby can be reached at bobbydarnell@cmconl.com

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