Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for January, 2009

One of the first things I became aware of years ago is that when you introduce yourself, or are introduced, as a business development consultant for the construction industry, people will, for the most part, want to know what exactly that means. Even if they are choking on work they still seem to enjoy chatting, looking for any pearl of wisdom that they can tuck away for later.

At first, all of our early contracts were about one thing, increasing select pricing opportunities and revenue. After getting to know some great contractors, architects and subcontractors, building trust, learning more about how each company operates we began to grow beyond just increasing revenues but focusing also on keeping revenues.

Never forget: It is not how much you make, it is how much you keep.

Today there are several formal methodologies for maintaining what is commonly known as ‘best practices’ and I won’t deliver any new, earth shattering techniques here but I would like you to meet Ludwig, a ‘friend’ of mine.

Before I introduce Ludwig, let me share with you how I came to know him. One of my hobbies since my first year in college has been studying philosophy and that is how I came to know Ludwig. (Don’t worry, this is still about business.)

Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein was an Austrian-British philosopher who supported the premise that there is no such thing as a true disagreement, just a discussion improperly defined. That understanding has proven to be one of the most profound lessons I have learned in business and beyond.

Example: Suppose you and I were to discuss who the greatest golfer of all time was. I argue for Tiger Woods, you argue for Jack Nicklaus. Wittgenstein would tell you that we could argue until the cows came home but until we defined what we meant by ‘the world’s greatest golfer’ we would never come to the same conclusion.

Once we defined that term, we would have no choice to end up agreeing. Hold that thought.

Last week, I took a call from a large, regional subcontractor who signed an agreement with a sub-subcontractor to help with a specific project. As he was describing where ‘things went wrong’ he listed several and one of the main ‘sticking points’ was the lead rep for the company submitted an enormous amount of expenses for reimbursement.

I asked the caller was this part of their agreement to which he replied in the affirmative. I then asked what expenses did he agree to cover and his answer was ‘all related expenses.’ I then asked him to define what he meant by ‘all related expenses.’ He was not able to adequately define that term which was the loose pebble that started the avalanche.

‘Will cover all related expenses’ is about as useful as bid documents saying ‘repair where necessary.’

Process improvement must involve a continuous and ongoing awareness of many things and chief among these would be defining the terms; If is it a scope change, employment agreement, job description or something as simple as what expenses shall be reimbursed.

Part of what excites me about working with new clients is not just how I believe we are able to help them but how much I can learn in the process as well. Each time I do not properly define a term and it costs me, I try to take that new found wisdom to make the next time better. It is much like what Tiger Woods recently said in an interview:

“The greatest thing about tomorrow is, I will be better than I am today. And that’s how I look at my life. I will be better as a golfer, I will be better as a person, I will be better as a father, I will be a better husband, I will be better as a friend. That’s the beauty of tomorrow. There is no such thing as a setback. The lessons I learn today I will apply tomorrow, and I will be better.”

I am unashamedly and unapologetically passionate about business, capitalism and the free-enterprise system. Each day I try to learn something that will make me a better person, husband, father and businessman.

Continue to hone your processes and defining your terms in ways to make things better, which will translate into better revenues, better profits and a better business.

In closing, to keep Ludwig happy…

Bet ▪ ter – adj. 1: more advantageous or effective 2: improved in accuracy or performance

——————–

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

Definition provided by: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/better

Read Full Post »

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to today’s main event.

In this corner, Probable…

And in this corner, Possible. “Touch gloves and let the fight begin!”

*Ding!*. . . Boom!….Flump!

Wait! What? It’s over? The fight is over?

The fight wasn’t even close… first round knock-out with Probable sending Possible to mat in record time.

What, you may ask, are you talking about? Allow me to explain. Today’s entry is all about the difference between probable, that which is likely to occur, and possible, that which may occur.

When the economy slows businesses have a natural tendency to shift from going after work that is probable and leaning towards opportunities that are possible. Mainly because the probable work opportunities are less than what they use to be.

That temptation is natural and understandable but yet, allow me to encourage you not to stray too far in seeking ways to possibly bring in new revenue.

Allow me to give you a real world example:

Follow my advice here and I guarantee you will make at least one million dollars. It is a proven formula and everyone who has done it has made, at the very least, one million dollars.

It does not require any heavy lifting. You can do this from the comfort of you home, riding down the road, sitting on an airplane, sitting on the beach, pretty much anywhere.

You do not need a computer, Internet, laser printer, wireless network.

All you have to do is this…(Drum roll please)

Write a song that goes to number one for at least 10 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. That’s it! That is all you have to do to become a millionaire!

Possible? Oh yes.

Probable? Sorry, not very.

The thing to remember is that there are people and/or companies out there that need your service. They just may not be as visible as before. Instead of losing focus on the probable and succumbing to the possible, focus your energies on doing a better job of finding those probable opportunities.

An architectural firm with a 20+ year history of designing large industrial distribution centers and manufacturing facilities will probably not win the commission to design a medium sized worship facility when going against the medium sized design firm who has a 20+ year history, and portfolio, of primarily churches, synagogues and temples.

Is it possible the larger firm can design a new church? Oh yes.

Is it probable they will get the business? Sorry, not very.

Yes, times are tough but when it comes to marketing your services, like the old saying ‘Dance with the one that brought you.’

Finally, I am definitely not saying one should never branch out, look for new revenue streams, new opportunities to partner, new service or product offerings. Just make sure they make sense and you don’t find yourself trying to pay the bills, sitting under a tree somewhere trying to rhyme ‘spoon’, ‘June’ and ‘moon’ for the debut single, on the debut album, of the next American Idol winner.

——————–

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

Read Full Post »

Who does not love an underdog story where grit, determination and heart propel the challenger to the status of a champion? For many, athletic figures and sports stories immediately come to mind when discussing such but I believe there are many more, though lesser known, examples in the world of business.

I personally know several business owners who, against huge odds, have stuck out their necks, took the road less traveled and succeeded in ways above and beyond even their own initial expectations. Of course, this is not limited to just business owners but employees as well…such as the person wanting to move from operations with a career path ‘safe and secure’ into the tumultuous world of sales. There was plenty of doubt from others he would have a successful transition but he never doubted for a second.

A ship is safest in the harbor, but that is not what ships are for. – William Shedd

As we begin a New Year, if one was to pay too much attention to the headlines, it would be easy to start each day with a less than positive attitude. Do we ignore the headlines? No way. Just give them enough consideration to help you realize that in these times you may have to work both smarter and harder.

I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination. – Jimmy Dean

One of my main sources of inspiration is Og Mandino’s wonderful book, ‘The Greatest Salesman In The World’ and more specifically, for times like these, ‘Chapter Ten – The Scroll Marked III” where we learn to persist until we succeed. (More on this book at the very end*.)

Always will I take another step. If that is of no avail I will take another, and yet another. In truth, one step at a time is not too difficult.

I will persist until I succeed. – Og Mandino

In many ways, a new year is a new beginning. We are pushed to make resolutions to do this and that which is all fine and well but in business, each January carries with it each December’s cash flow and while we may make new resolutions, they must incorporate yesterday’s reality.

Plan your work and work your plan. – Unknown

There are many reasons to be concerned about 2009 but I believe there are many more reasons to be excited. I am not talking about walking blindly into tomorrow with nothing but a smile and some ‘bumper sticker’ sayings but more of an excitement born from an attitude of overcoming and achieving.

As I a child, I would often fall asleep to the sound of my parent’s music, a stack of vinyl LPs on the Motorola dispensing the wonderful tunes of Eddy Arnold, Nat King Cole, Perry Como and others. It was at that early age when I began to become a fan of lyrics and, in closing, I will take this opportunity to quote Mr. Como:

You better accentuate the positive,
Eliminate the negative,
An’ latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-between!

Happy New Year everyone! Let’s go make some money.

——————–

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

*I will send a hardback copy of Og’s book to the first person to email me with their idea for accentuating the positive for 2009

Read Full Post »