Archive for February, 2010

Welcome to 2010!

No, this is not an entry on the three most important aspects of real estate but, I am borrowing this item after meeting with two business owners seeking to ‘reinvent’ themselves for 2010. Naturally, both are involved in the A/E/C marketplace, both have been very successful since starting their business and both have been profoundly impacted by the state of our current economy.

Way back when Jack Nicklaus was the undisputed king of golf, he would start out every season with his golf coach by reviewing the fundamentals…how to grip the club, proper stance, etc. When I first became aware of this, I found it pretty amazing and close to unbelievable. Here we have the greatest golfer in the world, having his instructor show him how to hold a golf club. Jack would then go through all the fundamentals of his swing…his stance, his take-back, the club alignment at the top of his swing, the down swing and the follow through.

While I cannot think of a better time for companies to be considering additional ways to build new business, I can also not think of a better time to review the fundamentals of how you got to where you are.

So, what does this have to do with the famous, ‘Three Most Important Factors about Real Estate’? If you are indeed one who is working on the 2.0 version of either yourself or your business, never forget or lose focus on the ‘critical mass’ that got you where you are today.

When I am approached by a prospective client, to get a better understanding of their needs, I typically make a few simple inquiries, one for example: Tell me, categorically speaking, what are the top five groups of your client base and how much does each represent of your total revenue? Rarely do I get an immediate answer.

Something as fundamental as being able to define your clients as ‘A, B, or C’ where ‘A’ represents 40% of your revenue while ‘B’, 25% and C 20% with the rest being several smaller components of ‘D’ is the business owner’s equivalent of ‘griping the golf club.’ when it comes to target marketing.

Location, Location, Location refers to not just real estate. If you don’t know the ‘location’ of your top three types of clients, then how in the world are you going to be able to effectively troll those waters for new business?

I have had some conversations with business owners that remind me of the old joke about the guy searching for his lost wallet under the streetlight. A stranger walks by, asks the man what he is looking for and then decides to help. After somewhat lengthy and futile search the stranger asks, “Are you sure you lost your wallet under this streetlight?” The response he gets is, “Oh no, I did not lose it here but the light is so much brighter, I figure It would be easier to find.”

Never stop looking for new ways to increase revenue but if you are an architect, engineer, general contractor, sub-contractor or building product manufacturer (the categorical breakdown of our client base) I would not consider adding baking cakes, chauffer services or pet sitting to your menu of ways to build new business. Review the fundamentals of how you got to where you are, know your clients and get creative. Just don’t stray too far from where you ‘lost your revenue’ and start looking in places you shouldn’t just because the light there is better.

Location – Are you able to readily identify your competitive geographical area?

Location – Are you able to readily identify your ‘critical mass’ prospects by category?

Location – Are you able to readily identify your marketing success? (Turning prospects into clients)

Now, the first two are probably easier to ‘locate’ but the third may require a bit more digging. Here is where I refer back to my entry on CRM. I honestly believe the single biggest area of opportunity companies over look when it comes to resources for building new business is how they manage/mis-manage their data.

I can actually think of a couple of more ‘locations’ worth identifying but choose to focus on these three for now. With margins tighter than ever, new opportunities as scarce as ever, quality data becomes that much more important.

Do you need to get a new ‘grip’ on the basics such as your prospects, your clients, your pricing structure? There is no better time than now to start shoring up this very important aspect of your business.

If you are going to play golf on Friday, you check the weather forecast. If you are a buying a stock, you check past performance. If you are buying a new washing machine, you look at ‘Consumers Reports’.

Is your own company’s knowledge base too close to skid row or is it a penthouse with a view of the mountains?


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.


Bobby can be reached at bobbydarnell [at] cmconl.com

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