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Archive for the ‘Sales & Marketing’ Category

I am happy to report that this month, our little company Construction Market Consultants, Inc. is ten years old. That’s all I wanted to say about that; I just realized this a few weeks ago and thought I would share it in my next post…and now, on to your regularly scheduled blog.

I have written many times, finding ways to weave an analogy about golf and business mainly because I believe such mentions help create a pretty decent word picture. When asked what we do, a quick answer is that we are very much like a golf coach for your business. We come in, take a look at your ‘game’ and help you enhance what is working and correct and improve what is not.

So here we go again with one more golf to business/business to golf illustration.

One can learn a lot of useful information for both their golf game and their business from blogs, articles, newsletters, etc. I remember one of the most profound tips I ever received for my golf game came while waiting to get a haircut. It was a simple, one-page item about the difference between missing a putt on the ‘amateur’ side versus the pro side. Some may know what this means but if you are one that doesn’t and are curious, let me know.

I do believe there comes a time when one should consider seeking some customized answers. One size may fit all for hotel robes but not so much when it comes to building new business. I do love reading articles which such headlines as ‘Five Techniques To Increase Sales ’That Start With The Letter ‘M’. (I am actually writing one as we speak.) However, not everyone is selling the same product or service and they are not selling to the same group of prospects. Sometimes, a little customization is in order.

There are definitely some universal truths that will help anyone’s game but every now and then, consider calling your ‘local pro’ and ask for a lesson.
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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.

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

http://www.cmconl.com

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There was a time when I was a fairly decent resource for all that was ‘technology’…however, that was many, many moons ago. I like to think I am a bit above the curve for some things, and I am learning more every day, but I still am surrounded by people who are bona fide experts and call upon their knowledge when I know I am faced with a task that is beyond my reach.

That said, I do know what binary is and how it relates to computers. I find it fascinating when I see a software program or application that does some amazing things and realize that all a computer can really do is add 1 and 0.

With the beginning of a new year, I believe it deserves our personal consideration to be a bit more ‘binary’ as we look at our current efforts to build new business. Now, before we begin, please do not misinterpret what I am about to say as me believing all things are either black or white. This is only a test. Please ‘circle’ the appropriate response.

Q: Do you have a bona fide, you can reach in a drawer, put your hands on, marketing plan for 2011?
A: Yes or No

Q: Was your bona fide, 2010 marketing plan effective?
A: Yes or No

Q: All of your employees are aware of and support your marketing plan?
A: Yes or No

See the pattern we are developing here?

Sure, one could answer the above questions with, “Kind of” or “Sort of” but for this exercise, those responses do not compute. There is no better time than the beginning of a new year to be more decisive in what you will do to build new business for the next 12 months.

In closing, will you take a few moments to sit down, review your business development, sales and marketing strategy and see if you need to upgrade or are happy with the results of your current model? Circle one please.

A: Yes or No.

Remember, goals that are not written down are just wishes.

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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.

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

www.cmconl.com

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Back in the day, when I loved going to shows and had far fewer responsibilities than today, there was nothing like seeing ‘The Boss’ in concert. For those who have witnessed his show, you know you leave feeling as if you have climbed a very large hill, wind in your face.

For those who only know Mr. Springsteen’s music through the airwaves or via their favorite music playing machine, you really should consider seeing him live. More than likely, you will leave thinking that if the Olympics ever included rock and roll as an event, it is easily conceivable that Bruce Springsteen and the ‘E Street’ Band would win gold, silver and bronze.

That said, I remember one of the times he played in Atlanta, after a few songs, he stopped to greet the crowd, “How’s it going Chattanooga!?” Some good natured ‘Boos’ followed and he was quickly told he was in Atlanta. I remember thinking, how silly is that!? How could someone not know what city they are in? I mean, I am sure the tour is hectic but his days of lifting equipment; loading and unloading are/were way, way behind him.

Fast forward a few years and I one day find that I am assigned a rather large, ‘rock and roll’ task. Because of a very large initiative, and the debut of a new company within our stable, I was tapped to create, write and deliver a one hour presentation on how to introduce this new product to architectural firms.

My agenda was simple…do this presentation at all 12 of our major branch offices in five days.

As memory serves me, the schedule was:

Monday – San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco

Tuesday – Denver, Kansas City, Dallas

Wednesday – Chicago, Boston

Thursday – Washington DC, Atlanta

Friday – Tampa, Orlando

Just revisiting this schedule in my mind makes me tired. But, in those days, the potency of the ‘piss and vinegar’ running through my veins was definitely of a higher proof than today. In spite of all the eagerness and enthusiasm that I packed with me on this ‘whirlwind tour’, I did indeed find myself, in the back of a cab, wondering what city I was in. As soon as I reached for my itinerary, I remembered that Springsteen concert and thought to myself, “Wow, I don’t know what city I am in!”

Since those days, I have yet to find myself in the same situation. However, from time to time, in spite of my best OCD efforts to keep a well maintained scheduled and prioritized task list, I have had to take pause and focus on which way is up. For me, the end of the year is a great time to not only take a personal inventory of accomplishments and goals but for my business as well.

As we see 2010 draw upon a close and the wheels of commerce coast to a stop for another year, I hope you have fared well during this time of economic uncertainty and, from a business perspective, realized that if it did not kill you, it made you stronger.

Finally, while I publically apologize to Mr. Springsteen for my thoughts on his confusing Chattanooga with Atlanta, I also offer my most sincere wishes that you are able to build new business in 2011 to unprecedented heights.

Merry Christmas and here’s to a safe, happy and prosperous new year.

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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.

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

www.cmconl.com

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Back in the saddle is a good place to be!

My last post was more than a while ago and I did share with everyone how I was involved in an auto accident that put me on the sidelines for a while. Between physical therapy and having to have an operation, plus keep up with my ‘day job’, I have not had much time to write. That has changed.

One of the things I learned while I was trying to sneak in trips to the doctor and to P.T., was just how much I took for granted my ability to walk downstairs to my office each day and how much I truly am addicted to what I do. (Business-wise that is.)

I set as my goal, way back when, that I would retire at age 40. I had a Finance professor who taught Federal Finance (The Federal Reserve, etc.) and he did just that. On our last day of class, he said he wanted to thank us for being such a great group of students and that this was his final class as he was retiring.

To make a long story short, and to definitely date myself, my professor invested in real estate in the Athens, GA area, begin pyramiding his properties for several years and within a six month time frame, liquidated everything, netted after taxes, just north of $2,000,000. He bought a condo in south Florida and munis with the rest. That, I told myself, would be my plan.

Well, fast forward and the closest I ever came to that would be when my former company was sold, the new owners told ‘old timers’ like me to hit the road and I had six months severance and they had to purchase my stock. I was in no hurry to get a job. I told my wife, I was going to take six weeks and do nothing but play golf.

That lasted about three days.

I started going ‘crazy’ and then decided that I would make my job to find a new job. I would go to my home office at 8:00 AM and search for my next opportunity until 5:00 PM. Fortunately, at the same time, I started Construction Market Consultants, Inc. and have loved what I do ever since.

Why does Donald Trump, Warren Buffett, Larry Ellison, Steve Jobs still put in the hours they do? Because they love what they do.

I have since changed my mantra from my days in business school. I never want to retire. Sure, I have lofty financial goals that would put me in a position so I would not have to work, but rather would want to work. Yes, my IRA is not where it used to be but I am not that concerned. I am addicted to churning the wheels of commerce and am so grateful that I get to wake up each day and participate in the free enterprise system.

In spite of loving what I do, don’t let me kid you, there are, to quote Jimmy Buffett, ‘Good days and bad days and going half-mad days.’ without a doubt. I am more than ready for 2010 to be a part of history. However, there is nothing like savoring a successful RFP or to be referred a nice piece of business that helps sooth the aches and pains from pulling the crank and seeing three lemons time and time again.

Next time, I will address something more specifically pertaining to building new business. Today, I wanted to remind everyone that if you too are ready for 2011, to just keep on hanging on and if no one else decides to participate, let’s just us turn things around in spite of the doomsayers! Being the week of Thanksgiving, I am willing to bet that even the most beleaguered businesses still has things to be thankful for.

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone and know that of all the many things I am thankful for, those who take time to read my ramblings are definitely on that list.

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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.

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

http://www.cmconl.com

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Everyone,

Sorry for the lack of activity but I hit a snag about a month ago on a business trip.

To make a long story short, I was involved in a head-on auto collision (Not my fault), was knocked out, woke up in the ambulance, got a CT Scan at emergency room, was told as I was checking out, “Oh yea…by the way, we found a golf ball sized tumor in your neck, you need to get that checked.”

We had it biopsied, inconclusive.

Radio-active medical scan, inconclusive.

So, last week they went in and got it…thankfully, it was benign.

That said, I am back in the saddle and ready to churn the wheels of commerce once again! I did a webinar yesterday for a company called Elevation Research Group and was very happy with the results. It was on, what else? Building New Business for Architects.

I trust all is well and enjoying cooler temps. I hope to post some good stuff shortly so in the mean time, keep on churning!

Bobby

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Way back when, in my college days, I became very interested in investing in real estate. Those were the days when one would have found it a challenge to flip through the channels on television and not have seen some ‘guru’ hawking their real estate, home study course.

It was during this time when I first heard the phrase; ‘A Win-Win Situation’ and ‘Win-Win Negotiating’. Of course, the philosophy behind the headline is that in such a situation or negotiation, both parties win. What a concept!

I believe that, unless one has a gun pointed at their head, any time two parties agree and sign their name on the proverbial dotted line, how can it not be a win-win deal?

The past few months, I have found myself dealing with a new type of business situation which I shall call a ‘Win When?’ scenario.

I have recently worked with two clients; both on bringing new product and service offerings to market…both are involved in the construction industry. Both situations have reminded me of my father’s oft repeated line; “If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing right.”

Both situations have also prompted me to add to that with this: “If a job is worth starting, it is worth completing.”

In construction there is also the famous edict; “Measure twice, cut once.”

I constantly have to remind, not only my clients, but also myself, that the tried and true rule is not: “Measure six dozen times, think about cutting, hold meetings on the cutting process, deliberate on the cutting process and then go back to measuring.”

Do not misunderstand me, I am not ‘dissing’ planning, so much as I am promoting execution. That said, I believe I am in good company.

“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” – Peter Drucker

“A good battle plan that you act on today can be better than a perfect one tomorrow.” – General George S. Patton.

“Git ‘r done!” – Larry the Cable Guy

Specifically, what I am talking about is all the planning in the world needs to point to a specific goal with a specific deadline providing a specific result.

Take pause for a moment and answer the following:

“What is the single most important thing I need to achieve for my business?

“When do I need to achieve this?”

“How will I achieve this?”

There, business planning in a nutshell.

We all want to win; we all want to build new business, we all want to see our revenue and margins increase but are we spending too much time find sanding the widget or are we putting it in the showroom window with a ‘For Sale’ sign on it and moving on to build the next one?

I am afraid I have worked with, and talked to, far too many people who appear to be far more endeared to the idea of playing business owner than being a business owner. Times are tough and time is valuable. More now than ever, focus on what will take you to your next big ‘win’ and know ‘when’ that will happen.

Do that and I believe you will find yourself in your very own win-win situation.

———————–

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

http://www.cmconl.com

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Today is the Fourth of July.

While I will be attending the annual Darnell Family picnic and fireworks extravaganza, I will not be celebrating the ‘Fourth of July’.

I will however be celebrating Independence Day.

Now, for those who think I may be splitting hairs in game of semantics, allow me to explain. In Iran, North Vietnam, Syria and Cuba…they have a Fourth of July. Today we celebrate Independence.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Apart from topics of eternal themes, my family and friends, there is absolutely nothing I am more passionate about than my daily participation in free market capitalism. My daily engagement in building new business for Construction Market Consultants and for our clients has been made possible by those brave men who set the stage for this country to truly be the land of opportunity.

Have a great, safe, fun weekend everyone. After the holiday, it is back to churning the wheels of commerce and our pursuit of happiness.

Thanks for reading…

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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.

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

http://www.cmconl.com

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Having played guitar since I was a youngster, I have developed a deep appreciation for guitar players. Once, a friend asked me, “What is the difference between you and Sonny Lallerstedt?” (More on Sonny in a moment.) I replied, “I play guitar, Sonny is a guitar player.”

I could regale you, if you are a music fan, with Sonny Lallerstedt stories for the entire blog but I will make a point before I am done. Sonny is one of the best friends I have ever had, and without a doubt the most talented musician I have ever known. He played Phil Keaggy’s ‘Wedding In The Country Manor’ at our wedding, has played on hundreds of albums from Elton John down to people no one has ever heard of and he is as humble as he is gifted.

A couple of quick examples of Sonny’s musical abilities:

– When Sonny was 12 years old, he could play any song on the radio by Chet Atkins (His major guitar influence)

– Sonny has perfect pitch. You can put a guitar tuner in front of him, ask him to sing a ‘C’ and the tuner will indicate a spot on ‘C’.

– I was in his recording studio once when he was working on a project for the ‘Miss South Carolina’ beauty pageant; they were making a track of ‘New York, New York’. He had six horn players, all partitioned from each other but still playing/recording at the same time.

After they finished, Sonny had to point out to one of the horn players that at a certain measure, he played a ‘F’ instead of a ‘G’. Obviously, the trumpet player asked to hear the playback. Sonny ‘punched out’ all the rest of the horns so we would only be hearing the player in question and sure enough, the mistake was obvious.

There are so many other examples I could share but the bottom line is I have been very blessed to have so many experts at so many things among my circle of friends. When I am buying a new guitar, piece of equipment or whatever, I always ask Sonny’s input first.

Now, back to business; when Eddie Van Halen came on the scene, the tones he got out of his home-made, Fender ‘Stratocaster’ copy guitar were amazing. I once mentioned to Sonny how I would love to play Eddie’s guitar to get those sounds. He replied that it would sound different if I played it. (He was not just talking about the vast talent gap either.) That thought never left my mind.

When I got the idea for his blog, I dropped Sonny an email just to make sure I remembered this conversation correctly, that if I picked up Eddie Van Halen’s guitar, played it, it would sound differently. Sonny’s reply was:

You’re right! Everybody has a different touch. We might get close to the sound, but the little things that each of us does makes a difference.

This was good news for me. First, I would not have to abandon my idea for this blog and secondly, my memory may not be as bad as I feared.

As we try to build new business, we are inundated with solutions, tools, opportunities and experts all offering help. I have no doubt that we can all learn something…even from a blog like mine! The thing to remember is when you hear someone say “This is the way to do this.” or “This is the way to do that.” each one of us, no matter how closely we follow the recipe, will have a different result because of, just like Sonny said, we all have a different touch.

It you play guitar or are a guitar player and you want to improve…read a book, attend a seminar/webinar or even better, take a personal lesson that will help you develop your unique touch. What may be comfortable for me to say in front of a building committee will be different than what you would feel comfortable saying. If you are in charge of growing revenue and/or increasing profits for your company, I believe the same holds true.

There are many solutions out there that will help you grow your company, just remember that one size doesn’t necessarily fit all. Or, one ‘sound’ doesn’t fit all.

Post Script – I want to thank Chris Hill for his guest post last time. Chris is an incredible resource and his blog, ‘Construction Law Musings’ is the best law blog I have read.

Also, if you want to see a very short clip, less than a minute, of Sonny:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22tMBjerRdk

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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.

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

www.cmconl.com

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Today, I am taking a big ‘risk’ and letting Christopher Hill pinch hit as a guest blogger here on ‘Building New Business’. When I say taking a ‘risk’, I mean get ready for a real writer and excellent blogger!

I have gotten to know Chris in the past year and a half through his wonderful blog ‘Construction Law Musings’, via email and Twitter and his blog is the reason I did not want to enter any ‘Best Blog’ contest. I am a big fan of his and have learned a great deal from him and I am confident you will as well.

So, without further ado…Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Christopher Hill.

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As I left a mediation last week at 8:30 at night, I realized something that I knew all along. Mediation works.

Why does mediation work? For several reasons that I can think of.

The first, and likely most important is that lawyers are expensive. In most construction cases, we charge by the hour and those hours build up, especially close to a trial date. A mediated settlement can avoid this sharp uptick in attorney fees that always occurs in the last month before trial. Therefore the earlier the better.

The second is the flexibility to make a business decision. Commercial contractors and subcontractors are in a business, and they should be making business decisions. While one such decision can be to go to litigation; litigation is not always the best solution from a financial, or stress perspective. Construction professionals, with the assistance of construction attorneys, can come up with a creative way to deal with a problem and solve it.

While sometimes trial is inevitable (yes, even with a mediation), mediation allows for more options. At trial, someone wins and someone loses. A judge must pick sides and leave someone (and possibly both sides) unhappy. Then there are appeals, collections, and other expensive issues to deal with. Mediation allows compromise and allows the parties to agree to terms that the Court (or arbitration for that matter) could not give them. Add to this the opportunity costs of protracted litigation and the idea seems to be a no brainer.

The third is that a contractor can leave a mediation satisfied that they took part in the process and in controlling their own fate. Let’s face it, litigation is a foriegn world for most construction professionals. Once that call is made to their lawyer, the process can seem to be out of their hands, and in many ways it is. A good mediator can change that. While the compromise may not result in complete satisfaction, trial can, and often does result in dissatisfaction. At least with mediation, one can feel as if he was in some control and not on a headlong charge to oblivion without a way to put on the breaks.

Don’t get me wrong, mediation must be approached with a spirit of compromise and sometimes starting litigation is the only way to get there. If the parties aren’t committed to the process, no settlement can occur. Mediation does not work all the time, particularly if the parties present hurdles to the process.

In short, while litigation has its place and I am a construction attorney with the experience to pursue a case from start to finish, I would much rather help the contractors and subcontractors I represent continue to make money and avoid the stress, expense and monetary cost of litigation through contract review and mediation where possible. This is for one simple reason, mediation works.

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Christopher Hill is a LEED AP and construction attorney in Richmond, VA. Chris is a member of Virginia’s Legal Elite in Construction Law and authors the Construction Law Musings blog. Please feel free to contact Chris through his blog or on Twitter at @constructionlaw.

Please check out Chris’s Construction Law Musings Blog for more on Virginia construction law and other topics.

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Through the years, I have been a member or an associate member of many trade organizations and have to admit, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in each and everyone. Color me a ‘geek’ but I love networking, learning new aspects of our industry and attending tradeshows. My involvement in these organizations has afforded me many opportunities to indulge in all three.

A few years back, I received a call from one of my mentors, an incredibly successful real estate developer and owner of a large REIT. (Real Estate Investment Trust) Charles asked me if I would not mind meeting a friend of his just to talk and hash out ideas. Charles explained to me how he met James at Harvard’s MBA program and they, both being successful serial entrepreneurs, have stayed in touch through the years.

I met James for breakfast to discuss a company he is involved with and how they could build new business within the A/E/C marketplace. During our conversation, James introduced me to an Enterprise Forum that he chaired and invited me to attend one of their local meetings. I jumped at the chance and it proved to be, without a doubt, one of the most influential gatherings I have ever attended.

The night I arrived, I felt very much like a student attending fraternity rush on my own. The room was filled with some amazing people but the moment I walked in, one of the greeters introduced himself and asked me what I did. When I replied with, “I am Bobby Darnell and I have a small consultancy group that does business development, sales and marketing consulting for the A/E/C marketing place.” he grabbed me by the arm and said, “You need to meet Mike.” and proceeded to lead me across the vast room and introduced me to Mike.

After chatting with Mike for a few minutes, I learned that he just recently sold his construction company and was looking for something new to get involved with. (I later learned that he sold his construction company for $160 million dollars) We chatted, exchanged numbers, had a few meetings and that was really about all that happened.

The real impact of my time with this organization came when I attended one of their functions that pretty much resembles the NBC show ‘Shark Tank’ with the exception that the panel was offering a critique of the presenter’s business plan as opposed to capital. It was a most fascinating event.

I watched people present their business plan ranging from a one-man shop offering the latest and greatest metal drive (golf club) to a former television executive laying out his company’s plan to take on CNN. The insight the panel offered was amazing and worthy of a blog posting all its own.

However, the main nugget I walked away with was when one of the panelists, after hearing the pitch from the entrepreneur walked over to the whiteboard and wrote. ‘C.F.I.M.I.T.Y.M.’ and asked if anyone presenting knew what that stood for. No one did and I admit, being a ‘fan’ of acronyms, I did not either.

To sum it all up…’C.F.I.M.I.T.Y.M.’ simply means: ‘Cash Flow Is More Important Than Your Mother.’
Now, apart from any personal moral disagreements with that phrase, one would have a difficult time challenging the wisdom behind it from a business perspective.

We picked up a new client this week and are in the process of working with this owner as he begins to develop a transition plan to new ownership. On our laundry list of items to discuss and understand is the company’s cash flow since this company maintains and sells inventory in the A/E/C marketplace.

Selling, marketing, advertising, responding to RPF’s, building new business, etc. is all fun, necessary and vital to any business. But in chasing these important pursuits, we must not ignore the fundamentals of any business and that is staying on top of cash flow, revenues and expenses.

There is nothing I enjoy more than walking into a room, knowing I will soon be giving a presentation for either my company or on behalf of a company we represent with the goal of walking out with a commitment for new business.

Sales!

Revenue!

Closing Deals!

I love them all!

However, every business owner needs to always remember that the most important rule in business is that it’s not how much you make…it’s how much you keep.

Also, never forget…business is a verb!

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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.

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

http://www.cmconl.com

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