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Posts Tagged ‘Construction’

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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I am guessing it has now been close to a year when this blog was nominated and won Mark Buckshon’s ‘Best Construction Blog of 2010’ contest. I only mention this because the contest is back on and I would like to promote it as best I can as well as mention publicly that I am sitting it out this year.

Mark Buckshon is the reason why I started a blog in the first place. How Mark and I met makes for a pretty cool networking story and from that, he gave me my first ‘big break’ by allowing me to write an article for one of his regional newspapers.

Last year’s blog contest came to my attention because I subscribe to Mark’s blog and his newsletter. It was through one of the two that I became aware of the contest and while one could nominate their own blog, I saw that Chris Hill (Construction Law Musings) was in the hunt so I figured why join a ‘fight’ I cannot win. (Translation: Chris’ blog is, in my opinion, one of the very best out there.)

Later, in an update about the contest, I saw that I was not only nominated, but leading the voting. That changed the landscape of my intentions and after reading the rules, I saw that I better give this competition some attention.

The purpose of this entry is not so much to tell one how to win a blog contest but to emphasize the importance of contact management. In my ‘previous life’, there was a period of my career where I was responsible for training all the researchers at Construction Market Data, an international construction information group. That involved mastering their large database of projects, companies and contacts. That is where I developed my passion for CRMs, data mining and was able to weave my healthy dose of OCD into a pretty decent career.

Last year’s blog contest was like ‘American Idol’ except, no judges…just people ‘calling in’ to vote. This year, Mark has added other criterion which I believe is a great idea. After the contest, I wrote in my post ‘Madonna Voted Best Singer’ that I did not think for a minute my blog was the best. However, because part of what I do is train people and consult with companies on the importance of maintaining their data, leveraging it, networking and marketing and if the contest could be won by simply asking people to vote, then I knew I had no choice but to win.

Harvey MacKay, the author of such great books as, ‘How To Swim With The Sharks Without Getting Eaten Alive’ and ‘Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty suggests you should have as a goal to create a list of people that you can call on at midnight and they will be happy to loan you $10,000. While that is a goal I am still working on, I do have a very, very robust list of people I can contact who would easily consider clicking on a link to vote for me in a contest, referring me to someone or help me with any number of requests.

If the three most important words in real estate are location, location, location, I believe it could be argued the three most important words in building new business could be contacts, contacts, contacts. Some may think I carry this to the extreme but I currently have over 7,000 contacts, 80% of them are in the construction or design industry and I can tell you, for the most part, where I met that person, how we are connected, some small tidbit of history and more.

Also, the important part of maintaining your contacts is not to ‘touch base’ with them just when you need a favor.

After the contest was over, Mark called to talk and asked me how I gathered so many votes. At first, I did not want to tell him because the methods I used are actually part of the system I have developed and get paid to teach others. However, I did share with him the basics and even went so far as to share with him the text of the email I sent showing how I was able to gather so many votes. Mark published this in his follow up report.

Still, to this day, there are those who believed I ‘gamed the system’ or state that they believe I played fairly, ‘as far as they can tell.’ Those alone are the reasons I am sitting out the contest this year but I do encourage everyone to participate. There are a lot of great blogs out there with lots of great information and you can never tell when you will find that one little nugget or pearl of wisdom that could lead to bigger and better things.

Good luck bloggers!

To go to the contest, click here

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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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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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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.

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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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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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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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Being a product of the south, I have heard and used more than my share of colloquialisms. I especially enjoy being able to sneak one in during a major presentation or group of ‘heavy hitters’ to see what, if any, reaction I get.

This past week, I was in the corporate office of a Fortune 200 company and was able to use one of my favorites, ‘Shuckin’ it down to the cob!’. For those unfamiliar with the phrase, ‘shuckin’ it down to the cob’ refers to shucking an ear of corn with so much enthusiasm that you are left with nothing but the cob. Translation: it means no frills, no extras, as bare bones of a proposition as one can find.

In this particular setting, we were negotiating a rather large contract for over 200 locations and the setting felt much like the stereotypical ‘buying a new car’ scenario with the price haggling bouncing back and forth like a Forrest Gump ping pong match.

It was close to ‘walking out’ time when I was able to remind the prospect that, regarding our price, we have ‘Shucked it down to the cob’. I was able to gain a double sense of satisfaction by (A) getting the business and (B) being able to use one of my favorite colloquialisms in such a setting.

This post is not so much about winning negotiations with corny, no pun intended, sayings but rather taking a look at one’s business, tossing out the fluff and focusing on that which is most important.

Here are a few ‘Shuckisms’ since my last post.

I had a meeting with a new client this week, and as we were reviewing the business development strategy we were putting together, the owner of the company expressed his excitement about all the new techniques we had gone over.

Shuckism: I had to remind him that results are the only thing that counts.

I was watching one of my new favorite shows, ‘Shark Tank’ and there was a candidate there seeking money for her store that catered to teaching children how to shop. If you are unfamiliar with the show, it is kind of like an ‘American Idol’ for entrepreneurs, seeking funding as opposed to a recording contract. After making a pitch for their business and stating an amount they are seeking oin exchange for ‘X’ percentage equity in their business, the ‘Sharks (Successful Venture Capitalists) either opt out or strike a deal.

It was obvious the lady had passion for her business but there really was not much of a model for success. All of the sharks opted out and while most were trying to be kind, one shark was brutally honest. He said, ‘Shut it down, I am the only one here who is your friend.”

Shuckism: There is a big difference between being in business and ‘playing business’.

A few years ago, we redid our kitchen. You know, the whole nine yards: granite counter tops, new appliances, cabinets, lights, hardwoods, etc. My wife did the budgeting as this was her project. I did give her a template to follow and she did indeed do a great job of researching all the costs.

When we reviewed the budget, I noticed she left blank the line marked ‘Contingency’. When I inquired, she assured me she thought of every cost and provided me her research to back up her claim. She was correct, her numbers for the labor costs and appliances and fixtures were spot on. I honestly could not think of any contingency so we left that blank.

Low and behold, when one is having a kitchen redone, the opportunity to cook in said kitchen is greatly reduced and the cost of eating out for three weeks could fall into your ‘contingency’ cost line.

Shuckism: If you are not sure, ask someone who has done it before. Measure twice/cut once applies to more than lumber.

There are so many great resources on the web…tons of great blogs, websites, discussion groups, e-newsletters, etc. If you are having challenges building new business…just ask.

I have had the pleasure of getting to know Michael Stone author of the construction blog ‘Markup and Profit’ (www.markupandprofit.com). He is very much like me in that he truly enjoys helping people build new business. The same with Mark Buckshon, author of the new book, ‘Construction Marketing Ideas’ (www.constructionmarketingideas.com). I would not be blogging if it were not for Mark. I know for a fact, both welcome inquiries and offer a lot of great information on their sites.

There are a lot of great resources out there that can help you build new business, you just have to take advantage of them. It may be the simplest small pearl of wisdom someone else shares with you that helps you land the next contract. Very much like trying to solve magic tricks, people often way over think the solution.

Shuckism: The answer is always ‘no’ until you ask.

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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.

www.cmconl.com

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

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WARNING: This blog does not have any pictures and may be considered lengthy by some.

I remember doing some channel surfing many moons ago and coming across George Carlin doing a bit about how all we really need in life is a ‘place for our stuff’. He went on to say that all life is about is finding a place for your stuff. Your house is really nothing but a place for your stuff with a roof. When you go on vacation, you take a smaller version of your stuff but you will still have a place for your stuff.

In the same spirit and thinking of Mr. Carlin’s wonderful piece on having a place for one’s stuff, I will contend that the parallel for business is not so much having a place for our stuff but, from Wal-mart all the way down to the sole proprietor, business is all about finding ‘shorter lines’.

Sure, we all have ‘stuff’ for our business. Where would I be without my laptop, my Blackberry, iPod player, copy machine, coffee maker, scanner and printers? These are merely tools to help me obtain what I truly desire – shorter lines.

Everything in business is a part of some type of line and we all want shorter ones. Think about it: You pull into the bank to make a deposit and there are four open drive-thru lanes. Which one do you pick? The one that has the shorter line. This also applies to checking out at the grocery store, going through security at the airport and any visit to your friendly Department of Motor Vehicles. We all want shorter lines.

In business, every single task we engage ourselves with involves a line of some kind with, I believe, the broader category being ‘time lines’. For each of the following, whatever process we choose, we cannot escape getting from ‘A’ to ‘B’ via a line of time.

• Complete stranger to loyal client

• Zero revenue to our first $1,000,000

• Profit margin from breakeven to 15%

• One location to ten branch offices

• Three employees to 50 employees

I think you get the picture. Every business person worth their salt is quite aware of the different lines involved in achieving one’s goals but what separates those possessing shorter lines from the ones with longer lines, is the amount of preparation put into each goal.

How does one reduce the timeline from meeting a complete stranger to having that person as a loyal client from 10 months down to three?

How does one shorten that timeline to seven figures in revenue from three years to one?

The simple answer is planning.

This past week, I am happy to report that we moved four companies from our ‘Prospects’ folder to our ‘Client’ folder…each being an entity in the A/E/C marketplace. If I had to highlight one item as the most profound and common issue of every single company we have worked with it would undoubtedly be how amazed I am to find the number of companies who make their living designing or following a set of plans and specifications…yet do not plan for their business.

What would the timeline be to build a 10,000 SF retail store without plans and specs versus the timeline with plans and specs?

What would the timeline be to build a million dollar business without a plan versus having one?

The late great coach Paul “Bear” Bryant once said, “Have a plan. Follow the plan, and you’ll be surprised how successful you can be. Most people don’t have a plan. That’s why it’s is easy to beat most folks.”

The shortest distance between two points will always be a straight line. The best way to make that line shorter is to plan for a shorter line.

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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 [at] cmconl.com

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