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Posts Tagged ‘Cost Containment’

Trying to define the perfect CRM is a lot like trying to define the perfect vacation, a perfect suit or a perfect meal…so much depends on so many qualities such as one’s goals, size and tastes.

Today’s Blog is a little different in that I have been fortunate to have been asked to take part in a joint effort to address this topic along with a group of my fellow A/E/C marketplace bloggers. (See Post Epilogue)

I will address my point of view from a perspective of working with companies in the commercial construction arena and with a background in lead generation and CRM consulting. Bear with me just a moment while I bore you with a bit of my resume that will, I believe, flavor my offering from a somewhat unique perspective.

The first 13 years of my career, I worked for a company called ‘Construction Market Data’ which became ‘Reed Construction Data’. As a company, we gathered project data by calling on architects, owners, developers, general contractors, municipalities and more. We entered the data into a proprietary database which was actually a very elaborate CRM.

At any one time, we would be tracking literally tens of thousands of project leads ranging from the time a building was nothing but a glimmer in a developer’s eye, through the various stages of design, the bidding process to finally announcing who was awarded the major sub trades.

In tracking a construction project through this timeline, we would include such key roles as the owner, the architect, the structural, mechanical, electrical engineers, bonding information, bid date and time, plan and addendum availability, size, scope, structural details, etc. In other words, a lot of data was attached to a ‘single entry’.

During my tenure at CMD/Reed, I was in charge of training every researcher and sales rep on the ‘in’s out out’s’ of how we gathered data, developed relationships with our sources, how the data was entered, stored and retrieved. Near the end of my time there, I was responsible for managing our national accounts which included pushing the data to their CRM systems and making sure they used this data to their best ability. Our accounts would range from small subcontractors to multi-billion dollar corporations paying hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for these leads.

Now with that painful review done, I will fast forward to today and share that I make a fair portion of my living consulting with companies on their CRM system, particularly as it relates to their sales and marketing, and have seen many companies under/over shoot the mark in their quest for the perfect CRM.

I have written about the importance of leads for building new business before and today’s topic goes hand in hand with managing past, present and future pricing opportunities. While a CRM has many, many features and benefits, I am more specifically concerned about using it to build new business.

When I am consulting with a client on how to manage their CRM, the first thing I try to get them to understand that investing in any CMR system is much like buying a Bowflex™. Buying the Bowflex™ does not get your body to look like the guy in the commercial but rather the continued and effective use of it does. In other words, buying a CRM is not a solution. How you use it is.

A CRM system is nothing more than a tool and it will be most effective when the particular needs of a company are woven into the ‘routine’ of the end user. Software is not the only part of a successful CRM system.

Whether one knows it or not, every single company in America has a current CRM system. It may be nothing more than, on the low end, index cards, filed by date for when to call a prospect/account all the way up to an enterprise wide system that integrates with accounting, production, finance, fulfillment, etc. costing several hundred thousands of dollars

To find the perfect CRM, a company needs to clearly define what it wants to accomplish by upgrading their current system. Often, a business does not even know what questions to ask and can often be mesmerized by bells and whistles that look great during the presentation though offer very little real value as far as meeting their specific goals.

When compiling one’s ‘wish list’ or even better yet, designing your ‘plan and specifications’ for your CRM consider the following, each of which could deserve an entire blog:

• Budget Reporting • Analytics Goals • Training • Expandability • Integration • Security • Success Factors • Data Storage • Implementation Plan • Marketing • Measuring ROI • Support • Data Entry Standards • Data Import • Back Office • Mobile Access • Customization • Forecasting • Pipeline Management

And more…

In short, I believe the perfect CRM system does not exist but there are some systems that are more ‘perfect’ than others. The key to finding the more perfect solution is to understand what you want from this investment.

This is a topic near and dear to my business heart and I am nowhere near a skillful enough writer to address this topic entirely in one blog. If you have any questions, feel free to ask and maybe we can carry this discussion further. In the mean time, I encourage you to read what my colleagues have to say on this subject via the links below.

In short, when it comes to investing in, and trying to find the perfect CRM, measure twice, cut once.

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Post Epilogue

The Perfect CRM is a series of essays by industry experts on the topic of client relationship management tools. Each expert draws upon years of experience to outline their vision of the perfect CRM system. This exercise provides you with new insights into what works, what doesn’t work, and what you should consider when implementing a CRM system.

The experts include:

Ford Harding, Author of Rainmaking – 2nd Edition (http://www.hardingco.com/blog/)
Tim Klabunde, Author of the CRM Chapter in the Marketing Handbook for the Design and Construction Professional (www.Cofebuz.com)
Bernie Siben, Author of A Horse of a Different Color: Marketing in the Public Sector (http://builtenvironment.blogs.com/)
Bobby Darnell, Former Director of National Accounts at Reed Construction Data (http://buildingnewbusiness.com/)
Mel Lester, Owner of the Business Edge (http://www.blog-bizedge.biz/ )
Matt Handal, Contributing Editor of SMPS Marketer (http://www.helpeverybodyeveryday.com )

Visit these sites to read each experts take on the perfect CRM.

——————–

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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I have a ‘malady’ that I have suffered with for many, many years. Nothing serious at all but nonetheless, something I struggle with on a monthly basis…I subscribe to more magazines than I can possibly read. I am to magazines what Imelda Marcos was to shoes. However, though I do not read each issue in its entirety, I will not let one go until I have had a chance to go through each and every page.

Why the obsession with magazines? It is more of my obsession with ideas. While I do indeed read a good portion of the articles, I will view each page, looking for some new website, blog, company, service, software, etc. that can be an advantage to me and/or my clients.

In a recent issue of a construction magazine, I noticed a clever ad that showed your ‘typical’ general contractor standing on a job site surrounded by ‘text’ mentioning all the many items he was responsible for juggling and thus begging the question, about who has time to shop for insurance.

I mention all of that to make the following point. Part of what we do is exactly that…we do the research and due diligence for some of our clients who are too busy to find out if they are actually using ‘the latest and greatest’ or getting the most bang for their buck on certain goods and services.

I am currently working with one company as they evaluate their project management system. In doing so, as I was spending some time performing my daily ‘LinkedIn’ ritual, I came across a contact for a company that had a new system that intrigued me. I checked out their website, found it promising enough to inquire for more information.

The representative for that company wrote me back and said the best way to explain the system would be to do a walk through via an online presentation. I agreed and we set up a date and time.

The next thing I know, I receive and email from someone representing the company, but not the sales person whom I had set up the demo. Their email simply read:

Good Morning Bobby. I took a look at your web site and your company isn’t a fit for what we are looking for to be part of XXXXXX XXX. Sorry for any confusion and I will be cancelling our go to meeting today.

In a word: Aamazing!

This company, who offers a project management solution, decides to do its due diligence after setting up a presentation.

I write back with:

XXXX,

No worries.

I was going to view your system for one of our largest clients, a retail service, construction and facilities maintenance provider.

They currently have 300 full-time employees coast to coast and do national rollouts and projects for retailers and did work in all 50 states last year.

They have been using XXXXXX and we are looking a XXXX XXXXX as an alternative. I very well may have misunderstood what your system can do.

Best of luck…

It did not take long for me to receive the following email:

Ok I didn’t know that. XXX is out today…, so I had very little information on this. Now that you mentioned your client I feel we should keep the meeting. If you want we can do it earlier too.

Sorry Charlie! If that is an example of how you manage your prospecting, I cannot imagine I would be impressed with your project management software and even if I was, I cannot imagine I would be impressed with your customer service. ‘Ready, fire, aim,’ is never a good way to do business.

Now, before you write and tell me I am cutting off my nose to spite my face, understand that if there were just three project managements systems out there, I would not be so quick to dismiss this one. But I did my due diligence before I inquired and wanted to view their system so this was not just a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction on my part.

Granted, in today’s economy those in charge of building new business may be tempted to set up as many appointments, presentations, meetings, etc. as they possibly can, but a little qualification before the appointment is, in my opinion, much better than after.

——————–

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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Remember me? I use to write a blog on this site with some regularity but it has been a while…

Fortunately for me, we have been busier than a one-legged cat trying to bury a mouse on a frozen pond which is the only reason I have not been here more often. So, when it has been a while between posts, you know I am ‘drinking water from a fire hose’, work-wise.

I have been getting a lot of calls and emails from people, which I enjoy getting, just tossing and bouncing around ideas that may help them build new business. I am spending more time in airports in the past few months which, especially during the summer, means I am spending more time waiting on planes. This is not all bad as it gives me a little extra time to reply to such inquiries. I even hopped back on LinkedIn’s Question and Answers section to do a little posting and replying, which brings me to today’s topic.

I had a meeting this week with a new client and the topic was, if you can imagine this, building new business. As we were talking, his enthusiasm was obvious as we talked about his marketing and business development plan.

As we discussed the technical side of pricing…you know, plan acquisition, estimating, submittals, lead management, etc. I shared with him my thoughts on the time line between when any entity moves from being a ‘total stranger’ to a ‘paying customer’ and how our job is to make that time line as short as possible.

I am a big believer that the offerings of ‘Social Media’ can help in that endeavor. The question that I took time to answer on LinkedIn was responding to the question:

‘Have you used Twitter successfully to promote your business?’

My reply was, in a word, ‘Yes’. I give some specific examples of how Twitter has helped me generate revenue.
Just like this blog, I use to ‘Tweet’ all the time after being one of the early naysayers about Twitter. However, I have learned that while there is nothing magical about Twitter, it is simply a tool to allow others to get to know you, or your business, a little better.

For the very curious follow this link to my full answer: http://tw9.us/dp

Now, the point of this blog is not to promote Twitter, Facebook, Fastpitch, etc. but rather to emphasize the concept that while the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, the best line between ‘stranger’ and ‘paying customer’ is the shortest line.

I am a big believe in that you help yourself create the shortest line by breeding familiarity. Allowing prospects to get to know you as a person as well as getting to know you as a representative of your company.

Allow me to once again quote Jeffrey Gitomer and if you do not get his free weekly ‘e-zine’, sign up as soon as you are done reading this.:

“All things being equal, people buy from people they like … and, all things not being equal, people still buy from people they like.” (www.gitomer.com)

How do you get someone to like you? They have to get to know you. Social media is nothing more than a way to promote you and/or your business. However, if you are already active in this type of promotion or are in the beginning stages, remember to budget your time accordingly and to never confuse activities with results.

In closing, I want to offer something that I do for each new client. My favorite business magazine is ‘INC’ as I not only learn from each issue; I get inspired by the real stories of entrepreneurs as they churn the wheels of commerce. Each new client gets a free one-year subscription to ‘INC’ and I would like to offer the first person to email me a free subscription as well.

Thanks for reading, keep on keeping on and let’s do all we can to turn this economy around.

Have a great week!

——————–

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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When I first started writing ‘Building New Business’ my goal was to make it a weekly offering but it did not take too long before I realized that was a bit ambitious. The amended goal was every other Thursday and then…as often as I could.

The reason so much time has passed since my last post is things are slammed on this end…which is good. Also, when I started this, I was in the middle of a six month streak of not having to set foot in the airport. That streak is now over and I am writing this waiting to board yet another plane.

In the time since my last offering, I have been up to my neck in alligators but still have enjoyed the calls and emails I have received with people asking a question, wanting to bounce round an idea or just to ‘talk shop’. I always enjoy and welcome such inquiries.

The reason I am entitling this ‘Thank You’ is because I sincerely want to express my gratitude to those who find time to read my blog. I do this out of my unbridled, unapologetic and unashamed passion for capitalism and the free-enterprise system. Being able to share that same excitement with those who have reached out to me and to be able to toss around a few ideas or answer a few questions is fuel to my fire.

Capitalism seems to be getting a lot of negative press here lately with corporate bail outs, government ownership of private companies, threats of bankruptcy, etc. Let me assure you that of the inquiries I have received in the last several weeks, none came from hedge fund managers, bankruptcy lawyers or any government official. They all came from either small business owners or someone responsible for bringing in new business. These are the people that inspire me and help make me wake up each day excited to be doing what I do, helping to churn the wheels of commerce. It is even more rewarding when I hear that our little chat appears to have helped in even the smallest way.

This one will be short gang but I promise a new post soon. I just completed a huge project and will be able to exhale a bit, pour another cup of coffee and hopefully offer a nugget or two of something you may find useful as we all go about building new business.

Have a great weekend…

——————–

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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I have written about my passion for magic (illusions) in the past and will briefly mention it again and hopefully tie it into something useful.

There are few things I enjoy more than to see a brand new, to me, illusion that makes me go, “Hmmm…how’d you do that?” I enjoy that initial sense of awe as much, or more, than learning or figuring out how the illusion is actually done.

The same holds true with business. When I see or learn of something clever that someone is doing to build their business, it is very much like seeing and learning a new magic trick. Given today’s economy, we can use all the cleverness we can muster.

Riddles, logic puzzles, brain teasers have always fascinated me and I enjoy trying to solve them when time allows:

Q: A basket contains 5 apples. Do you know how to divide them among 5 kids so that each one has an apple and one apple stays in the basket?

Hold that thought and get ready for another tidbit from the world of golf…

Back in the day, when Jack Nicklaus ‘owned’ the PGA, before every season he would begin his preparations, with his golf coach, with a review of the fundamentals…starting with how to grip the club. When I first heard this I was dumbfounded. Do what? Jack Nicklaus reviewing how to grip the club?

During my most recent haircut, while I was waiting, I picked up a golf magazine and started flipping through the pages. As I was scanning the articles it occurred to me that each issue of any golf magazine is made up of at two main categories of content. (1) News and (2) Instructions.

There will be a review of the last big event, who is healthy, who is not, what is coming up on the tour, who will be there, who will not, etc. Then, the rest are articles are on how to shave a stroke or two off your game with this or that technique. Month after month, year after year, there will be articles offering some small tweak, some pear of wisdom that is aimed at helping you better your score.

Just like Jack Nicklaus reviewing the fundamentals, so holds true for staying the course, no pun intended, during challenging times like today. Remember, there are no magic bullets, no special shoes you can wear to make you drive the ball 500 yards, no putter head shaped like a frozen turkey that will do what sticking to the fundamentals will do.

Continue to market
Continue to offer great service
Continue to build customer relationships
Continue to price projects for a profit

Now, back to our logic puzzle:

Does his mean, as we stick to the fundamentals, we do not look for those neat and clever techniques to help build our business? Absolutely not. What I am suggesting is that in your lead group and within your network, seek and share ideas that are proving to help you reduce costs, get you in front of that hot prospect, present you with more pricing opportunities. [Note: When I say ‘lead group’ I am talking about something formal.]

What can you do this week that you did not do last week, which will help you build new business? That is your brain teaser. If you don’t have an answer, where can you go to find one? Who is in your network that is not just keeping up but actually growing during these times?

Set a goal to call at least three trusted people and ask them how things are going, how they are doing and bounce around a few ideas. Make sure that you have something to offer as well. This small investment of your time can pay off in big ways.

Remember, the answer is always ‘no’ until you ask and I am willing to bet there are people you know that, in spite of the doom and gloom, have created some new idea that is increasing their bottom line.

Your job is to ask, “How’d you do that?”

——————–

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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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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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