Three Ways to Rally Construction Business in Tough Times
Many contractors are still feeling whiplash after the construction industry's sharp correction and decline. A once abundant seller's market turned into a fiercely competitive environment seemingly overnight and has left many builders and remodelers scrambling to maintain business.
When approached the wrong way the problem seems impossible to solve. How do you rally business in a market that has suffered such a steep decline? The following three tips might help you answer that question.
Re-envision Your Business Model
When faced with the problem of buoying business, many contractors take on a "move mountains" philosophy that seeks to maintain their current business model with aggressive marketing, low bids and market expansion. Sadly, such all-in strategies often lead to total business failure when they fail to perform. What if the problem could be side-stepped completely?
Long-time contractors have access to plentiful databases of customers who they have done work for. These same contractors still insist on finding new leads and prospects or trying to sell those existing contacts on new construction and remodel projects.
Shifting away from this "hunter-gatherer" model has allowed many of our clients to enjoy success even in the worst of times. These clients have re-positioned themselves as house doctors and homeowner benefactors. They contact previous clients with a proposition: for a relatively low fee, they'll inspect their home and provide them with a detailed checkup report that will help them maintain their home's value. As someone who has done work on the home, the contractor knows it inside and out and is best suited for this consultative position. Homeowners are more than happy to come aboard when told that a $1,000 annual checkup might prevent $25,000 in home repairs in the future.
This is just one of several new models currently permeating the construction industry. If you're looking for a way to bolster business, you might want to consider re-envisioning your core business model.
Contractors are no longer enjoying a seller's market, and homeowners' requirements are becoming more stringent and demanding as competition in the market heats up. Weekly e-mail reports and telephone calls are being replaced by customizable, online portals that homeowners log into to monitor project progress, view photos, make selections, approve change orders and more (read more about JetStream's homeowner login).
These technological solutions keep existing clients happy while helping to win over prospective clients. Contractors are learning that these solutions don't have to be difficult or costly, leading to more widespread adoption of specialized solutions like remodeling software.
When worked into your marketing materials, a personalized project control panel can be a powerful bullet point for your business when being compared to a competing contractor. In the end, a technological feather in your cap might be just what your business needs to regain its edge.
How do clients normally learn about your services? If you're like many contractors, word of mouth and outdated methods like the phonebook are generating many of your leads in a time when consumers are turning to Internet searches and online directories for research on builders and remodelers.
Take some time to explore the abundance of online resources and applications used for pairing homeowners with contractors. Many of these tools are low/no cost and can mean the difference between a healthy sales pipeline and a skimpy one.
Meanwhile, increase your visibility by optimizing your website for search. Aim to be the first result that prospective clients see when they search for contractors in your area; consumers in a buyer's market won't exert much effort in discovering your website when it is buried deep in search results. For specific information on optimizing your site, refer to our previous blog post, Top 5 Online Marketing Tips For Contractors.
Business might be tough for those in the construction industry, but creative re-envisioning of business models, technology solutions and modern day marketing are all giving contractors the boost they need to maintain successful, prosperous businesses.