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Do More to Get More

05/15/24

Do you stress about increasing sales while the available opportunities are shrinking and the competition is increasing? Most construction companies try to work harder in tough times, but the best they can do is hope to break even doing the same things they’ve always done. The truly successful contractors and suppliers do things differently than their competitors to get ahead. They go the extra mile. They do more than their competition. They provide more than the minimum plans and specifications they are contracted to perform. They do more to get more! This gives them a competitive edge and gets them more signed contracts.

I know you don’t get paid to do the little things that make a big difference in your customers’ minds. The world is competitive and you don’t have enough time or money to give away anything extra. But suppose you were buying a new luxury car for the lowest price you could find, after shopping several dealers and pricing them over the internet. When you are ready to buy, you decide to go into the local dealer and make a fair deal. They end up treating you like a king. They delivered the car to your house, have all the papers ready to sign, and the whole process only takes a few minutes. When you have a few minor repair issues, they come and pick up the car at your house and deliver it back fully fixed, washed, and gassed. No charge. The salesman then sends you a gift card to a local steakhouse as a thank-you. Wow! They went the extra mile.

Forty Extra Things to Want

As a general contractor, it would be nice to get treated like a king once in a while. Of course, there are a few subcontractors who think all general contractors do whatever they can to take advantage of them. Some general contractors get accused of shopping bids, not paying promptly, mismanaging jobs, and hurting rather than helping subcontractors. Why would the subcontractors continue to work under such poor circumstances and why don’t they seek better customers to work for? There is a percentage of contractors who don’t do what’s right, and it’s best to avoid them.

There are also contractors and subcontractors who know how to treat their customers like kings. What can you do to improve your customer relationships and treat your customers better? Here is a list of things to consider:

  1. Be a friendly team player versus an enemy
  2. Provide competitive, fair, and consistent pricing
  3. Give on-time, accurate, and complete bids and proposals
  4. Educate your estimator about the options available
  5. Ensure on-time delivery of supplies and materials
  6. Provide on-time submittals and shop drawings
  7. Know the business of contracting
  8. Be professional, look sharp, and act first class
  9. Return your phone calls and emails within 30 minutes
  10. Have a regular time you can be reached every day
  11. Use e-mail and texting for quick correspondence
  12. Use digital cameras to send photos of job issues
  13. Do your own project clean-up every day
  14. Know construction contracts and do what they say
  15. Be well-funded and have adequate working capital
  16. Charge the right price on change orders
  17. Always include proper backup on invoices
  18. Visit jobsites before you are called to start work
  19. Stay ahead of job schedules
  20. Never create downtime for other peoples’ crews
  21. Don’t bid on jobs you can’t handle
  22. Never delay jobs with lack of manpower
  23. Do your own punch list first
  24. Provide responsible decision-making foremen
  25. Have an ongoing safety program
  26. Don’t over bill or front-end load invoices
  27. Have the same salesperson / estimator who is friendly and positive in your office every week, and make sure they are knowledgeable, and can anticipate your needs
  28. Be someone who helps the customer sell
  29. Bring the customer lots of leads
  30. Pick up plans and return them in a timely manner
  31. Suggest other subcontractors and suppliers
  32. Recommend architects, engineers, bankers, real estate agents, insurance, and bonding agents
  33. Keep the customer stocked with up-to-date product literature and samples
  34. Take potential customers golfing or to lunch
  35. Provide subscriptions to industry trade publications
  36. Invite the customer to industry association meetings
  37. Have a great website with product information, technical materials, engineering data, and up-to-date industry standards
  38. Invest in the customer’s development projects
  39. Bring the customer joint venture and equity partners
  40. Tell the customer what they can do to improve and make a profit

Providing the minimum at the lowest cost will continue to get you marginal low-profit work. But to get the results you really want you’ve got to do more. Consider implementing a few of these pro-active ideas and get more than the minimum from your customers.

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This article contains general information only. Sunflower Bank is not, by means of this article, rendering accounting, financial, investment, legal, tax, or other professional advice or services. This article is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, before making any decisions related to these matters, you should consult a qualified professional advisor.