Marketing Your Construction Business
The manager of The Ohio River Bridges Project's Kentucky Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program meets with prime contractors to find out what they’re looking for in a sub-contractor.
Most realize that competition is limited by repeatedly working with the same few sub-contractors on construction jobs. But often the confidence and familiarity of dealing with firms/contractors they already know outweighs their desire to take a chance on a new firm, even if they can offer the lowest bid.
So what are prime contractors looking for? Experience, quality and dependability are their top considerations. They say they want access to more qualified firms seeking to do business with them. They want more firms to come to them, present their business strengths, experience and capabilities.
Here are some of the best practices for marketing your business to first- and second-tier contractors with which you would like to work:
Your Business Card: Your business card is very important! It should have your name, the name of your business, address, telephone and fax number, e-mail and website address. You can have cards made at any local print shop. TIP: It's best if the back of your card is not coated so that it may be used for writing notes.
E-mail address: Get an email address if you don’t already have one. You can easily create one at no cost by using websites such as Google.com and Yahoo.com. Tip: The most professional email address is one that contains your company name; MyName@MyCompany.com, this is not an expensive or complicated option.
Your Elevator Pitch: For networking, meetings and other events, have an “Elevator Pitch” ready to introduce yourself and your business. An Elevator Pitch gives you 30 seconds (about the time it takes to travel from one floor to the next in an elevator) to tell someone your name, your company name and a description of your business. You should be very concise and mention any certifications you have. It is very important that you FOLLOW-UP with a phone call for every legitimate lead you get.
Your Business Resume: You should have a printed “Business Resume” with you to give possible customers/clients. Your resume should include your company and contact information, a list of your experience (projects you have worked on), a list of references (three or four), your certification status, a quality statement and any warranties or guarantees on your work. TIP: Have an electronic version of your Business Resume in case you need to e-mail it to a prospect.
Your Outreach: If you are not able to network as much as you would like, you can still reach out to potential customers in other ways. The old school ways are still effective. Make phone calls, ask about the best way to send information about your business, or ask for a meeting to discuss your business and qualifications.
Your Database: You must develop a database of potential customers. If you have been in business for anytime at all, you know who they are. There are many ways to expand your list of targets. For instance, you can access the list of Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) Prequalified Contractors by going to the KYTC Directory.
This list is of particular value to firms relating to road and bridge construction. TIP: There are membership organizations like chambers of commerce and local business associations that provide excellent opportunities for connecting with potential customers.
For comprehensive business assistance, contact the Ohio River Bridges Project’s KY DBE Program Manager at 502-499-9440 about the Entrepreneurial Development Institute (EDI) programs available to certified DBEs at no charge.
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