It is quite clear that the electrical construction market is currently experiencing the ramifications of the same recession that has plagued businesses in
most industries. Still, some electrical contractors are thriving while others are shutting down operations. Here are some tips to grow your electrical
business in these tough financial times.
# 1 Organize Your Contact Database
One of the most overlooked aspects of running your own business is keeping everything organized. We’d never overlook attention to detail with
something we consider “important”, such as accounting, but often our contacts are kept in a variety of unorganized spots. If you have to sift
through a Rolodex, a pile of business cards and your outdated Microsoft outlook contacts just to find a client’s phone number, you are not
approaching your contacts with the right respect. After all, your customer base is the lifeline of your business.
The first step to organizing your business contacts is to consolidate every contact into one central location. There are tons of CRM (customer relationship
management) programs that are fully customizable to meet the needs of your specific industry and company. One popular solution is Microsoft Exchange for
sharing e-mail contacts. Simply setting up a public folder for everyone to use on your company’s server can also provide a relatively inexpensive
Ensure that this is an ongoing process. Keep track of all new contacts and make sure that you keep track of status updates, such as the last time a client
was contacted. While this may seem like a tedious task, the value of an organized contact database cannot be overstated.
#2 Don’t Underestimate the Power of the Meet and Greet
You may be a large contractor, with an impressive fleet of vehicles, a large staff, and a beautiful office building. If so, do not hesitate to show off
these assets. Offer to bring owners, general contractors and any other potential clients to your business and showcase what you are capable of. Let them
see what makes you stand apart from the typical subcontractors that they might be used to working with.
If your business is still growing and your facilities are still less than impressive, take yourself and/or your team to your client’s offices. One
main advantage of this tactic is that you don’t have to worry about them not showing up. Though people may have the best intentions, you do run the
risk of less people showing up than you had hoped for. This may give you more opportunities to talk to the key players of the business who may have not
come had you invited them to your office. We recommend the mid-morning meeting. Most people are still alert and focused from their morning coffee, and this
also sets up a nice opportunity to invite the client to lunch following the meeting.
These meetings can serve as a great way to expand your company’s reach, by establishing relationships with potential clients and networking
#3 Team Building
Ultimately, it is people that will decide who to award a project bid to. Of course, other factors like pricing will come into play, but the difference
between electrical contractors securing a project and not is often closely tied to personal relationships they have already established.
If you’ve ever worked with a GC who has “advised” you about your projects price and scope, or a vendor who gives you a special deal on
parts or makes you aware of upcoming projects, you understand how great personal relationships can be for business. If these types of situations are a
rarity for your company, refocus on building these relationships.
Every single employee within your organization has likely established relationships with multiple people who can add value to your company. Imagine the
power of harnessing all of these unique relationships. Make sure you are taking advantage of all of your contacts, and don’t forget tip # 1 –
keep your contacts organized in a centralized location.
Depending on the size of your staff and their work history, you’ll need to come up with an effective way to gather these leads. Set up an internal
meeting to discuss and compare notes on both previous and existing customers. Just opening the discussion will often make people realize connections they
wouldn’t have otherwise remembered. Just by encouraging everyone in the company to reach out to old contacts can produce some great results.
#4 Spread by Word of Mouth
When we need a plumber to fix our toilets, rarely do we thumb through the phone book and pick a plumber at random. Most likely, you either know someone
that works in the plumbing business, or a friend, neighbor or acquaintance has recently employed a plumber. You’ll likely reach out to this person
for a referral. It’s easy to see how word of mouth can make or break a company.
So, what is the secret to having a good word of mouth reputation? Of course, the best tool here is to provide exceptional service to your customers.
Providing poor service is a prescription for epic business failure. Good news travels quickly, but bad news travels even quicker.
Another important factor is brand recognition. Anywhere a potential customer lurks is an opportunity for brand building, whether it’s through clean
company vehicles with eye-catching logos, branded hard hats, or handing out professional business cards at meetings.
#5 Leverage Your Ability To Design Custom Solutions
If you offer in-house drafting and drawing capabilities, this can be a great competitive advantage for your company. The ability to offer custom solutions
to your customers’ problems can be a great selling point, especially when dealing with owners, architects, and engineers. Practically every
contractor is involved in design in some way, even if it’s just through a local electrical engineering firm. Make sure you showcase your
company’s abilities to work with these companies, and constantly work to expand these capabilities.
#6 Utilize Service Offerings to Further Your Reach
Many electrical contractors fear the dreaded warranty call. It threatens to turn what small profits you may have made into a loss as your forced to make
any repairs out of your own pocket.
Instead of looking at the warranty period as a ticking time bomb, use it as a way to introduce your company to the owner of the facility. As an electrical
contractor, you’re typically mainly communicating about the project with the general contractor. After all, they’re most likely the one cutting
But after a job is completed, there is still a great chance that the owner of the facility will need services that you offer in the future. This is a great
chance to establish a relationship between your company and the facility owner. Introduce the owner to your “warranty team”. Make a visit or
phone call that explains what to do if any problems arise with any systems you installed. This immediately establishes you as a proactive contractor that
is willing and able to take care of his customers.
This is a great way to sell future services without seeming like you’re begging for business. You’re simply offering preventative solutions
while making it known to the owner that you are a separate entity from the general contractor.
This tactic also goes hand in hand with establishing good word of mouth and differentiates your company from the competition. Additionally, remember that
while total revenue from services may be significantly smaller than contractual revenues, the profit margin is probably much higher. Expanding your service
department is a great way to grow your top line, bottom line, and overall business value.
#7 Have a Clear Marketing Strategy
No matter what the size, a successful organization must have a clearly defined marketing strategy. Make sure you can clearly define these marketing
-What types of work have been generating your revenue and profits over the last 36 months?
-Where do you anticipate future revenue/profits will come from?
-What is your geographical reach? Do you plan on expanding to reach a larger customer base?
If only a small portion of your staff can answer these questions, you can’t expect a fluid collaboration from them. Marketing of your company needs
to be a group effort. If everyone is not on the same page you will be wasting your efforts.
#8 Keep In Touch With Your Customers
Make sure that your customers remember you six months after a project. Even more important, make sure it’s a positive memory. The best way to do this
is to call customers after six months and survey them.
Not only will talking to past customers allow you to learn where you can make improvements to your business, it’s yet another great way to spread
positive word of mouth. Your clients will love the extra effort and will be more likely to have good things to say about your company.
#9 Keep The Lines Of Communication Open
Make sure to educate your staff on the full scope of your company’s capabilities. Make sure your project managers are comfortable communicating with
owner’s reps and general contractors during projects. Keeping the lines of communication open will usually allow your salesmen to hear about upcoming
project opportunities they normally wouldn’t be exposed to. Open communication between your company and your past, present and future clients helps
instill confidence and build strong relationships.
The ability to follow through on promises made by your company is a powerful tool. It may not sound like a marketing tactic, but essentially it is one of
the strongest marketing tools available.
#10 Stay Abreast With The Trends of the Industry
Never underestimate the importance of investing capital and time to learn about emerging trends like solar and wind energy, green building requirements,
new construction practices, and BIM (building information modeling) software. In recent years, 3D BIM has revolutionized the way many contractors are
designing projects. Bringing your team to industry seminars is a great way to stay up to date with the industry, and also serves as a great networking
tool. Even something as simple as attending LEED certification classes often puts you in the same room as architects, designers, building owners, and
general contractors. Never miss an opportunity to network with other industry professionals.
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