If you’re a general contractor, you’re almost never alone. You’re constantly crossing paths with clients, architects, engineers, suppliers, and subcontractors. Ask yourself honestly: How much time have you put into building on these relationships?
If you answered “not much,” you’re missing out on some big opportunities to help your business win.
Building relationships takes extra time and effort, and it makes sense that you’d pour it all into the job. But face it: You’re not Stephen King, writing books in a room in Maine. To be successful in the construction industry, you need people, plain and simple. And so many relationship-building opportunities are ignored every day. Here’s how to pay attention to them, and what you’ll get in return:
Long-term, trustworthy professional partnerships
You don’t have to be friends to maintain valuable professional relationships. When you encounter partners you work well with, and who share your vision, you already have the essential pieces needed for a mutually beneficial partnership. Working with people who are reliable, understand process, know your work, and speak your same “language” increases opportunities for shared success – the ultimate win-win. If you’re a commercial contractor and find a great team of roofers or an active real estate developer finds you, make sure you communicate your interest in working with them, and take steps to stay in touch. The payoff may not be immediate, but it’s usually more than expected when it does arrive.
Valuable insight and information
One benefit of strong professional relationships is gaining access to more information. For example, construction is changing and it’s not easy to keep track of all the new tools available. Technology is enabling software, like FieldLens, and tools, such as 3D printers and drones, to shift the traditional jobsite thinking and execution — allowing project teams to shorten the time it takes to document and execute tasks. As technology advances, it’s contractors who understand how to best leverage tools like this who will secure the best bids in the long term. Why? Because they have the knowledge to make projects more efficient, less costly and much safer.
With a diverse professional network, you don’t always need to be up-to-the minute with the latest tools and trends. If you need of information, you can use networking sites like LinkedIn to get updates, read articles, and ask your contacts directly about what they’ve recently read or come across in the field, rather than spending hours researching. Sharing information not only keeps you current, it’s an excellent way to stay in touch and keep your relationships fresh.
The ultimate payoff from cultivating professional relationships is receiving and providing business referrals. A referral can give a contractor an advantage over a competitor, as well as the inside track on future projects. Referrals can also get you on developer’s preferred contractor lists, so you’re always in consideration for projects. This is the “secret” behind why some contractors are able to keep their pipelines full, while others struggle. Next year is projected to be another strong year for nonresidential construction with spending expected to reach $390 billion, so if you want to set yourself up for success, remember it’s not always what you know, but who you know.