We’ve all heard it a thousand times before — “technology is turning us into the anti-social generation”.
If we were to take all the newspaper column inches dedicated to this topic, we’d be able to re-clad the Eureka Tower and have enough left over to do the Opera House.
Like most opinion articles, these aren’t worth the paper (or pixels) they’re on. While we might not mingle with strangers on the bus anymore (which is probably a good thing), tech has given us the opportunity to reach out to thousands of previously unknown people.
But what does this all have to do with the construction industry?
There is no denying that construction is a game of relationships. And while saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” might be an oversimplification, being able to get in touch with the right people will get you moving in the right direction.
There are three ways you should be using tech to make sure you are both getting in front of the right people and have enough time to build a working relationship with them —
— Networking, prioritisation and automation (don’t worry — it’s a hell of a lot easier than it sounds).
Getting in touch with new leads is no longer as laborious as jotting down names into a little black book from the tenders section of a newspaper. There’s also no more need to sleuth around multiple sources to work out who all the tendering builders are on a job.
And while you can now access all these details so easily, so can everyone else. If you’re calling into the builder cold, you are missing out on a great opportunity to get a head start on building that working relationship.
Every builder is online in some form or another these days. And it’s not just a matter of jumping on the EstimateOne address book and jotting down a few names or numbers. Try a couple of these tricks to get your networking to the next level:
- Before you call to enquire about a project, note the estimators name and have a quick look on their LinkedIn. Estimators are notorious for being on the move a bit, you might just find a couple of mutual connections from jobs you’ve worked on in the past.
- Have a squiz at the builders listing in the EstimateOne address book and see what other jobs they are working on. If there’s more than one you can help them out with, let them know you’re keen.
- If you’re on a paid plan, have a look at some of the jobs they’ve won recently — a nice congratulations can go a long way, and they might even need your help to get it built!
- Jump to their website. Many of the websites have a “News” or “About” section where you can mine heaps of useful information to drop in conversation.
There is a wealth of knowledge that is so easily accessible. Taking the time to find this knowledge can be worth its weight in gold.
Knowledge is power, and we all know people love it when you take the time to talk about them.
With all these new contacts comes an influx of invitations to put in a quote. But how do you work out the ones that are actually worth your time?
No one’s getting paid to put in a quote — so it’s important that you’re only quoting the jobs that will most likely to lead to a pay day.
In the marketing world there’s a thing known as lead scoring — putting a number against a lead so you know where to direct your efforts. This kind of system is perfect for many construction businesses.
All you need to do is work out and then codify how important aspects of a job are for you. For example if I was a supplier of glass, I’d be looking to see if my product was spec’d, if I had a prior relationship with the builder and how much of the product I could actually supply.
Then you need to put a percentage rating against those criteria to dictate how important they are. So say:
- Product Spec’d = 45%
- Relationship with the builder = 30%
- Product amount = 25%
Next, put a score between 1–10 for each of the criteria against the job. You just need to multiply your score with the percentage you assigned to it, then add them all up. You can see from the example below that I should be prioritising the St Kilda Trophy Cabinet job:
To get started, Google ‘lead scoring template’ — there are plenty of free options out there you could be taking advantage of.
Once you’ve got yourself into this kind of mindset, you can also start actively searching for jobs that will give you a high lead score.
Tools like EstimateOne’s spec search allow you to find jobs where you can put a 10 next to “product spec’d” straight away by only showing jobs where your product has actually been specified.
Automation seems to be one of those buzz words floating around at the moment that you just can’t shake.
It tends to conjure up images of computer experts writing 1000’s of lines of code just so they can get their time sheets to fill themselves out.
The reality is that you’re probably taking advantage of a few automation techniques in your day to day already. You might have a direct debit set up for your phone bill, or have a recurring slot in your calendar for meetings with a colleague.
If you’re utilising the EstimateOne Watchlist, you are already automating notifications about projects so you don’t need to constantly keep checking on them.
What other day to day tasks you’re doing repeatedly that a computer could be doing for you? Think of doing things like:
- Set up google alerts for keywords that are of interest to your business (your products, your competitors, builders you have relationships with) so you can be alerted every time it’s written about.
- Create a digital signature so you don’t need to print, sign, scan, send every time.
- If your company uses Google sheets or Google docs to collaborate, ensure you’ve got notifications turned on so you don’t miss anything important.
While ‘automation’ does sound intimidating, it really is a matter of working out what you are doing too much of, and finding out if there’s a way a computer could be doing it for you.
And the more you automate the tedious, the more time you have to build those relationships and ultimately, the more time you can be working on winning work.