Being a successful concrete professional requires more than skill with trowels, colors and coatings. You also need to network. Networking requires investments in both time and infrastructure, but you will almost definitely see an increase in your business if you are thoughtful about your approach.
Strengthening relationships with your local builders and architects is one of the best ways to get good contracts. When builders need help with the concrete portion of their projects, they will immediately think of the person they have a connection with. Forging relationships with your local builders is absolutely critical to the success of your business and it can be done in a variety of ways.
Work your showroom
A showroom is a wonderful place to show potential clients the capabilities of your company. It can also be a place to hold events that will allow you to network with local builders, architects and designers. Organize monthly lunch-and-learns, business after-hours get-togethers, holiday parties or hands-on training events and invite architects and builders. You will be able to connect with the local architects and builders on your home turf, and get to know them better.
Go where they are
Another important way to network is to go to events that architects and builders are likely to attend. If there is a local professional organization or charity that many local builders work with, then you should consider joining as well. These organizations are a wonderful way to build professional relationships and they may lead to more business in the future.
Provide contact info
One simple but important thing to remember is that local architects and builders need to have your contact information. They may meet a lot of different people at events and will not be able to recommend your decorative concrete if they can’t or don’t know how to easily reach you. Have professional business cards made and always carry some with you. Whenever you meet new builders, give them your business card. Leave several of your business cards at the offices of the builders and architects you meet, so they can recommend you at any time or pass them on to colleagues who may be looking for your services.
Develop high-quality, eye-catching brochures that state your business philosophy and capabilities. Feature your best project photos. You can hand out these brochures or direct mail them to the offices of all of the local builders and architects in your area. This is an excellent way to ensure that your abilities are familiar to these local companies. If you choose direct mail, be sure to follow up with a phone call to ensure they received your mailing while also opening the door for a conversation.
Photos and case studies
As you develop your concrete business it is important for you to take photos of your work and keep them on file.
Develop case studies of your work based on quality and problem solving. PDFs of case studies can be shared easily, so architects and builders can see exactly what you are capable of and have done. You could post these studies on your website or print and send them to every architect and builder in your area. Also, send them to your local newspaper or local lifestyle magazines.
Architects draw plans and make finish specifications for buildings, and it is extremely important to them that the contractors they specify or hire can read the drawings and execute them properly. These architects must feel confident that you can and will perform the work properly. Giving them examples of your past projects will ensure architects you have done a project of similar scope and complexity and will be capable of handling their project.
Invite and communicate
Providing examples of your past work is not the only way to assure architects that you will do a great job. Consider inviting architects to your job sites. Allow them to observe the work of you and your crew. Architects generally love to learn and see new processes take place. If you show them how things are done, they will be much more likely to use you for one of their upcoming projects.
As you move toward maintaining a relationship that you have cultivated, regularly communicate with your contact. And don’t be shy to introduce yourself to a partner or the person in the office next door. Dealing with only one person at a large firm could backfire if your contact leaves or moves to another firm.
To keep in touch, let your contacts know how your projects are progressing. They will appreciate being kept in the loop and will be more likely to work with you in the future.
Communication is critical if you are going to be successful at maintaining relationships with architects and builders, and it is critical for your business to build these relationships. Start by reaching out to the architects and builders in your community in a way that feels comfortable to you. If you have a showroom, take advantage of it by hosting events. If not, consider investing in one, and develop outreach materials to communicate with other professionals. Be honest and friendly, and let them know you’re the right person for the job.
Mark Donaldson is president of Ideas Media LLC, a company that specializes in lead generation for concrete professionals. Services include websites, online marketing, SEO and social media. Reach Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.