3 Approaches to Business Development

As the construction industry comes out of some tough times, business development is playing a larger role in the day-to-day activities of construction companies. Now that we’re seeing signs of life, contractors are moving from cost-cutting mode to “get-work” mode. But it’s not as if they can just pick up where they left off. Changes in the competitive environment as well as how companies are doing business have created a “new normal.” A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend a webinar presented by FMI consultant Scott Moyer, in which he discussed the new business development environment and some key areas to focus on for success. Here is what I took away from Scott’s presentation.

Relationship Building

Today, it’s all about developing relationships—and not just contractors developing good relationships with their subs and vendors. One of the things the industry is seeing more of lately is the invitation-only bidding processes, so having strong relationships in place can mean the difference between getting invited to the party or not. Consequently, contractors are having to network and develop relationships with designers and owners, and likewise, subcontractors have to connect more with general contractors. If you’re not already involved in networking, trade associations can be a great place to start.

Flexibility

In this “new normal,” you have to be willing to take some risks and easily adapt. Construction companies that will stay competitive in the market are willing to be flexible and constantly assess their business practices. They take calculated risks, constantly examine strategies to see if they’re working, and are not afraid to go back to the drawing board if business development efforts fall short.

Management’s Role

Many companies in the past used to have business development as sort of a “satellite operation” within the organization. Today, more executives are getting involved, and those that do are proving far more successful. Why? According to Moyer, it breeds a leadership strategy from the top down that all employees get behind. Essentially, when senior management takes the business development reins, the chances for success improve dramatically. And, Moyer noted, “if you’re not investing in business development strategies, your competitors are.”

How do you feel about your own company’s business development strategies? Are you ready for the “new normal?”

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