How to Market Your Construction Business and Get the Right Bids!
Even in a good economy, marketing your small to medium-sized construction services is vital to keeping the work pipeline full and jobs coming your way. During COVID-19, it’s even more important. If your workload has temporarily slowed down, now might be the perfect time to reevaluate how you market and advertise your business, get bids, and manage your reputation.
Marketing on a Budget
Sure, you know how meet your customers’ construction services needs but do you know what you need to build a brand or create a functional website? Engage another small business to create your brand or use one of the many online services that help you do it yourself. You can also do a combination, where you have a designer create your logo then you do the legwork to make your website. If you have a gap of time between jobs, creating your own website will help your bottom line.
If you’ve been in business for a while or you are just starting out, you need a good logo. This is one place you may need to get help. There are online services to design logos, but finding a graphic designer in your community who can meet with you to understand your business and budget, will yield a logo that reflects you and your services. The logo is important because you’ll use it on all marketing materials going forward so this may be the place to put your dollars to work.
Now that you have a logo, you can order business cards. These can be created online and shipped directly to you. Doing them yourself saves a lot of money and there are a wide variety of shapes and sizes.
People don’t look for you in the Yellow Pages much anymore; today’s marketing happens on the internet and it’s important to have an online presence. Choose a website name that matches your business name so potential clients can find you easily. If your company is named ABC Construction, try to secure www.ABCConstruction.com or something very close as your website URL. Create the website yourself; there are many online services (like Wix, SquareSpace and Site123) that offer templates where you can plug in your information and photos. Or, engage another company to design your website and get it up and running for you.
Once you feel comfortable, you can improve your search engine optimization (SEO) to have your content seen by a wider audience or pay for sponsored posts.
Yes, it is social media for a reason: a lot of people use it to share information. More and more businesses use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram to market themselves and drive people to their websites. Have a presence on all four or pick a couple you can manage yourself. Setting up accounts is easy. Use your business name and logo. Content can include updates on job progress, profiles of employees, and discounts or specials you are running. Use lots of photos and video! Before & After posts and showing some of the process along the way are great ways to market your business and always include links to your website.
Do you have a mailing list of clients or potential clients? Email marketing is one of the most affordable ways to market; all you need is an email address and some contacts. Send a weekly, monthly, or quarterly newsletter to your contact list. Run specials or offer discounts via email.
Now it’s time to pack up your business cards and hit the Chamber of Commerce mixer, city council meeting, or other meet and greets around town. This may or may not be your comfort zone, but getting your name and business out there is key in people knowing who you are and what you do.
For all your potential marketing areas, content is king. You’ll need good information on your website, social media sites, and in emails. People love to see before and after photos, plus it really shows your abilities and what you can do. Create a photo portfolio of your work and use it in all your marketing. Offer knowledge, tips, and tricks for free. Share a problem on the job, how you worked through it, and what solutions you employed. Have a question and answer area; this invites people to actively engage with your website or social media and gives you a potential customer. Putting in marketing effort up front help fosters solid leads in the long run.
Bidding Best Practices
Crafting a winning bid is something all construction companies—big and small—must do to get work. Sometimes you may feel like you’re throwing your bids into a black hole, but it’s a necessary part of the business, so understanding how the bidding process works is key.
- Right Stuff: Writing bids takes time, so don’t waste time by bidding on jobs that aren’t in your wheelhouse. Bid on jobs that are right for your business size and skills.
- Be Efficient: Create templates or standard language that you can reuse. You’ll still tailor each bid and its figures to the job at hand and the client needs, but have basic information on your company and how you propose to do certain tasks ready to go. Additionally, having a vetted template cuts down on the errors in spelling and grammar.
- Software: Invest in construction software. This can help you decide which jobs to bid on, give you an idea of estimated costs, and evaluate potential risks. You can also track your bid process pipeline with software. Here are some examples and reviews of Construction Management software: https://softwareconnect.com/construction-management/
Managing Your Reputation
You got the job! You finished the job. Now make sure you capitalize on the good work you did by following up with your customers. Managing your reputation is important; not only do you want to make sure you have a satisfied customer, but it can help you land the next opportunity.
Even with all the effort you put in marketing your brand and business, word of mouth is a powerful advertisement. Be sure to engage your customers toward the end of the project for feedback (don’t wait until after because it may be hard to get them to focus after the work is done and bills are paid). Ask them if they would be willing to provide a short testimonial that you can use in your social media and on your website. Ask them to write a positive Google review, Yelp review, or post pictures on their social media tagging your company name.
Don’t be surprised by a negative review. Be sure to reach out to customers before they trash you. If they are unhappy or have a concern, address it right away so they aren’t left with a bad taste in their mouth about your work product. If you do find yourself on the receiving end of a bad review, follow up immediately to see if you can correct the issue. Don’t leave unhappy clients out in the world. Many customers will pull down a bad review, or change their review to positive feedback if you take the time to make things right.
Incentivize referrals by offering a discount or bonus to clients who refer you. This not only ups your chances of getting new work from word of mouth advertising, but by offering a discount or bonus, your original clients could come back to you with their future projects. That’s a win-win.
Bolster your positive reputation by engaging with your community. Get your name out there by donating to local charities that feed and house citizens. Volunteer at a Habit for Humanity build. This accomplishes three things: it gets your crew working for a good cause, it signifies that you are a conscientious company that cares about its neighbors and, it showcases your construction skills to a new audience. Sponsor a local sports team. There’s no better way to get name recognition than a gaggle of kids wearing your company name on their uniforms.
Effective Marketing Gets Results
Build up your reputation, improve your bid process, and put your construction business on the map. There are many things you can do behind the scenes that will increase the work coming through your doors. And so much can be done on your own or with just a little bit of help. Get out there and make it happen.