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Projects by their very nature are one-off, temporary tasks that see a building or structure go from drawing board to completion. That’s why there’s a constant need for construction companies to be on the lookout for new projects – once their project is over, they are looking for work again.
In the real world, builders try to have full order books stretching well into the foreseeable future. Large companies have tens or hundreds of projects ongoing at any given time. And there’s always the option of subcontracting to help concentrate your available workforce on its core specialisms while bringing in skills from outside. So straight away we can see that there are two potential sources of lead generation: the original clients, and other contractors to partake in a subcontracting relationship.
While it’s good practice to put work out to tender to attract proposals from a number of contractors, it isn’t always the case that this happens. For efficiency and the reassurance of good work, contractors and large customers tend to form relationships with construction firms that make them either the first choice or the only choice, in which case lead generation is much more difficult, and it takes a very good offering and excellent sales and marketing teams to win new work.
Here are the three main types of clients:
This is homeowners, or small-scale landlords, doing building, renovation, repair or extension work. These people will tend to employ builders only a handful of times throughout their lives, so won’t have relationships with favoured contractors as such. They will usually look in the phone book or use search engines to find local builders, although word of mouth plays a role too.
Some builders, for example, those constructing conservatories, advertise widely, including on TV, so that’s another way they are found. They will likely have many employees around the country or region or will subcontract work to local builders.
In this sphere, therefore, lead generation is all about advertising. If you’re looking for small scale building projects, it pays to advertise in your local newspapers, local-based websites and locally targeted Facebook ads, or perhaps using regional radio or TV, depending on your ability to take on multiple clients to justify the spend. Your own website should be optimised to be found by local searchers, too.
Forming relationships with other local construction companies, as well as electrical, gas and other such contractors will never harm you – they often know which jobs are coming up that might require your services.
Businesses large and small are putting out tenders for building projects all the time, or at least in line with economic activity and financial forecasts. This makes them a particularly fertile ground for picking up construction leads.
With such a vast range of business size, from family-owned garden centres to major city centre commercial developments, there are great opportunities for builders with specialisms to take advantage of specific construction needs. However, private businesses are more likely to have favoured contractors working for them, which can make it tricky to penetrate the market (but good news if you’re the favoured one).
When it comes to publicly owned companies, there might be more opportunities, as shareholders will probably demand that they get the best value for money, which should mean competitive tendering, albeit perhaps open to smaller pools of candidates.
However, become known as a trusted expert in the field, and start winning lucrative contracts, and your business can go from strength to strength in this part of the market. But first you need to get your foot in the door, and that’s why it’s essential for constructors to either have dedicated in-house lead generation teams, or to use a third-party lead generation tool for contractors and subcontractors.
Financially speaking, the potential rewards for working for governments and local authorities are very beneficial to builders and civil engineers of all sizes. Not only do they have large amounts of money at their disposal, they are also less likely to default. Unless your work is substandard, you are probably not going to find yourself chasing them through the courts to secure payments for work done.
The range of projects is huge in this area too. It can be anything from play areas and community centres, through road repairs, schools and housing developments, right the way up to major civil engineering projects like bridges, dams, highways, airports and railways.
In all democracies, bidding has to be completely transparent and accountable when working for national governments and local authorities. There can be no whiff of favouritism, nepotism or corruption, which means, in theory at least, that you should have as fair an opportunity to win contracts as the next builder.
That’s not to say that authorities can’t enter into long-term contracts with specific builders – the bidding process can be expensive in itself, and can be considered a drain of public finances. And when it comes to renewal time, a contractor that has done a satisfactory job will almost certainly win the contract, unless a rival can come with a much better offer.
Winning government and local authority contracts is also very helpful for credibility and kudos. It simply looks good on your branding if you can cite projects that prove you’ve undergone very strict scrutiny and still won.
Local and national authority contracts tend to go to builders with a track record behind them, so it’s difficult to win leads as a young business. It’s not impossible, though, especially if you specialise in emerging technologies or innovative techniques. Being local can also help at council and regional level, as it’s seen as putting money back into the community – as long as the standards are met.
In construction, lead generation is partly down to your proven skill as a builder, and partly down to finding the tendered contracts early and preparing the best proposals. Timing and connections play a part too, but these are factors that can be built up with experience.
Barbour ABI is a company that exists to match customers needing construction work with contractors who are able to do it. The customers trust us with finding the best quality candidates, and the contractors save time and money looking for potential leads by passing the responsibility on to us.
If you’re a contractor, apply for your 10 free leads to see the huge benefits we can bring for zero risk. If you’re already convinced, get in touch with our team and look forward to winning high quality clients.