Bug ‘Em Til They Buy Or Die!

I bet you hate to make cold calls. Thankfully, over the last ten years or more, you didn’t need to cold call, market, or sell much to win your share of contracts or profitable work. The phone just kept ringing and you stayed busy. You also like it when potential customers call you with jobs to bid or propose on. This ‘old school’ marketing plan of letting your reputation speak for itself and waiting for referrals to grow your business used to work. Now it doesn’t.

In today’s tough work environment, that old school marketing plan doesn’t work. So in the new normal of less work and more competition, you need to make outbound sales calls and implement a marketing system to keep your pipeline full of potential projects to bid. The following is my simple marketing system that doesn’t require cold calls. Instead, it’s more like a form of that Chinese water torture you saw in the old movies — Drip! Drip! Drip! I call it: ‘Bug ‘Em Til They Buy or Die!’

‘Bug ‘Em Til The Buy Or Die’ marketing system:
1. Create Awareness Of Your Company
2. Pique Potential Customer’s Interest
3. Stay at Top of Customer’s Mind
4. Generate Inquiry
5. Get Belly To Belly / Face To Face
6. Convert a Bid or Proposal Into a Contract
7. Develop Customer Relationships
8. Get Referrals

The 8 step ‘Bug ‘Em ‘Til They Buy Or Die’ marketing system is designed to move the prospective customer through all eight marketing steps without a single cold call. The goal of this system is to get potential customers TO CALL YOU versus you calling them.

The ‘Bug ‘Em’ system builds an AWARENESS of your company and what you can DO for customers over a period of time. Drip! Awareness is based upon the ‘Rule of Seven.’

The Rule Of Seven
You must have at least seven contacts with a potential customer before they:
– Remember YOUR NAME
– Feel they KNOW YOU
– TRUST you
– Will TAKE ANY ACTION towards you

To grow both our construction and speaking businesses, we use the trusted U.S. postal service to make potential customers AWARE of us. Drip! We mail something to everyone on our mailing list at least 4 times per year. Drip! Drip! Once is not enough and we don’t just mail any old boring piece of mail. We send creative, different, unique, fun, factual, caring, and informative articles, photos, postcards, white papers, mini-brochures, checklists, and guides. We use a professional design firm to keep our image consistent. Orange and blue are our colors. Everyone recognizes our orange hardhat or our blueprint background on every piece of mail we send out. Drip! Drip! Drip! Now you’re creating and building AWARENESS. Everything you send out must do one of three things:

– Pique customer INTEREST
– Create a Perception of VALUE
– Reinforce customer RELATIONSHIP

To pique customer INTEREST, you must send out something different, crazy, funny, eye catching, bold or unique. You want to stand out from the crowd and make a statement. Try to be clever, creative, and fun enough to create the ‘WOW!’ factor. Never send those same old throw-away pens, ball caps, and notepads like everyone else. If you send out cheap stuff or tacky give-aways, your potential customers will think you’re cheap, have low standards, and not financially strong enough to handle their work. Send professionally created materials that consistently reflect your image. Quality counts.

Match your mail-outs to your customer targets. We use a newsletter that looks like a blueprint for our construction customers. But to attract bank investors we use traditional white stationary with blue ink. On a mailing to lawyers we sent out messages on legal pads and when we mail to meeting planners, we use a theme based on helping them make THEIR meeting a success. To attract investors for real estate development projects, we send out aerial photos of the neighborhood along with pictures and renderings packaged in typical real estate folders. Potential customers respond to the familiar.

To peak their INTEREST we also rotate mailing out cartoons, jokes, small hardhats, mini CDs or DVDs, estimating grid notepads, paper clip holders, coffee cups with hammer handles, business card holders, post-it notes, golf tees, golf ball markers, and American flags on the 4th of July! Once we mailed envelopes full of nails with the banner: “When can we nail down your next job?”! Last year I sent postcards from Maui, Hawaii with the note: “Thanks to my loyal customers for sending me skiing. I appreciate your business!” The best things to mail are items that pack flat, play big, and will not be thrown away. Don’t forget to put your name and logo on all of your ‘Bug ‘Em Til They Buy Or Die’ mail.

Only send what your customer:
1. Will READ
2. Needs TO KNOW

Remember your goal is not only to create INTEREST, but to create the right kind of interest in YOU. Be sure that your mail creates the right perception of VALUE about your company ans how it does business. You have to tell your potential customers what you want THEM to REMEMBER ABOUT YOU. Don’t assume customers know what you know about you. To show potential customer targets we were more than a small “local” company, we sent out maps indicating our project locations covering a 100-mile radius. To show we were qualified in a new business market, we sent out photos and resumes of key managers with years of experience in this “new for us” area. To create the perception of fast service, we mailed out “On-Time Schedulers” and photos of projects with the headline: “Another Successful Fast-Track Project”. Decide what perception of VALUE you want to present to your customers and tell them about it – OVER & OVER & OVER! Continue reading

Sales Is A Numbers Game!

What business activity makes the most $$$ for your company? I bet you didn’t say: ‘Sales!’ To most contractors, their total sales effort is no more than picking up a set of plans from a customer, estimating the job, turning in a bid, and then waiting for the results. They rely heavily on price to sell most jobs. As the economy has gotten worse, and work is harder and harder to get, many company owners have thought about how to increase their sales. Some have even decided to hire a salesperson to increase their revenue. But then what? These frustrated owners don’t know how to manage a salesperson to get the results they need or want.

Sales is easy!

It’s a numbers game. When competent salespeople make regular sales calls on good prospects who need what you offer, your company will get their share of the business. When you don’t make the calls, you won’t get the business. It’s like professional hockey. The team that takes the most shots, usually wins the game. The more sales calls, the more business. Simple and easy.

Most business owners don’t like to make sales calls. So they try to encourage their estimator to make them. Most estimators are not built to sell. They are built to analyze at a set of plans, use their calculators and computers, and put a price on a specified amount of work. Like business owners, estimators also they don’t like to get out of their comfort zone, go out and make sales calls, and spend a majority of their time selling. So, in tight markets, small business owners often want to hire salespeople to solve their lack of revenue problem.

Why do companies struggle?

A major reason small to medium size companies struggle is caused by a lack of a systemized and focused on sales and marketing plan. They mainly rely on their reputation to earn the right to be awarded enough work to make a reasonable profit. This works in good times, but not during a slower economy. Successful companies must have written sales systems and marketing plans that pro-actively and aggressively look for and attack new customers, targets, and contracts.

As I observe the successful subcontractors who our general contracting company use, there is a common thread. They have a plan to find and attract new customers and follow it diligently. Every week the come by our office as a part of their sales route to meet with our project managers, and build relationships with our people. They are always in the selling mode and ready when we have an opportunity for them. The majority of subcontractors wait until we call them, the successful contractors are already there waiting for an opportunity to attack.

A pro-active sales plan starts with a business owner or general sales manager who will hold their salespeople to a required standard of performance excellence. These required standards can include the number of calls per day, number of customer lunches per week, number of face to face meetings per week, number of proposals, and total proposal volume per month. To know how you’re doing, you’ve got to keep score.

Keeping score with salespeople is often difficult, as they tend to not want to be tied down to a set number of calls required. They like to let their instincts take them through the day. They don’t like to be held accountable or to a minimum standard, and don’t like to track numbers. They also don’t like to write, don’t like discipline, and don’t want to follow a written plan. They generally feel their gift of gab will get them through and reap enough results. But without numbers to hit, most salespeople will fail and not meet your expectations.

Sales numbers to track:
– The type of customers you want
– The markets you want to attack
– The project locations you like
– The project sizes you want
– The minimum fee per job
– Sales calls per day
– Leads from calls
– Face to face meetings per week
– Proposals from leads
– Proposal follow-up tracking
– Proposals or bids hit
– Referrals from customers
– Average job size
– Average profit margin
Continue reading

Last Chance to Register for the Profit Builder Circle Academy

Profit-Builder Circle Academy
July 26 & 27, 2012
Newport Beach, CA

Last Chance To Visit Me In California?
For those of you who have requested I hold my Profit Builder Circle Academy in California, here’s your last chance to get the 50% discount.



The BIZ-Success Blueprint For Contractors.
Strategies, Systems & Structure To Grow & Make A Profit.

How To Find New Customers & Win More Contracts.
Steps & Strategies To Overcome The Low Bid Process.

You’re Invited!
We will have a small group attending. So this guarantees you’ll get lots of personal attention from George Hedley. The cost includes a detailed workbook, a copy of his new book and 2 complete days with George who’ll teach you how to grow and make a profit.

The regular price is $1,997. But, for this July Academy, the cost is only $997. PLUS – additional attendees can attend for $297.

Register today – email leanne@HardhatPresentations.com for the brochure and registration form.

Draft A Winning Playbook!

I played a lot of touch football when I was around ten years old. Eight of us boys from the neighborhood would gather at our local park and choose teams. Then the two teams would line up across from each other, agree on the rules, and get ready to start the game. After a coin toss, one team would kick off to their opponent. The receiving team would have their fastest player catch the ball and run down the field as far as he could without being tackled. A tackle occurred when the defensive player touched the runner with two hands below the waist.

Then the offensive team huddled to decide their offensive play for the next down. The quarterback usually called the plays, even though he wasn’t always the smartest player on the team. He was usually the one who was the tallest, fastest, or had the best arm. Obviously, there wasn’t a playbook nor did the teams have time to practice their game plan. Before each down, the inexperienced quarterback gathered his team in a huddle and called plays based on what he thought would work and surprise the opponent. The players were also loosely told what position to play, who would run which way, who’s job it was to block, and where they were to go. Not a very good strategy for a winning outcome.

Are you better than a 10 year old?
Think about your company. Is your business strategy better than a neighborhood pickup football game? Do you huddle up before every decision? Do you tell your players what to do before every project? Do they know what to do based on written systems and strategies from your company playbook? A professional football team is a good model to copy for small business owners. Professional teams have a written strategies for every season and each game. They also have written plays designed to work in every situation they encounter. Do you?

Unless you want to run your company like a young inexperienced quarterback, you need a winning playbook to follow. Thinking like a professional sports team, what needs to be in your company’s business plan?

1. Overall company mission, vision and values
2. Coaching and staff assignments and responsibilities
3. List of players and their strengths & weaknesses
4. Training program
5. Equipment inventory management
6. Offensive plays and strategy
7. Defensive plays and strategy
8. Business development plays
9. Financial plays and strategy

Draft your business playbook!
A professional team must have all their bases covered to put a winning team on the field plus make as much money as possible. Where should you start to draft a winning game plan?

1. Determine your overall company mission, vision and values
Sit down with your key managers and take time to discuss why you are business and what’s the purpose for owning your company? This exercise will get you focused on the real reason you go to work every day. I often ask business owners why they are in business. They answer: ‘to make money doing whatever they do like plumbing or construction.’ You are not in business to do plumbing or construction. You are in business to maximize your resources of time, energy and money so you can get the biggest return in whatever manner you desire.

For example, a construction company is a great start to achieve what you want. It is very rewarding but demanding work. But, it is limited in net profit margin potential as it is very cyclical with thin margins. In my opinion, a construction company creates an excellent opportunity to seek opportunities to build wealth versus just building for others. When you build for customers, that allows you to make some money. When you build for yourself, that allows for passive income, freedom, and equity growth. What is your overall company mission, vision and values? Continue reading


2 Day Intense BIZ-Building Boot-Camp
June 14 & 15, 2012 – Charleston, NC
July 26 & 27, 2012 – Newport Beach, CA

“HELP! I’m Stuck! I Want My BIZ To Work!”
Want To GROW Your BIZ In Tough Times?
Want More Bottom-Line PROFIT?
Want A Great Management Team?
Want Written Goals & Plans?
Want Organized SYSTEMS?
Want To Let Go & GROW?
Want New Customers?
Want To Make More $$$?

Stop waiting for the economy to turn around!
Let me help you get your business back to work!
Profit-Builder Circle Academy 2 Day Boot-Camp Outline

Day1: Get Your BIZ Back To Work!
How To Build A BIZ That Grows & Always Makes A Profit!

Most business owners work too many hours for the money they make. They’re too hands-on, stressed-out, out of control, over-worked and under-paid for the energy they put into their companies. They’re stuck, don’t know what to do next and need help!

Learn how to take your company to the next level, get organized and in-control, create a dynamic organizational chart and management team, develop operational systems, design a working marketing plan, develop streams of steady income, build equity, create wealth, and get your business to work for you.

George Hedley, professional business coach, author of the bestseller: “Get Your Business To Work!” and a “Entrepreneur of the Year” award winner will share how to implement his proven step by step system. You can get the results you want without your full-time hands-on, make-every-decision supervision by making sound decisions so you can enjoy the benefits of a growing company.

Upon completing this program, the participant should be able to:
1. Create a written business plan with targets and goals for growth, people, sales, systems, and profit.

2. Build a business that works, replace yourself with operational systems and build your company to meet your goals.

3. Develop written BIZ-Systems to always make a profit, market and sell, find and keep great people, get organized & in-control.

4. Create an organization and team that allows the owner to let go of control and focus on priorities that make a difference in the bottom-line.

Day 2: Grow Your BIZ!
Find New Customers, Win More Contracts & Stop Selling Low Price!

Being low bidder won’t win enough profitable work today! To develop a successful BIZDevelopment action plan to grow your BIZ, generate more sales and win more construction contracts, you’ve got to give customers better reasons to award your company work.

Learn how to improve your estimating and bidding strategy, set your company apart from the competition, differentiate, build loyal customer relationships, seek better opportunities, get on the right bid lists, find more viable leads, convert proposals into contracts, improve your professional presentations, develop an effective bid follow-up system, and track your bid-hit ratio.

You’ll leave with a winning marketing & estimating template and calendar to build loyal customer relationships, negotiate more work, offer more than low price, and get in front of decision makers to win more work.

Upon completing this program, the participant should be able to:
1. Implement a winning BIZ-Development, marketing, sales, proposal, estimating and bidding strategy to win more profitable customers and contracts.

2. Develop an action plan, template and calendar to find new customers, markets, projects,and value-added services to win more work.

3. Get in front of decision makers, negotiate to win, present professional presentations, and follow-up to win more negotiated work.

4. Build loyal customer relationships, set your company apart from the competition & offer more than low price.

5. Add more services to generate ongoing steady work.

Don’t Be Left Out!
Sign-Up Today To Get The 
50% Discount!
Expires May 21, 2012 

Email me for more information, a complete brochure or the registration form:
Email: GH@HardhatPresentations.com

Hire the Right Players Now!

If you were the owner of a NBA basketball team, one of your top goals would be to have the best players on your team. With only five players on the court at any one time, every one of them is critical to winning. If you don’t do a good job hiring the right players, your team won’t win many games. And eventually the fans will stop coming out and spending their money on tickets. In other words, the success of your winning team is to have the right players on the floor at all times.

Business owners tell me they can’t find any good help. But how much time do they actually spend finding the right players? What you get is a direct result of your priorities. When you don’t take enough time to find, cultivate, and train new players, how do you expect to grow a winning team? Professional sports teams have a full time executive in charge of player personnel – finding the right players, managing their contracts, and keeping them happy. But most small companies don’t spend more than a few hours a year making sure their roster is balanced, robust, and excellent.

Before the annual draft, every professional sports coaching staff makes a list of all the positions and their current players to analyze what they need to change or add to improve. In your company, the draft is now. To get started, make a list of all of your company positions, the talents required at each job, the player currently assigned each position, and then rank how well you think they are doing.

Player Personnel Ranking Chart
Position Talent Required Player Ranking

  • Estimator Knows accurate costs Jim B C+
  • Completes bids on-time Jim B A-
  • Maximizes sub-bid coverage Jim B B-
  • Presents company well Jim B B
  • Project Manager Manages budget Bill C+
  • Maximizes change orders Bill B
  • Keeps customer happy Bill A
  • Paperwork on-time Bill B-
  • Superintendent Finishes jobs on-time Dave A
  • Pushes crews to the max Dave B+
  • Safe jobsite and no accidents Dave C-
  • Coordinates subcontractors Dave B-
  • Foreman Manages crews and jobsite Sam B-
  • Brings jobs in under budget Sam C
  • Knows how to build quality Sam A
  • Follows company procedures Sam C-
  • Carpenter Can build per plans Joe A-
  • Hustles & works efficiently Joe B
  • Takes initiative & action Joe B-
  • Team Player & good attitude Joe D
  • Office Manager Completes tasks on-time Sue B-
  • Understands accounting Sue C+
  • Understands construction Sue B+
  • Team player & good attitude Sue A Continue reading

Fill The Seats Or Go Broke!

If you were the owner of a NFL football team, your number one goal would be to fill all the seats every week. To fill seats takes a multiple approach. You must put a winning product on the field and you must sell seats. Seats don’t sell themselves. It takes a huge effort to create sellouts at profitable ticket prices.

Over the last ten years, you didn’t have to sell very hard to keep profitable revenue flowing into your company’s coffers. If you put a mediocre team on the field, called the usual plays, and used an average business strategy, your customers would keep coming back for more, if your price was somewhat competitive. And because business was plentiful, you didn’t have to try to win over many new customers. You stayed focused on doing the same type of work for the same type of customers and your business grew. Because there was enough work, you also didn’t have to try different types of projects, customers, or contract delivery methods. In fact, you even prided yourself as a specialist in a very focused type of business niche.

Fast forward. Today it is hard to fill the seats, revenue is scarce, and customers are hard to find. Having a winning team doesn’t matter if they can’t find a game to play in. You’ve cut your overhead and reduced your expenses as low as you can to survive. You continue to bid more and more work against too many competitors at lower and lower prices. Now you are even calling on new and potential customers you really never wanted to work for. You’re trying to get on any bid list you can including public works, which you always avoided because of the paperwork and prevailing wage issues. You’ve assigned your office manager or estimator to cold-calling and emailing any lead they can find in hopes of a miracle. Nothing is working and getting new business at a reasonable price is next to impossible.

Now what? You’re thinking you’ve got to fill the seats with paying customers or go broke. If the sudden slowdown in the economy taught everyone one thing: ‘Putting all your eggs in one basket won’t work forever.’ Many contractors and business owners focused their efforts on doing only one kind of project and service for one type of customer. For example, to keep revenue and jobs flowing in, many focused on only building housing tracts, or shopping centers, or industrial parks, or custom homes, or office building interiors. Some focused on building for general contractors, developers, or home builders. Some expanded and did more than one type of project. But, most didn’t crossover into totally different or diverse types of work. And offering a service component to their revenue stream wasn’t even considered as they were too busy to mess with little jobs.

Multiple streams of income sells more seats!
A diverse business plan includes three types of revenue streams with many different types of projects per stream. For example, here is a partial list of the unlimited revenue and business opportunities contractors have to choose from:

Multiple Revenue Streams & Opportunities          

1. Contracts & Bids

Private Construction
Retail shopping centers
National chain stores
Industrial buildings
Manufacturing & factories
Metal buildings
Office buildings
Medical buildings
Self storage
Interior Improvements
Utility Company Projects
Housing Tracts
Custom homes
Residential remodeling
Residential home upgrades
Residential replacement work
Site improvements

Public Works Construction
Roads & highways
Transportation projects
Sewer & water projects
Storm drain systems

2. Service Work & Ongoing Accounts

Ongoing Monthly Or Annual Accounts
Property management
HVAC maintenance
Electrical maintenance
Plumbing maintenance
Landscape maintenance
Site service & management
Spring & winterization
Light bulb replacement
Roof service
Road and drainage repair work
Generator service
Energy management & controls

Repairs & Service To Fix Broken Components
Plumbing & mechanical repairs & upgrades
Window replacement
Tenant improvements
Tenant relocation
Carpet and flooring service
Building damage repair
Clean-up and debris removal

3. Wealth Building & Passive Income

Own income producing real estate

Rental homes
Shops and yards
Industrial buildings
Shopping Centers

Own income producing businesses
Rental equipment companies
Wholesale materials
Services Continue reading

5 ‘Must Do’ New Year Resolutions!

It is almost 1 month into 2012 and things are already moving too fast. Hopefully you took a few moments and wrote out your goals for the next 12 months. Written targets and goals will insure you get what you want by keeping you focused. Less than 20% of all business owners actually write out their goals. And guess what? These top 20% are in the top 20% of the most successful business owners in their marketplace. A simple way to start is to write out these 5 goals:

1. Don’t be an island! 
Get involved with a group of like-minded business owners to seek advice, share challenges, get invigorated, and get accountable with on a regular basis. Personally, I made a decision to join a structured weekly group of men who discuss their personal and professional lives facilitated by a top business/life coach in our area. Consider looking into joining one of our BIZ-GROUPS or a local group in your area. Bottom-line – do it!

2. Take time to plan your plays!

Bill gates said that the best thing he did while building Microsoft was to take his management team away on a regular basis to plan for the future. At these regular retreats they discussed their strategy, options, new opportunities, what’s working, what’s not, and what they need to do to achieve their goals. When you don’t plan your future, you get what the market gives you instead of paving your own path.

3. Innovate or die!
Your business won’t work doing what you did when the economy was growing. In a flat economy, you have to change your business and evolve into a new kind of profit making machine. What new customers, markets, systems, technology, people, production methods, contract type, services, and products should you add or delete from your business to grow fast. Sit down and rate every part of your business as: keep doing, stop doing, start doing, or change how we do it.

4. Revamp your calendar!
Your calendar says it all. If you want to save money, your calendar is full of job meetings, ordering materials, scheduling crews, and doing take-offs. If you are focused on making money, it’s full of time with loyal customers, new customer targets, networking, mingling with potential customers, and building relationships. At least 33% of your time needs to be with customers having fun and enjoying each other. Make it your goal to revamp your calendar and pro-actively grow your business.

5. Put yourself first!
When I coach business owners, we always look at the income statements to see how they are doing. I almost always notice that business owner pay themselves way too little for the time, risk, and work they perform. In addition, their investments are often slim or none. When you put other people, employees, and customers ahead of yourself, you can’t do the best you are capable of. Customers want to do business with successful people, not poor struggling people. Make a commitment to pay yourself what you are worth and start an investment program starting now. Then spend the rest on overhead and expenses.

Do-Over #2: Diversify, Market & Serve Customers Sooner Than Later!

When business is steady with lots of bidding opportunities coming your way, it’s easy to keep busy working for a limited number of customers doing the same type of projects. This business model works during a good economy. Once you establish a few repeat customers, they continue to feed you work to bid on. You don’t have to go out and find new customers. You don’t have to market or sell. You don’t need an updated brochure or impressive website. And you don’t have to have a customer service or follow-up program. Work is easy to get: wait for the phone to ring, pick up a set of plans, and go bid the job. If you bid enough, you’ll get your share.

The second most popular “Do-Over” I hear from seasoned business owners is they wish they would have built up a broader base of customers, worked on many different type of projects, and developed a solid marketing and referral program that delivered diversified types of profitable work. Today I hear sad stories of underground contractors who kept very busy only doing private housing tracts for a few homebuilders. I also hear similar stories from contractors who didn’t want to mess with government jobs because of all the added paperwork. And I hear stories from companies who didn’t add any extra services like green technology, design-build, post construction services, or maintenance to attract and keep customers. These companies are now left without any customers. Continue reading

The Business Do Over!

In sports, the coach gets to start over every season. Winning coaches look at their past records and make positive decisions of what they need to drastically change and achieve better results. If they continue to play the game the same as they did last several seasons, they won’t continue to build and win. They have to look at how they play the game, players, coaches, methods, offense and defense, training, strategy, and tactics.

Now imagine it’s your turn to start a new season. You are the coach of your business and want to keep your job and make a lot of money for the owners. What should you do differently to win the game of business? What tough decisions should you make? What new plays will you call? What players should you replace? Where should you play the game and how? Will you keep doing what you’ve always done or decide to do whatever it takes to grow your business and make a profit? Below is the list of the top “Do-Overs” I hear from the many business owners I have surveyed.

Do-Over # 1: Invest Sooner Than Later!
When your business was busy, you didn’t have enough time to stop and look for investments. And you were growing, so most all of your cash-flow went to fund your company’s growth. The snowball effect was keeping you excited as your business got bigger and bigger. It was like a shot of adrenaline as you did more and more work. The more you grew, the bigger you wanted to get. Volume is addictive, so you bid work too cheap and never missed an opportunity to grow or gain a customer. Everyone thought this gravy train would never end. Continue reading