Author Archives: EGO Trip Media

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
3. WANTS
4. WILL KEEP

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.

 

 

Day 1 – GET YOUR BIZ TO WORK!
The BIZ-Success Blueprint For Contractors.
Strategies, Systems & Structure To Grow & Make A Profit.

Day 2 – GROW YOUR BIZ!
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.

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
Banks
Medical buildings
Hospitals
Self storage
Renovations
Interior Improvements
Utility Company Projects
Housing Tracts
Custom homes
Residential remodeling
Residential home upgrades
Residential replacement work
Site improvements

Public Works Construction
Schools
Offices
Hospitals
Facilities
Roads & highways
Transportation projects
Sewer & water projects
Storm drain systems
Plants

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
Apartments
Shops and yards
Industrial buildings
Offices
Shopping Centers

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

The 5% Factor: Produce More To Make More (part 1 of 3)

In the good old days, construction companies were owned and run by builders. These proud, tough, hard working men (and women) learned their trade in the field, had years of practical experience, and knew what it took to get their projects finished on-time. If they didn’t produce quality workmanship, they didn’t last long. Back then it was all about getting the work done no matter what it took to meet their obligations. It was about delivering solid structures with unsurpassed craftsmanship. The contracts were negotiated face to face and enacted with handshakes based on integrity, reputation, trust, one’s word, and doing what’s right. It was all about building a project the contractor could remember, be proud of, and then rely on their customers for recommendations and new work.

Fast forward to today. Now successful construction companies are run by professional managers, engineers, and accountants. These business leaders are focused on the bottom-line and following what is only required by the contract. These managers have college degrees and little or no construction field experience. It’s now about paperwork, documentation, notices, claims, and tracking systems. Building the project isn’t as important as getting the work, doing the paperwork, and getting paid, even if it involves litigation.

Combine this lack of real field construction experience at the top of many companies today with the lower and lower profit margins. Years ago there was not enough qualified construction companies to handle all the work available in the marketplace. Under this business climate, contractors could afford to always do a little extra to insure a perfect project and still make a good profit.

More demands = less profits!
But over the last 40 years, the number of contractors has tripled while the total amount of construction has stayed relatively flat (adjusted for inflation). Therefore now there are more contractors than needed to do all the work required by the market. This has created a price squeeze and reduced contractor’s ability to do more than the minimum required by their contract. In addition, with increasing competition, construction customers are now demanding more than ever before. They now demand faster schedules, safer projects, better quality, more communications, better technology, all at much lower prices.

These added customer demands on contractors who are willing to sign contracts for less than they should, have killed the construction business as it once was. Add to these demands poor architectural plans, problematic engineering, incomplete specifications, conflicting contract documents, material shortages, price fluxuations, more regulations, added paperwork, lender’s requirements, third party inspections, construction managers, and red tape, has all but eliminated a fair profit for the risk contractors take.

It’s time to refocus on the field!
These issues have put pressure on contractors to save more and more money in the field. The average crew size has increased, while the number of experienced field workers on the crews have decreased. Training is a thing of the past as most employers have eliminated it as an unnecessary expense. Superintendents and foreman are younger than ever which also translates into less experienced field leadership and less efficient crews. This has resulted in poor or flat field productivity improvements over the last twenty years. Consider your challenges fighting against competitors who charge less than they should, have inexperienced and untrained field crews, and building projects that now require more paperwork and increased risk. A need now emerges for contractors to refocus on improving field productivity as their only viable solution to compete and improve their profit margins.

Construction profitability is about reducing risk. Contracts require contractors to assume more risk than ever today. Have you considered what’s at stake?

Types Of Construction Business Risk:

– Project Loc. & Access – Project Type & Sz
– Project Sch. & Duration – Constructability
– Customer – Architect, Eng. & Consultants
– Contract Terms – Financial , Funding & Pymt.
– Regs & Inspections – Subcontractors & Suppliers
– Material Costs & Aval. – Plans & Specifications
– Approvals & Acceptance – Project Management
– Supervision & Coord. – Manpower, Prod. & Safety
– Quality & Workmanship – Estimate & Budget
– Factors Beyond Control

So how do you reduce risk and increase your bottom-line? Your choices are many. But consider which will give you the biggest return on your time, energy, and money. In other words, where can your company gain the biggest advantage over your competitors?

– Lower Material Costs
– Better Subs. Costs
– Better Equipment
– Better Supervision
– Better Project Mgmt.
– Labor Productivity

Can You Build Your Business Alone Or In A Vacuum?

Eastern USA Executive Round-table Peer Groups Forming Now

Business has been tough over the last few years. But the economy is finally at the bottom of the decline. Many of you have restructured and retooled. Some have made extensive changes and redrafted your business plans. And some of your competitors have closed their companies.

My expectation is that it can’t get any worse and now is the time to start regrouping and getting back into business in a bigger way.  Think about where you are now (not where you were). And what you need to do to double your current business over the next 3 to 4 years. Perhaps you need a new strategy, team, marketing plan, services, or customers. Whatever you need to do, one thing is for sure:

You Can’t Do It Alone!
With that reality in mind, I am starting a regular peer group program where you can meet with like-minded business owners to help each other see and do what it takes to meet your goals. I am opening the group to my Profit Builder Circle graduates and clients first and we will cap the group at 10 to 14 companies. So far I have 7 reservations including very successful business owners: masonry contractor, civil contractor, commercial general contractor, landscape maintenance company, apartment renovation contractor, mechanical contractor, steel building contractor.

I am personally inviting you to join us!
You understand the Profit-Builder philosophy and would be a valuable part of this dynamic group. I know you don’t want to spend the $$$ or time, but you need to invest in your future to get where you want to go. A few days twice a year will invigorate and energize your growth and allow you to actually talk to others facing the same issues you do. Plus it will be fun and you’ll build lasting friendships with other business owners you can call on during the year.

This is designed for business owners like YOU!
I highly recommend you consider this Executive Round-table Peer Group offer to join.  You will be a part of a compatible group of 10 to 12 focused company owners and can learn from how others make their companies work.  The group will meet twice a year for 2 days plus I will Phone Coach you several times between the meetings.

Join us at the first meeting in Atlanta – September 29 & 30th, 2011.
Please call or send me an email to reserve your place as a member of this group.

If you are tired of running your company alone, join us! You need a trusted group of advisers, like a personal Board of Directors who’ll help you make the right decisions how to grow your business and make more money. You can be part of a small group of compatible business owners in a regularly structured support group discussing & solving your issues.

Every business owner or principal can benefit from a personal board of advisers that meets on a regular basis. Today’s business executives face increasingly difficult challenges. Competition is fierce, resources are stretched and every day it gets tougher. Its lonely running your company yourself and making every decision without the benefit and input from other people who face the same challenges as you do. Now you can tap into the ideas and wisdom of a small group of success driven entrepreneurs in a professionally lead ongoing board of director’s style setting. As a member of an ongoing Executive Roundtable Peer Group, you’ll generate fresh thinking, new ideas and clear perspectives on what decisions you need to make.

The first meeting will be held in Atlanta and then rotate between member’s locations. (If we get enough West Coast members, we can then split off a Western USA group as well.) The locations will be from Central USA to Chicago to Washington DC to Atlanta and east.

SPECIAL OFFER
Join before July 15th, 2011 and receive a 10% discount on you first year’s dues. Plus the initial one time $500 start-up fee will be waived.

Shall We Talk To See If This Is For You?
Please call or email me to talk about how this program can help you build your business.

George Hedley CSP LPBC
Certified Speaking Professional
Licensed Professional  Business Coach
Author of ‘Get Your Business To Work!’

 HARDHAT Presentations
Hardhat BIZCOACH
– Helping Entrepreneurs & Contractors Get Their Businesses To Work!

     Email:  
gh@HardhatPresentations.com
Website:
www.HardhatPresentations.com

It’s Bonus Consideration Time!

I hate bonus time and figuring out how much extra to pay employees at year end. People today expect a year-end bonus or incentive compensation for their efforts. Plus they need the extra $$$ to pay for all their holiday shopping and expenditures. Sometimes bonuses even seem like an entitlement instead of compensation for extra effort and results. What should I do? I try to be generous but the economy is slow and profits are dwindling. Should I pay out lots of cash and hope there is enough to last the next year? Or should I tell everyone there just isn’t enough to go around this year? Or should I get everyone a turkey and tell them to have a great holiday? Here is an email I received from a reader of Construction Business Owner magazine. I write an “Ask The Expert” column every month.

Question: George, As I sit at my computer I’m reflecting on how blessed I am as an individual and business owner. I have been wrestling for some time with how to fairly compensate our senior management team comprised of 6 people: three senior guys including me and three young VP’s of Operations, Administration, and Business Development. These 3 attended your two day Profit Builder Circle boot camp recently in Atlanta which definitely reinforced my philosophies and mentoring of these 3 young men. You really do a great job.

Do you have any suggestions on incentives or bonuses for the management team? In the past, we have used a program that established a set percentage of net income for retained earnings; a set percentage for owners as a return on their ownership equity, and a certain percentage of net income as a bonus to the management team. But now, the older management team members are not putting forth nearly the effort they used to. They bring a lot to the table, but their interest and drive has waned. It is an entitlement problem in my opinion as they are financially secure. I have positioned the 3 younger VPs to run the company and they are doing great and progressing well, but I’m not quite ready to turn things over to them completely. I am still very involved as the CEO and mentor these young managers on the business side.

How do I compensate the 3 younger managers for running the company? How should the older managers be compensated for their ownership, even if they are not providing much on a daily basis as they are being paid a six figure salary now? And what percent is recommended for retained earnings?

I hope to back further away from this business this coming year and improve my golf handicap and want to be fair to everyone, old and new. We have built a very successful specialty service business and my goal is to continue to monitor our processes and procedures and continue to find new ways to improve while continuing to grow all our people. I know there is no magic formulas but I thought you might share your thoughts on this topic. Ken D. CEO -CES LLC

My Answer: Ken, as your older managers get more conservative and less enthusiastic about growing your company, it is time to make a positive change for everyone. First stop confusing compensation with return on equity. Everyone needs to be paid a fair salary and compensated for their contributions based on what the fair market value demands for the job they perform. If an employee is worth $50,000, that is their salary without exception. If they aren’t worth that amount, pay them less or more accordingly.

Profit is return on shareholder’s equity. Owners should share the profits based on their stock ownership less what you keep in the company as retained earnings before profit distribution. The older managers should be paid a salary based on exactly what they are worth to your company. If they only work a few days, they get paid less. As owners, they participate in the overall company profits. If you want to give them a little more like a car, health insurance, or extra pay, that is a gift for tenure and a result of your soft heart. But remember, the extra compensation you pay the older owners for not working a full load makes your overhead higher than it really is, makes you less competitive in the marketplace, and forces you to pay out profit before your really earn it. This actually reduces your company’s net profit and lowers the incentive potential for your younger managers.

The key managers who run your company should receive a healthy salary and benefits based on what they are worth as well. Plus give them a percentage of the pre-tax profit for their efforts and contributions. I recommend the first 15% return on equity stay in the company before any profit split takes place. If the 3 managers are 100% responsible for the company results, allow them to earn up to 35% of the profits as their incentive. Then the owners will receive the next 50% of profits as their return. – George

Well now it’s your turn to decide if company bonuses are in order for your employees. Good luck doing the right thing. If you have any good employee compensation ideas, email me please post them here or on our LinkedIN Group HardHat Biz Hub.