maintaining a pipeline of projects in the off-season
As busy season comes to an end and colder weather approaches, it’s time for contractors to consider how they’ll maintain a steady pipeline of projects through the winter. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to maximize the bottom line even during the offseason, including utilizing new technology and resources, embracing social media, on-site upselling, or tackling pre-project planning.
TRAINING, RESOURCES, AND TECHNOLOGY
One of the most obvious—and most challenging—ways to maximize profits is to make sure that on-site time is spent efficiently. Time is easily wasted on manually calculating product estimates, creating and tackling shopping lists or, worst of all, correcting mistakes. Investing in training is key to ensuring that the project stays on schedule. It might require additional time and capital upfront, but this investment will show its value by reducing the number of mistakes made, saving significant time and money in the long run. In addition, third-party resources like concrete calculators can be extremely beneficial for contractors by offloading repetitive and time-consuming tasks.
Other resources that can be helpful for saving time and money on the jobsite are mobile applications. With recent developments in this technology, augmented reality (AR) mobile apps allow for contractors to determine the amount of product they will need for their projects more quickly than with a measuring tape, which can help contractors save costs on inaccurate calculations and save time. Additionally, some versions of this technology can allow contractors to show their clients what the final product will look like. Mobile applications, including those utilizing AR, can also provide helpful resources such as product recommendations and data sheets, and can connect contractors to the closest retailers with available product to cut down on wasted trips. On top of that, apps can help contractors coordinate with their crew, providing shopping lists for streamlined communication.
Another simple technology that can be implemented into jobsites is drones. Commercial project jobsites are usually quite large, making it time consuming to survey the land before a project. Drones reduce the labor and time involved in the survey process, as well as eliminate the human error aspect. With drones, contractors are able to monitor their jobsite from above. Drones can also be used to survey the project area in order to identify safety hazards in the area before starting on a project.
EMBRACING SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS
Social media continues to grow in importance as a channel for business owners to gain new customers and turn one-time customers into repeat business. By providing current or potential customers with an additional way to find, evaluate, and interact with your brand, social media creates a very unique opportunity for businesses, providing some significant payoff without too much effort. Of course, success will go with up the amount of time invested, but even with a small amount of effort contractors can still reap the rewards of a broadened reach, improved exposure, and a platform to highlight invaluable reviews from satisfied customers.
Photo-driven platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are great opportunities for contractors to showcase their finished products. The profiles contractors create on these platforms allow for contractors to create an online portfolio for new and returning customers to see. Additionally, for those considering paid advertisements on social media, Facebook is a great platform to start with. Especially on a local level, Facebook is increasingly where first-time customers will go to seek out reviews and business information before making contact with a contractor—being here is a must.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT PRODUCT
When it comes to the actual project, and choosing the correct product for the job and the client’s budget is maybe the most important consideration—the numbers on the front end are crucial to winning the job, and results on the back end are what make the difference between a one-time customer and a satisfied repeat customer who will refer you to others.
One way to maximize profits is by using less expensive materials that will still provide clients with the look and feel they were envisioning.
For exterior projects such as outdoor areas, driveways and walkways, natural stone is the most expensive option as it has to be quarried and transported over long distances. As an alternative, consider pavers—a popular material that offer design flexibility—and cost effectiveness—that clients love.
If the client is set on a stone look, poured and stamped concrete is another alternative option to reduce costs but still provide an impressive final project. Poured concrete is less expensive than stone or concrete pavers and provides a shorter installation time.
Design-savvy clients might believe that poured concrete will be too simple and not provide their project any design elements—that’s far from the case. Concrete can be stamped, stenciled, colored, or stained after curing in order to provide design elements and texture that can create the look and feel of pavers, brick, or a completely unique aesthetic.
Not all clients will know exactly what they want, presenting a major opportunity for contractors to use their expertise to upsell.
For example, clients might think a simple updates are all they need, but a savvy contractors can help their clients see the benefit of adding additional aspects to the project like resurfacing a walkway to fill in cracks and spalling and increase exterior appearance, adding stone veneer to a building, repairing mortar in their brick façade, adding in a waste receptacle pad or enclosure, or other small finishing touches.
Clients are also unsure of maintenance needed for certain projects. Though concrete is a highly durable material, it will still require maintenance. Contractors can offer to fill cracks in sidewalks or driveways or even do a full resurface of any concrete slab clients have—a quick and extremely easy way to give a space a completely new look and setting up the potential for future projects.
about the author
Cory Olson is the senior vice president at Sakrete of North America at Oldcastle. SAKRETE® was founded in 1936 as North America’s original dry cement mix brand and is a leader in concrete and concrete-related products, and other top-quality building products. For more, visit www.sakrete.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions, September 2019
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