Lessons Learned #9: Your Marketing Objective: Find The Good People

Do you ever wonder why it seems that some customers simply cannot be satisfied?  No matter how hard your company works on a job, they can always find something unacceptable, some deficiency to be corrected, or produce a punch list that never ends?  Despite all your efforts, when all the work is complete, those customers don’t pay the bill in full, finding creative ways to discount your work, submitting back charges out of left field.  Or maybe they just drag out your final payment until, out of desperation, you agree to accept less than what was due.

Working for these type of customers will consume more of your company’s resources and can often end up costing you money rather than contributing to your bottom line.  In addition, these customers are extremely difficult to deal with and will irritate your staff.

Yet despite these difficulties, you may find that your company continues to enter into contracts with these customers, only to repeat the same painful experiences.

That’s just the way it is in our market you might say.  But let me share a secret with you; it doesn’t have to be that way.

Many years ago, when I was an estimator for a subcontractor, I was seeing that pattern develop with some of our customers.  At that time, my company had a marketing philosophy that was indiscriminate; we took all of the work that came our way.  The problem I observed was that we were working with some customers that were producing bad business results for us.

One day while visiting one of my counterparts in a GC’s office, an “old timer” who I had grown to respect, I asked him “what’s your secret to staying successful in the contracting business for so long?” Without thinking about it, he shared this:

“You will rarely have bad business with good people, and you will rarely have good business with bad people. The secret is finding the good people.”

That message is as true today as it was 30 years ago!  The secret to your success is to find the “good people” and do as much work as you can with them.  Likewise, you need to avoid working with the “bad people”, as soon as you identify who they are.

I know this may sound like an over-simplification of things, but as far as rules of thumb go, it’s a great marketing objective. Think of the positive changes that could take place in your business if you were to put that advice to use.

  1. You could stop losing money on some of your work.
  2. Your staff would have more time to focus on satisfying the “good people” whose work contributes to your profits.
  3. You could do less volume of work for the same (or greater) profit.

Try this recipe for a winning marketing strategy: “find the good people”!

When was the last time you had someone take an objective look at the management practices in your construction business?  Are there issues you would like to discuss with someone outside your company before taking action?  Schedule a confidential consultation.  Think of it as renting a “board of directors” for a day.

“You’ll rarely have any bad business with good people…” – Pat Fernandez

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