Of the lessons reinforced through the pandemic, one of the most important for contractors in commercial construction has been the value of long-term relationships. Many in the industry have faced challenges these past couple years, from supply chain issues to budget constraints that can bring certain projects to a halt. Having a diverse portfolio of steady jobs with trusted partners can help businesses weather the storm and gain momentum looking ahead.
While the lowest bid often factors heavily into larger government projects, commercial clients typically have more leeway to pick and choose the companies they hire. This could raise the bar on quality and efficiency, which provides a solid foundation for contractors to prove themselves and build their reputation for future opportunities.
Sow the seeds from the start
As contractors seek out new business or begin working on new projects, they may want to ensure they’re putting their best foot forward. From our work on commercial jobs ranging from military bases to airports and corporate projects, these are a few tried and true best practices we always look to follow:
- Be transparent: Honesty is important for any business relationship and it’s important to make the policy apparent from the start. At the quote stage, being up front and not pulling punches will help to establish a good framework for communication. Being professional and getting information to people on time can also go a long way in establishing trust with customers.
- Be adaptable – If a client calls with a request on short turnaround, contractors should be confident in their ability to answer the call. Having a tight deadline or a work schedule that needs adjusting can be a big obstacle for any business. However, demonstrating the ability to adapt effectively can be one of the fastest ways to gain a loyal customer.
- Get it right the first time – At the end of the day, it’s the contractor’s responsibility to make their customer’s job easier. Taking a few extra measures to ensure each phase of work is done the right way will help crews avoid excessive punch lists and help the client at project closeout. From the time and resources required to backtrack and do corrective work, keeping clear of these pitfalls will also help save a lot of money.
- Build on each experience – Contractors should treat their experience in new industries like a steppingstone for expansion. At S.T. Wooten, we’ve been able to grow our business in segments like the military because our partners know we understand the unique processes and security expectations. The less time clients have to deal with their contractors learning curve, the better.
- Make safety a top priority – The commitment and professionalism contractors show from a safety perspective has a major impact on their reputation. Contractors should understand that many clients have particular training and/or safety protocols that must be followed on their projects. Many companies we work with will evaluate our track record thoroughly, across every division, before they hire us. A great safety record is a requirement to keep getting new jobs.
Even as a subcontractor, companies should know the expectations for performance on projects – understanding how it impacts customer relationships and the prospect of gaining future work. If a prime contractor likes their subcontractor’s work, they’ll want to partner again. And if the owner likes the work, they’ll choose that prime contractor and its team again too.
Make it consistent
Following solid industry best practices will help businesses build their reputation while also maintaining their relationship with partners as time progresses. It will help carry contractors forward in their collaborations with end-customers, as well as fellow contractors and engineers that they might work with on projects. As each project is complete with a polished finished, contractors can build on their positive experiences to secure future opportunities.