Searching For Projects vs. Searching For Clients.

Words: Corey Adams 

Hours and hours. That is almost always the answer when we ask how much time we spend searching for leads. We all fall into the trap of visiting bid listing services, general contractor’s websites, and local publications. It is a symptom of today’s instant gratification culture, and not necessarily a good one.   

Marketing a construction company in today’s digital world is all about lead attraction. Most agencies will devote, and charge you for, all of their efforts directed at search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), and social media content. This method is wildly successful in attracting new leads, but it doesn’t always translate into clients. Taking the lead and turning it into a client takes work.   

With so much focus on lead generation, efforts to create clients are starting to disappear. The majority of companies mistake projects for clients. In fact, they have more similarities to opposing poles on a magnet. Constantly driving each other away with complete disregard for the amount of force you apply. Projects last just that, the length of a project. Clients are repeat customers that call you first, last, and always.   

The old saying holds true, it is easier to keep a client than finding a new one. Even with the vast array of lead generation advertising tools we have at our disposal, clients do not come overnight. Your marketing plan needs to have provisions that allow for client development.   

I am a huge fan of loyalty and referral programs. They are an integral part of turning a happy customer into a loyal client. A loyal client will refer you to their friends, other project managers, and sometimes to their competition.   

Years ago, we had a local concrete ready-mix supply company that had all of our business. Every year they would travel out to our office, always around Christmas, and deliver some form of promotional material. They were never outrageous, just hats, coats, sweatshirts, and even a meat tray one year. We never asked for it, but always received. One year they did not show up. We never even thought about it. The second year came and went with no visit or thank you. What happened, year 3 was astounding. We, as a company, without really thinking about it, slowly started to use the competition more and more. Was it due to the lack of swag? I want to think not, but the psychology of it tells me different. Rewarding customers will plant the seed of loyalty, and boy will it grow fast.  

We also implemented a system during cold calls. We would never start a conversation asking if they had any projects to bid. It was always stated that we were looking for clients. “We do not deliver our bids to every general contractor; we are looking for clients.” It is still ingrained in my thoughts. We could accomplish this because we knew our numbers. Within 5 minutes of looking at a job, we knew if we could compete. This led to multiple repeat customers, and plenty of no-bid contracts, the golden goose of construction.  

It is difficult in a digital world to connect on such a personal level and produce clients. That is why it takes work. Bidding every project you can find, and bidding to all general contractors is a stressful price war that no one enjoys. Bidding to a client that you have worked with, and can have open conversations with is refreshing, and profitable. Next time your marketing team puts a plan and budget together, have them set aside a little for the good customers, new or repeat. Keep yourself in their minds and remind them constantly how great it was to work with them, and you can’t wait until the next time! Search for some clients, and eliminate the need to waste time searching for projects.   

Corey Adams is the President of the Concrete Division at Genesis Contracting, and Founder of The Faster Horses Agency, a business development and marketing firm that serves the construction industry. His unique blend of construction experience, and business development strategies make Corey a go to source for many contractors looking to take the next step. To contact corey directly, Call 740-350-3072, or email him at  cadams@genesis-contracting.com