Construction workers (and building owners!) use social networks too
You may enjoy that the construction business lets you spend your day outside in jeans rather than stuck in a suit behind a desk, but the majority of your potential customers, whether new homeowners or those expanding their industrial properties, fall into the latter group. And they use LinkedIn as a way to find new service providers, so you need to make sure your LinkedIn Profile and LinkedIn Business Profile are up to the challenge!
LinkedIn Keywords: Like a more transparent Google, keywords really matter on LinkedIn--the more you have them, the more you show up at the top of relevant searches. Make sure you and your team’s construction specialization are weaved throughout your Headline, Summary Job, Description, and official Business Profile.
Recommendations: Have happy customers in your target industries? Ask them to write you a recommendation. Think they are too lazy for it? With a wink and a nudge, give them a bulleted list of “ideas” of what they could say about you. Guide them to be specific, to use specific words and phrases (keywords!) you want to be found for, and, since you only see the first 75 or so characters in the Recommendation Preview, make sure they put the really good stuff in the first sentence.
Generate Leads via LinkedIn: Remember six degrees to Kevin Bacon? Well, it’s two degrees to your next job on LinkedIn. You need to position yourself and your business partners as having access to the right clients. Join relevant groups--not those where you will find your competition but rather where you will find your desired clients. On the other hand, look at the targets your competition is connected with and feel free to connect too. And remember, for you and your sales team, a cold call isn’t a cold call anymore if you connect on LinkedIn first.
Keep Current: Follow/Connect with people like John Burns, a heavy influencer in the real estate industry. Keep on top of mind by sharing industry insights both within these Groups and as your LinkedIn Status update.
Manage your staff from anywhere.
If you own your own construction company, your time should be spent bringing in new projects and customers, not doing an absurd amount of back-office work. Thank goodness there are inexpensive ways to automate your workflow, from lead generation and contracts to scheduling and payroll.
Do you spend a lot of time (and gas) driving from site to site just checking that all your workers are where they are when they say they are? There’s an app that can do it all for you! Use a geolocated time clock software like When I Work that lets your workers check in right from their smartphones. Have a no-show or a last-minute cancellation? Know right away who is available to fill in and contact them, all automated from your phone or tablet. Scheduling software like these also allow you to do just that, schedule your employees, manage time-off, sick leave, and unpaid lunch breaks, and then remind them when there’s a shift change. When I Work is integrated with your favorite payroll apps, so you can automate the whole flow, from behind your desk, in your truck (just not while driving!), or on your phone or tablet or iPad.
Worried your staff might not all have smartphones? Apps like When I Work can send SMS text messages to old-school feature phones too. Worried your workers will just forget to clock in? You can set automatic reminders.
Negotiate and close deals on the go.
Don’t wait for your clients to change their minds. Get them reviewing and signing contracts online! The bigger the projects, the more the negotiations go back and forth. There’s a lot of waiting as you negotiate over email, try to keep track of the ever-changing contract versions, and try to interpret which sections your prospect is hemming and hawing over. Why not use a contracting and electronic signature software that allows you to leave comments and negotiate right on sections of the document? Apps like PandaDoc electronic signature software let you not only negotiate on the contract, but they allow you to see which client was looking at which section for how long. This means you can cut through the crap and get to the point. (HINT: more than half the time, while they might not want to say it, money is THE issue.)
Added bonus with these types of construction-friendly apps is that they narrow the time to close the deal. You don’t have to worry about your clients changing their minds while they go through the hustle and bustle of downloading, printing, signing from parties in different locations, scanning (or, gosh, faxing), and mailing back the contracts? Get it all done in one place, at one time—online or on your iPad. Electronic signature has the same standing legally and is even easier and safer than paper contracts.
Make sure your tech tools withstand your harsh environment
It’s all good that you have all these online tools that can save you loads of time and money, but you still need the hardware to make it happen. There’s no doubt that your iPad is an invaluable tool on site, whether it’s for reviewing and signing contracts, scheduling your staff or simply FaceTime or Skype meeting with clients. But the moment you leave it in the wrong place and it falls in mud or gets at on, you’re screwed. Just like you make sure your guys wear hardhats, make sure your iPad, Tablets and Phones, are protected with great tools like Griffin Tough Cases or Otterbox Cases. They may not fit in your coat or pocket so well, but your investment will certainly be well-protected.
What tools do you use to make your construction business a breeze? What are your tricks to save time and money?