As an owner, you have a difficult time identifying the main general contractors (GC) on a busy playing field where many of the players look the same on the surface. You most likely have several criteria to consider before hiring a CG, but have you considered that your marketing approach might provide insight into the reputation of the company?
Many construction companies don’t put much emphasis on marketing, so those that do tend to stand out. It would be unfair to suggest that a CG is not reputable if it is not marketing; however, those who do tend to be more conscientious, focused on reputation, community service, and helping the clients they serve.
Some GCs see the brand as a sham. Considering that customer experience is an important part of branding, that’s a big mistake.
Construction companies that understand and invest in brand building are operating on a higher plane. They recognize it as an investment and tend to operate their businesses with a long-term perspective. They care about all aspects of their business, including how outsiders perceive them. If these are among the traits you are looking for in a builder, look beyond the GC logo.
What is the media saying about this contractor? What kinds of headlines appear when you do a Google search?
Show me a contractor who cares about how the outside world sees you and I will show you a contractor who cares about other aspects of their business as well. Contractors have been known to be quoted or misinterpreted by the general media, so reserve your judgment until you are sure you are dealing with hard facts and have enough information to see a trend.
Successful companies believe in pay, and general contractors are no different. Does the CG you are investigating support charities? Do they sponsor and attend events? Do they support the local community? Do you have employees who volunteer for industry groups? Many contractors play close to the vest when it comes to charity, so you may have to do some homework.
JH Greene, for example, demonstrated his commitment to social responsibility in 2017 by establishing a custom hashtag (#JHGreeneCares), which was used by employees involved in supporting positive causes, including an online fundraising campaign for the Bank of Houston food in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. . Any GC can attend a charity event, but only the most dedicated will build a campaign around it.
This may come as a surprise, but many GCs are not huge fans of social media. Some are there reluctantly and others accept it because it represents an opportunity to promote themselves and engage with clients, prospects and clients.
How do you distinguish between the two? Look for contractors who have a complete profile, an active presence, and engage with followers rather than simply broadcasting. Those who practice the latter are often reluctantly on social media because they have been told they should have a presence.
Content marketing, an approach that involves sharing useful information to attract new business, is a tactic that has been slow to catch on in the construction industry. Typical tactics can include blogging, a newsletter, guest articles, e-books, to name a few.
There are two reasons why a CG that practices content marketing should be important to you as the owner. On the one hand, it can help you determine if they have mastered their craft, be it carpentry or paving. Second, it shows that they value generosity and are willing to share their experience with the market.
Mouth to mouth
Most CGs rely on word of mouth to generate referrals because they depend on the quality of the work done. Some get so many referral businesses that they consider marketing unnecessary, which is one of the main reasons I would never suggest that a contractor is not in good standing if they don’t invest in it.
As the owner, you want to find out what customers and subcontractors have to say about the CG. Are they meeting deadlines? Are they using competent subcontractors? This will require a bit of groundwork in the form of phone calls, emails, and social media.
The bottom line is that marketing is just one of the criteria that owners should consider when examining a CG. While it is true that aggressive marketing can be used to disguise deficiencies, it more often represents awareness and a holistic approach to business.
ABOUT THE GUEST AUTHOR:
Brian M. Fraley is the owner and Chief Strategist of Fraley Construction Marketing, a marketing communications consultancy with a unique 100% approach and in-depth knowledge of the construction industry. He has worked in this niche for almost 25 years. Brian is an active participant on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter and is a regular contributor to the InSITE Construction Marketing Newsletter, the Straight Talker Construction Marketing Blog, and various trade publications.