Archive for the ‘Case Histories’ Category

Boosting Profitability for General Contractors

January 19, 2012

As profit margins drop past the 2% mark, general contractors are compelled to look for more innovative ways to drive profitability. Recently, I learned of a GC that hired a third party services firm to photo-document its work on a large school project and passed the cost onto the owner with a slight markup. While I see the rationale behind adding value-added services as a way to improve revenue, I find this particular choice questionable.

Construction Photo-documentation firms offer a valuable combination of construction knowledge and photography services to owner/developers who lack the experience and resources to scrutinize the construction of their buildings. Most also offer a deliverable that includes construction photos delivered via the web.

However, does this make sense for a GC? Can these firms offer expertise that the GC doesn’t already have on staff? Do they hold the secrets to construction photography that a GC can’t match with a $500 camera purchase and a basic photography course at a local community college (or even online)? The answers are obviously no and no.

So, therefore, the missing piece of the puzzle must be the ability to deliver construction photos with a web interface offers more than a link to a Sharepoint folder. If a GC could deliver a comprehensive package of photos to an owner that offered a complete record of as-built construction and critical installation details, now that would be valuable.

And now, the GC can offer just such a deliverable. In my next post I will describe how Geedra enables GC’s to self perform the photo documentation of their projects, and in doing so transforms an overhead cost, into a value-add service that boosts profitability.

Social Media for Recognition and Retention – Part 1

March 27, 2009

One of the attendees at my social media presentation to the local Associated Builders and Contractors board mentioned that he felt that there were many wasted opportunities to share stories about the great work his crew did.  He went on to say that his superintendents problem solving abilities were a real competitive advantage, but he found it difficult to convey that to current and potential customers.

I thought social media would be a great mechanism for sharing such stories.  The company benefits in a couple of ways. First, as the gentleman above suspected, these stories make great marketing copy. They create an opportunity for current customers to emotionally invest in the work of their contractor and paint an enticing picture for prospective clients.

However, I think efforts to recognize your crews’ success on the web will pay bigger dividends for the morale of the crews themselves. Think about it. If you see yourself mentioned in the company’s print newsletter, you might take it home to share with your spouse. However, if your mentioned in a blog post, with a link to the recognition page on the company website, then you’re likely to share that with all of your friends and family by email. Chances are that more than a few of those folks are in construction too, which means that your recognition effort can have recruiting benefits too.

See part 2 of this post for a 7-step approach for promoting the work of your crews.

Billy’s Journey

February 16, 2009

A recent conversation with a quality manager from a major general contractor brought this cartoon immediately to mind.  You see, this poor chap was under the delusion that he could simply walk from his desk to a condo unit to check the fit of the refrigerator and then walk back.  The time required to complete his journey: 2 hours!

family-circus-billy-pathAt every turn, the quality manager was beckoned by a information-starved  sub contractor with a question.  Each question began innocently enough.  “Got a minute?” they would ask.  But after a dozen or so of these, his 10 minute walk turned into a 2 hour journey.

My take on Billy’s journey:

  1. Ground-level direction leaves a lot to be desired.
  2. Tradespeople want to do a good job for their clients, but don’t always have sufficient information to do so.
  3. If chance encounters with roaming managers are how trade questions get answered, then I bet a fair number of trade questions go un-answered.

Project quality suffers in all cases.