Safety and effective construction marketing: The surprising correlation

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Safety counts for construction marketing.  (Image from wikipedia commons)
Safety counts for construction marketing. (Image from Wikimedia commons)

You may know that contractors and subtrades should have solid safety policies and systems — aiming for zero lost-time injuries — but you probably (like me) never associated great safety practices with effective marketing and business development processes.

Well, there truly is a correlation, consultant Mike Jeffries reports, and it isn’t based on platitudes and marketing puff saying “we have great safety policies” — but on the habits, skills and systems/business management that occur when you get down to business in ensuring your job sites are safe.

Jeffries writes, that on vacation:

I also read a fascinating book that opened my mind to the power of habits and how they impact every aspect of your business. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. That will be the subject of today’s tip. I strongly encourage you to read this – it will change your focus and your profits.

One of the great stories in the book is how Alcoa became one of the most profitable companies by focusing on one key habit – safety.

When Paul O’Neil took over as CEO of Alcoa in 1987 they were in a tailspin. In his first appearance before investors Mr. O’Neil announced that he was going to go for zero injuries. That was it. He didn’t mention downsizing, rightsizing or use any other platitudes to describe his plan to turn the company around. Safety was certainly an admirable goal considering that the employees worked with molten aluminum every day. Most investors in the room thought he was nuts and quickly sold their stock.

He proved to be very smart. Within a year income was at a record high. By the time he retired in 2000 income was five times higher than it was when he took over.

How did he do it? He changed one keystone habit and the change created a positive ripple effect through every aspect of the company.

Think about it – safety is one thing no one was going to argue with him about – unions and management were both behind it.

And to prevent injuries you had to understand how the manufacturing process worked so you could find out where things went wrong so you could correct them.

Correct work is also safer work. This led to better quality, more efficient processes, a dramatic reduction in accidents and so much more.

In other words, taking on something like safety and making it a priority helps to improve and develop discipline about internal systems, habits and processes, ultimately improving quality, the client experience, and, yes, marketing.

I’m not sure how much bragging about your great safety record will help your sales, though it may have significant impact in winning public sector work, especially from organizations concerned about indirect liability.  However, undoubtedly, if you have any issues with safety (and in a small business, a safety failure could be catastrophic) taking some time to develop and implement really solid safety policies and habits may have the most unexpected consequences — a much-enhanced marketing success story.

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