There is one skill and capacity you absolutely need to grow your business and yet, in the architectural, engineering and construction industry, it is surprisingly uncommon — and you’ll probably turn your nose up at it when you hear the answer.
It is this: You need your own in-house sales and business development capacity. And you will likely find this problem the hardest to solve, unless you do it yourself.
Yes, you may be competitive in price, deliver quality service, have excellent relationships with your current clients and wonderful tradespeople working for you. And you may well “rely” on word-of-mouth and a good ability to price work properly when you are called on to estimate jobs.
And the last thing you need, you might believe, would be to hire some pushy idiot at high cost dragging in mediocre jobs and expecting top-dollar compensation.
I agree fully.
But unless you can systematically attract and retain new, profitable business, you won’t grow. This may be okay if you want to oversee a tiny craft or boutique enterprise, especially if you deliver most of the services yourself and you do it so well (and at such low-cost) that word-of-mouth generates more business than you can think of handling.
But if you want to grow you’ll run into problems with this strategy. One reason: Employee efficiency in yield per employee declines as your business grows from three to 10 employees. In other words, each new employee you hire will produce per capita less than the average of your current employees. Which means you will need to have enough margin/profitability in your business to pay the higher labour costs. (As your business gets past 10 employees, the labour cost stabilizes as you gain some economies of scale — but you will be very vulnerable if you cannot generate enough new, diverse business to offset any loss in current client volume.)
The challenge: The hardest employee to hire will be a great salesperson. The reason is simple: These talented individuals are so valuable to other (especially competing) businesses that they will certainly not let go of their best representatives easily. The individuals looking for work with the requisite qualifications often have plenty of unwelcome baggage attached to them. There’s some luck in the draw here; but you’ll probably go through some dregs on the way, at least until you know what you are doing.
So, how do you solve this problem?
Perhaps you can/should develop more of these capacities yourself.
In many cases, in fact, you probably started/built your business in the first place with your own abilities. You had a good reputation within your trade and speciality, and were able to attract/bring along some initial clients. You hustled for the business, and won it (or it came naturally to you, which it sometimes does.)
However, you’ll certainly benefit from incremental knowledge or even exponential insights with these skills.
Where can you discover them. If I were directly selling these services, I would now publish the call-for-action here. However, I’ll do things one better and won’t put a price tag on the service: Send me an email, describe your business and I’ll provide you some resources to consider and maybe some specific recommendations on the solutions. And I’ll share some ideas in follow-up postings.
You can reach me here. It will take you just a few seconds to complete the form, send an email, or even use the phone.