Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How To Survive During Hard Times

The bad news is that a prospering economy isn’t back with us just yet. The good news is that you control your own future. Now is the time to get aggressive about growth in the “new normal.”

You must be doing everything possible to solidify client relationships so that you will be the first firm on a client’s mind when project time rolls around. Need a boost? Here are 10 ideas to get the backlog faucet flowing again in 2012:

1. Visit every one of your best current and repeat clients. Strengthen the relationships and explore every avenue of their business to learn about both short-term and long-term opportunities. Make face-to-face contact with current, potential, and future clients.

2. Re-tune your promotional tools to be more targeted. If your marketing collateral still makes you look like all things to all people, revamp it to emphasize your depth of specialized expertise for carefully targeted markets. More than anything in the current economy, clients seek firms that know their business inside and out. Make your marketing materials more client-centric.

3. Redouble efforts to find leads that fit with your focused marketing plan. Get active in finding where the opportunities are. Here are some examples:
Visit your local zoning agency to learn who is requesting zoning variances or rezoning land for commercial or industrial development.

- Circulate among local business and trade associations, service organizations, and your local chamber of commerce to uncover leads and make yourself known.

- Attend local town board meetings to find out more about the problems and concerns of local communities.

- Create a lead exchange group. Recruit members of non-competing firms and meet once a month to exchange leads.

4. Pay attention to office morale. Many employees have been beat up by pay cuts and layoffs around them. Initiate whatever activities might help to maintain or boost morale in the office.

5. Reshape your organizational concept. Do an internal analysis and gauge your strengths and weaknesses. Figure out what you need to change and then set it in motion.

6. Trim fat off every category rather than wipe out areas entirely. In slow times, your marketing budget could come under scrutiny. But keep a steady hand. You need to keep business coming in. Be more selective with marketing endeavors and attend seminars/networking events close to home.

7. Take the time to update staff resumes. Put the most impressive facts first and then leave out the fluff. The client is not more interested in who the project manager is and what similar projects they’ve completed recently instead of what college they attended over a decade ago.

8. Target your opportunities wisely. Make sure that you know what is happening in your target markets. Identify your firm’s niche specialties and make sure that you learn everything that you can about your client’s business in these areas to stay ahead of your competition.

In addition to these ideas, don’t forget the basics for business success. Be responsive, stay fresh, and earn your clients’ trust and respect!

As a firm leader, you should know the ins and outs of building business in the “new” economy. Learn more about how to get ahead of your competition and really integrate your firm into your client’s long term plan. Join PSMJ this spring for our Business Development for A/E/C Firms seminar, coming to 6 locations across North America. Get the tools and confidence you need to succeed in bringing in more work for the firm – register today!

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