The end of the year is fast approaching. The economy is performing at its peak, and it’s beginning to seem more likely that government spending on bridges, roads, and other infrastructure could increase starting in 2019. This may have you thinking about what you can do to grow your bridge-related business in the year ahead.
Of course, you’re an expert in bridge maintenance, repair, and development work — not sales and marketing. To help, we’ve compiled a list of the top things you can do grow your business, starting in 2019.
1. Get a perspective.
Most people who work on bridges are busy and rarely spend time thinking about their businesses — what’s working and what’s not. Before embarking on a growth plan, take time to reflect. Don’t limit yourself to reviewing spreadsheets and data. Consider your processes and the softer, relationship-related parts of your operation. Ask yourself:
- What’s running smoothly and what’s causing bottlenecks and breakdowns?
- Where do disconnects and conflicts happen?
- What types of projects do you enjoy doing, and which ones make you want to avoid going to work in the morning?
Considering these things will help you see where you may want to take your company in the future. The year-end holiday period is the perfect time for proactive reflection. A little thinking time now could be one of the best investments you make in the future of your business.
2. Don’t go it alone.
Invite the people you work with to brainstorming sessions. Create a safe space for them to offer their perspectives on how your business is doing. Encourage them to share their visions for the future.
You’ll be surprised by the insights you’ll gain, because people see the same things in different ways. In addition, your coworkers will appreciate having a hand in shaping the future of the company they work for.
3. Update your business plan.
Think about your business plan as a dynamic mobile GPS system, not an old-fashioned printed map. To achieve your short- and long-term business goals, it must be updated regularly to address current barriers and to take advantage of opportunities. Best practice is to review and update your plan once a year, or more often if big opportunities come up or you encounter significant barriers.
4. Gather fresh insights.
Subscribing to industry publications, attending conferences, and taking classes might seem expensive and unnecessary. However, doing these things is a critical way to stay up to date on the latest trends in the bridge maintenance and construction industries. It will help you identify new opportunities and technologies that could provide forward-focused ways to grow your firm.
Added bonus: Conferences and classes provide chances to network with potential new business partners and clients.
5. Research your competition.
Find out about the competitors in your local area and beyond. (In today’s age of digital marketing and its ability to expand reach, it’s more likely than ever that bridge contractors from another part of the country could invade your territory. The good news: You might be able to gain traction in their area.)
Learn what types of services they offer to see if your firm is keeping up. Also, see where there are gaps in what they do that you could fill, either as a competitor or a partner. Take note of marketing messages and tactics they use that could resonate with your prospect base.
6. Develop a sales funnel.
An important step in implementing new marketing and growth strategies is to build a sales funnel. Not surprisingly, most businesses in the complex bridge development and maintenance industries employ many different marketing and sales tactics but have no idea how they connect and interact with each other.
Document all the steps in your marketing and sales process. Position them end-to-end so you can see how they play out, like chapters in a story. It will give you a perspective on how prospects and clients experience your company.
Over time, having a defined sales funnel will help you:
- Identify messaging disconnects
- Automate marketing and sales functions, reducing the time it takes to do them, building efficiency over time
- Gather data that can help you identify winning strategies and plug holes in your marketing and sales funnel.
7. Invest in a client management system.
Handling your marketing and sales interactions one-off is a waste of time and will likely make it impossible for you to grow your client base.
Invest in a system that automates and tracks these functions. The expense will more than be made up in the time you save and amount of new business you attract. One popular option is Salesforce. There are plenty of CMS systems, most of which integrate with other cloud-based services. Find one that works for you and use it consistently.
8. Identify your best clients.
Come up with a list of your top clients — those who are most profitable and the ones who are easy to work with. Ask yourself:
- Is there more you could be doing together?
- Are there ways to grow the business you do with them?
- Have you taken time to ask?
In many cases, your current clients could be your best future growth prospects.
9. Target new opportunities
Develop a list of people at companies and municipalities you’d like to do more business with, both prospects and current clients. Figure out how you can reach them: email, social media, digital advertising, calls, or in-person interactions.
Be creative coming up with the best ways to connect because different people interact with different messages and media. Younger people may be more likely to respond to content distributed through certain social channels. You might be more likely to find older prospects via email or at conferences and events.
Once you’ve figured out how to connect with these people, work with a writer, designer, or agency to develop marketing assets. Don’t do it yourself unless you’re a writing and design pro. People won’t do business with a bridge company that isn’t polished and professional. The stakes are simply too high.
Program your marketing and sales strategies and tactics into your client management system to automate them. It will help you track their effectiveness so you can make adjustments based on what you learn.
10. Remarket to current clients.
When it comes to managing client relationships, nothing is more true than out of sight, out of mind. If you don’t check in with current clients, you could be missing out on opportunities to improve your relationship. They might also consider shifting their contracts to competitors they ARE hearing from.
While it might be impossible to regularly call or meet with every client in person, you can do so virtually. Consider expanding your presence in social media or implementing a regular email newsletter.
11. Develop partnerships.
Not ready to grow your company on your own? Look into building strategic partnerships with businesses that allow you to mutually expand the services offered and the client base served. This is often the fastest and most cost-efficient way to increase sales and revenue.
Do research online and at conferences and events, looking for firms that complement your own. Contact them to discuss opportunities for working together. You’ll be surprised by how many will take your call.
12. Acquire — or merge with — another business.
If you’re holding a significant amount of cash or have a decent credit line, a buyout or merger is a sound way to expand. If you find a competitor that’s interested, you acquire their clients now and eliminate them as a competitor in the future. You can also buy or merge with a business that complements your service offerings, which will help you scale fast.
We hope these 12 tips will help you grow your bridge-related business in 2019 and beyond. It’s looking like the perfect time to take advantage of economic and governmental trends to finally achieve the full potential of your business.