SAN FRANCISCO — A headline on the front page of CONTRACTOR in May 1988 stated, "
Marketing helps sell products, services more profitably." Apparently, the editors of this magazine at that time felt it necessary to explain this basic truth of marketing to readers.
Sixteen years later, members of the Quality Service Contractors found out during their Power Meeting July 21-24 here that they really have to master three kinds of marketing. The "external" marketing described in 1988, such as brochures and ads, is just one kind, and contractors usually spend too much time on it.
"There are three kinds of marketing, and you often ignore two of them because you're busy people," Gary Elekes of Elekes Performance Contracting told QSC members. His workshop was a continuation of a session that took place during QSC's last Power Meeting March 4-6 in Scottsdale, Ariz., where a marketing program was introduced. The program, "Marketing for the Quality Service Contractor — Planning That Works" has more than 200 pages of marketing and advertising information along with three spreadsheets for contractors to develop and track their marketing efforts.
Elekes estimated that contractors typically spend 80% of their marketing effort on external issues, which also includes trucks, customer contacts and the overall image the company presents to customers. They really should be spending no more than 50% of their time there.
Just as important are internal and operational marketing. Contractors should spend the remaining 50% of their marketing efforts on these other two kinds.
"You have to do the internal and operational marketing before you do the external," Elekes said. "You have to figure out how all three work together."
The three support a company's business goals. If a contractor's overall business goal is to develop the service part of the business and to sell more accessories through service, he said, examples of marketing goals would be to implement flat-rate pricing or to increase referrals from existing service customers.
Internal marketing focuses on employees. A necessary first step is to involve employees in discussions. A good question to ask is "What can we all agree on about achieving our marketing goals?" Elekes said.
Involve employees in discussions
Internal marketing requires leadership because owners have the responsibility to let employees know what is expected of them, Elekes said. A leadership model for successful internal marketing would require the contractor to define the company's culture and core values clearly; to write a concise set of job expectations and performance measurements; to train employees on the competencies needed to complete a job; to provide tools and resources to perform the job; to give regular feedback and measurements on a daily, weekly or quarterly basis; and to align rewards with performance in the form of pay plans or contests. Operational marketing involves the actual processes that contractors put together to help their employees execute successfully when they're in front of the customer. The question to ask here, Elekes said, is "What do I have to do operationally to achieve my marketing goals?"
Processes could address a flatrate pricing system and tech debriefings after each service call as well as collateral materials such as business forms.
"An invoice should not look like a technical invoice," Elekes said. "It should appeal to the homeowner to make her want to buy a maintenance agreement."
A contractor's marketing efforts don't exist in a vacuum. So, the contractor also must weigh the financial and operational impact of his marketing goals and evaluate his employees' capabilities.
"Don't go from idea to execution without figuring out how to do it," Elekes said. "You have to have a process to get implementation in place for any idea or marketing goal."
He defined a strategy as why a company does something and a tactic as how the company does it. When contractors prioritize their business and marketing goals, they must have a strategy first. "Most independent, familyowned businesses are strong tactically," he said. "You have to aim a little higher."
Mastering the three forms of marketing will allow contractors to control the perception of their company's brand in the marketplace.
"We have to figure out how to make the customer trust our brand," Elekes said. " Marketing is how your customer trusts your brand."
Haberberger wins 3 plum contracts
ST. LOUIS — Haberberger Mechanical has been awarded three projects for Anheuser Busch, Mallinckrodt and American Airlines.
The mechanical contractor will return to Anheuser Busch for two projects. Haberberger will serve as the primary contractor on a project that involves separating the brew lines through a series of shutdowns over the next 16 months. Subcontractors who will work with Haberberger include J&S Insulation, Lackey Sheet Metal, Maxim Construction, Aetna Coatings and Plant Maintenance Services.
The second project will include the installation of new piping and equipment setting for the brewer's bottling lines Nos. 36 and 37.
Work for bottle line No. 36, which is being managed by general contractor SM Wilson, will be especially difficult, the contractor said, because it will occur during a three-week shutdown timeframe and require multiple shifts. Jeff Roberts has been named as the project manager for both projects to be completed at Anheuser Busch. Charlie Bott and Dave Brightman are project foremen.
Haberberger is a subcontractor to McCarthy Construction for bottle line No. 37.
At Mallinckrodt, Haberberger will perform work on Building Nos. 200 and 235 for the manufacturer of medical products. Both jobs will entail installing process drains. Rhodey & Sons Construction is the general contractor. Roberts is also project manager for this job and Tom Masterson will serve as his foreman.
As a subcontractor to Ben Hur Construction, Haberberger will complete an upgrade to the HVAC system for the American Airlines hub at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. The project will take place in three phases and include the installation of 125 fan coil units within Concourse C where the airline operates. Mike Conway is the project manager and Dodd Slawson is the foreman.