Building better partnerships in construction
by Erin Cullen
August 16, 2017

The dollar is strong, interest rates are low and the Dow Jones Industrial Average has reached heights that were previously unimaginable. These signs prove money is flowing throughout the American economy, and the construction industry is enjoying it. A survey released by the Associated General Contractors of America shows 73 percent of construction firms are planning to expand their payroll this year, which speaks to the rising demand for construction services.

As infrastructure companies dedicate themselves to the increasing number of jobs, they run the risk of stretching themselves too thin. Workers want the work, companies want the business and shareholders want the profit, but this can also lead to unsafe work environments.

The Real Estate Board of New York recently released construction statistics that show that as the number of construction projects rise, worker injuries and fatalities also increase. When companies and contractors need to maximize productivity while minimizing cost, it can lead to a reprioritization of safety measures.

One way to make sure worker well-being doesn’t fall to the wayside is to form partnerships with organizations who can help impose and maintain standards. The following are four tips on how to spark innovation through creative partnerships.

1. Invite Collaboration

When deciding to create new safety and business solutions with another company, you should team up with an organization that you can work with toward mutually beneficial goals. Take inventory of your company’s core competencies, as well as the areas in which you need help. Use the information to identify organizations that align with your goals and can complement your business offerings. Partnerships built on a shared vision have the potential to create long-term success.

As an example, an insurance provider can partner with a board of certified solar practitioners. The carrier can get a boots-on-the-ground perspective of the solar market, which allows for the crafting of unique and targeted coverage options for the industry. By providing a real-time view of the industry, the association can help shape insurance solutions that better cover its members.

2. Share a Vision

Be acutely aware of how your businesses mesh. A clunky customer experience can backfire, which will turn potential clients away from your organization. Before approaching an association, company or vendor about working together, understand what the company is about, from its values to the overall customer experience.

Look at a company’s mission statement to get insight into the company’s values, goals and competencies. Hidden behind claims of market leadership and “making the world a better place” are a set of values on which the company is built. These pillars should align with your company’s ethos and be supportive of the goals of your partnership.

Speak with another person or company who utilizes their services. This is just like doing a reference check on a potential hire. You want to hear what it is like working with this company and how it treats the people on the other end of a transaction. This is a perfect time to see if the values in the mission statement truly translate to the company’s end user.

Check the certifications and awards the company has been given. In every field, there are certifications that are respected and recognized across the industry. But there are also accreditations with official-sounding names given to anyone who is willing to pay a nominal fee. If a company pads its mantle with certifications and awards from these kind of organizations, it might not be beneficial to hitch your business to its wagon.

Certifications and awards from large, well-known organizations carry much more weight. Look for names like the Office of Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) and the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), for example.

3. Think Bigger

When done right, the impact of the coalitions will go beyond than the well-being of two organizations. Collaboration can create new business solutions, raise the bar on safety and set new standards that customers can expect from everyone—even your competition. That is why it’s important to partner with people who truly understand your industry.

4. Track, Adjust & Repeat

Remember, partnerships need to be about more than co-branding and mutual promotion. Establish a set of concrete metrics to use in evaluation of the partnership and even the partner. Each arrangement is different, but metrics should center on the overall safety and business goals of the partnership. Examples of safety-related metrics can be a reduction in the number of jobsite injuries or an increase in the number of employees who have a certification.

To monitor the business aspects of the deal, track the size of the customer base to make sure you are getting leads from your partner. Also, track the percentage of leads that turn into new business. If your partner isn’t sending qualified leads, you might need to readjust the strategy.

With the construction industry booming, the competition for projects can be stiff. If you can form a partnership with another organization to raise the bar on safety, your collaboration can be the differentiator that lands a new contract.

An alliance can expand the pool of potential customers and give business a spark. The right partner can validate your company’s credibility and make you relevant in a new industry. The possibilities for innovation are endless, and the results can be quite powerful.