Editor's Note: The following is a story about Scotty, our recurring fictional business development hero. In the continuing story, business development issues are examined in the context of a typical design/build construction company.
Here I am, out of work in a good market. Mr. Clyde Peterson of Peterson Builders has recently fired me for doing my job. That will just make it easier for me to get a new one.
The one thing I loved about business development in construction is it's a fast-paced job that lets business developers do what they do best-build trust and bring different groups together to form business relationships.
Looking for work is easy for a business developer because it's what we are good at in the first place. What I'm looking for is a company who understands business development, but more than that, I want a company that has invested time and money in their corporate image. Even better is a company that has branded their process. It's all about the marketing perception of a company. A good marketing program can set the stage for many business development opportunities. I located one such company, and was able to land an interview with the president-Mr. Hugh R. Wright of Design/Build Management, Inc.
"Mr. Wright, I found you in several of the local construction and real estate magazines. That means a lot to me."
"We do spend a lot of time marketing our company," Hugh said. "But tell me, how did that help you?"
"I have uncovered many opportunities for my services. But unless a company can demonstrate they are truly ready for me, I have no interest."
"Why, may I ask?"
"If I select a company who isn't ready for the business development investment, then I'm wasting my time. In the end, I will spend all of my time justifying my time."
"Like your last position with Mr. Peterson?"
"Exactly!" I said rather excited. Hugh apparently really understood what business development was all about. "Clyde's a great guy, but in order to grow they need to go through a period of training where everyone comes up to speed as to the systems and processes it takes to market a company as well as the investment it takes to develop relationships."
"We kind of went around in circles for a couple of years before we learned that valuable lesson," Hugh said.
I shook my head in agreement. "There's one exception, however. Sometimes an owner suddenly sees the light. Almost overnight they begin to manage their business from a planning methodology, and they're really changing. They recognize the value of branding and are working toward that. That's also a company I would consider."
"So what you're saying is the time and money we spent on our corporate image is also working to attract you to our company." Hugh got up and walked over to his office window that looked out over Medinah Country Club-one of the best and most exclusive clubs around.
"An unexpected benefit-I knew the commitment to marketing and corporate image would help," Hugh said. "I knew I had to make the same investment that other industries make. Why other construction companies don't see that is beyond me."
"It might be an advantage, a strategic advantage for now, until others catch on. But it should be expected. These days, there must be that investment-if not for today, then for tomorrow. Someday, there will be a lot less work around-and that's when it will really pay off."
"Yes Scotty, and that's when you will really pay off. Down the road when everyone is struggling."
"It will still be a struggle. But we should have many advantages by then. We will have relationships that extend far into the community. We can work at building a market niche that will allow us to survive. We will be known and will be considered experts. And at the same time, we should have fun. Otherwise, what's the point?"
"So Scotty, how about joining this company?"
"I would love to Mr. Wright. Your company has the right image, and is known for the service you provide in the design/build world. I think we're a good match."
"Scotty, why don't you call me Hugh? Say, how about a game of golf this Friday? We can get to know each other and discuss your compensation plan out on the course."
"That sounds great. Perfect."
"Good, I'll set up the tee times."
I stood up and we shook hands. Both of were excited about the opportunity. I felt good about this company. "If I may ask, I was called last week by Bob Fisher of Weber Enterprises. I was working with him for Peterson Builders, but since I have left, they have not been able to land Weber as a client. And Bob confided in me that since I have left the company, they are not exactly comfortable with the situation. He was asking for my advice."
"Really," Hugh said.
"How about if I call him up, and see if Bob and his vice president Jerry could join us for the game. It would give us a shot at building a major distribution center. They also have some office expansion work in their existing facility that I could probably negotiate for on a Construction Management fee basis, and get started immediately."
"Sounds good to me," Hugh said somewhat excited. "And Scotty, as far as compensation is concerned, just name your price."
With the exception of an occasional guest appearance by the author, any similarity to actual events or to actual people, living or dead, is purely coincidental in this work of fiction.
Construction Business Owner, August 2005