We are an interiors subcontractor and are currently trying to create a company folder to show when we meet with general contractors. I don't quite know what type of information to include in the folder. I want to stand out and grab their attention, but I don't want to give too much information or the wrong information. Also, I recently launched a website, but I'm not completely happy with it. I'm twenty-seven years old and have been told that I'm too young, so I don't get a shot at some projects. Any advice on how to get past that barrier?

Denny Hardcastle, Castle Construction


Have faith. I started my construction company at the wise old age of 27. My first project was $750,000 in value. To convince a potential customer you are "old enough," you must sell confidence-confidence you can do a great job and are capable of finishing every project on time with great workmanship. Confidence is built by looking and acting like old companies. You must be well financed, organized, professional and act like the "big boys." Wear business clothes-slacks and a dress shirt-when visiting customers. And drive a business car, not a dirty pickup truck, to the meetings.

Present your company on professionally-designed stationary. Use professional quality digital color photos. Highlight your past projects with "one-sheets" displaying photos of finished projects and detailing the quality of each project. Include the customer's name for reference. To look like you can handle bigger jobs, include a map locating all the jobs you have built and a list of every job and size you have completed. Offer to take them on a tour of your shop and past jobs. Also, include a list of all your employees to show you can handle the work.

Then bring your financial statement with you to the meetings. Offer to tell them your bonding capacity, available banking line of credit, and company equity. And get your website perfect before you launch it. A website poorly done will reflect whether you have the ability to do quality work. I visited your site-it needs at least twenty other jobs you have completed to make it look "general contractor ready."

General contractors want to reduce their risk when hiring subcontractors. They don't want to hire a company who can't handle a job because of a lack of working capital, manpower or experience. You must convince them you have enough of all three requirements to get hired.


What's the best way to find new customers for our company to bid work? We are a commercial plumbing company located in Denver, CO.

Evan Miller, Miller Plumbing


Finding new customers takes time and money. To grow your business, get ready to invest at least $10,000 in marketing. The sources to find customers are unlimited in large cities like Denver. I would start by joining and attending monthly meetings and conventions of the Associated General Contractors (AGC), Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) and other builder associations.

Getting to meet and know potential customers is the fastest way to jumpstart your sales. I get cold calls every day from subcontractors looking for work to bid. Unless I have met them first, I don't give them much attention. You can also subscribe to local bid lead services who will give you updated lists of jobs bidding and the general contractors soliciting bids for these projects. Next subscribe to your local weekly business journal. They post a list of the largest twenty-five contractors in your city. If you invest at least 25 percent of your time selling and marketing, your sales will increase in any market.

Construction Business Owner, December 2008