Contributed by Eric D. Lussier
With 2018 behind us, and with that another great year of articles, podcasts and many workshops across the nation (and even one in Canada), Let’s Fix Construction looks forward to 2019, as do many others. A new year starts with fresh energy, renewed spirit, a hopeful change of habits and a positive outlook.
With 2019 facing us and 2018 in the rearview mirror, Let’s Fix Construction is using this post for a Call to Arms. A challenge, if you will. Hopefully you can identify your role, or more than one, in this list. Don’t see a challenge that calls to you? Identify your own. Step out of your comfort zone and move yourself and the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry forward.
Educate yourself before you proceed with your project, especially if it is your first one! Take the time to learn the roles of the major players in a building project. Vet your architect, construction manager, general contractor and any other major contractor or consultant that you are going to be contractually obligated to. You don’t have to be best friends, but it will go a long way if you know who you will be working with and get along with them. What makes them tick? What sets them off? What are their expectations? What are their expectations of you? And in the end, if you really want to educate yourself about a project, get a copy of the Construction Specifications Institute’s ‘Project Delivery Practice Guide’. It could just be the best $129 you’ve ever spent. AND save you a thousand-fold in the long run.
Projects are getting increasingly complex and the demands on you, your supporting staff and ultimately, your entire office are growing as well. The world we live in changes rapidly and with that the demands that are put on all the major players in a project. You’re being asked to do much more in much less time for the same amount of money. Practice saying no. Don’t be afraid to lose a client that expects more from you without understanding your point of view. Make sure you and your staff are compensated appropriately for your time. Track all costs and analyze your data. If you are able to reference a completed project that is similar in size and scope of a new project you are working on, you will be able to substantiate to the Owner why you have the requests, both financial and otherwise, that you do.
Contributed by Brent Williams
Hi, I’m Brent Williams and I’m a self-described construction materials geek. I come from an architecture background, but I was serendipitously detoured into the product rep world…and I’ve never looked back. Why, you ask?
Because I love working in the visual oriented design world that we live in. I’ve been lucky enough to become a hyper-specialist in one, weird little construction product. But my product is unusual & amazing, it solves a myriad of issues in the industry and I completely love my amazing job.
A big chunk of what a professional building product rep does on a daily basis is explain exactly where, why, how and how not to deploy these products to the design community. In medical terms, our friends in the Architecture world are General Practitioners, while the rep is a Micro Neurosurgeon. Architects, by the design of their craft, need to know at least a little bit about everything. Me? I need to know everything that there is about one tiny little thing. More importantly, I need to know what THEY need to know about my tiny little corner of the world.
And therein lies the magic, the alchemy, as it were. Product Reps have to communicate quickly and accurately, at an incredibly high level of proficiency, in both directions…both to and from the client. You simply must be empathetic, intuitive and proactive. Not the simplest matrix of executables and doubly tough to execute rapidly and on the fly. Nothing less than excellence will be tolerated by the modern construction industry.
An experienced rep needs to be both an incredible listener yet anticipate issues and questions almost before they are spoken. Frankly, all of us in the product representation arena either hold this skill set, or we’re not around very long. Check any employment website, or look on LinkedIn, and there are lots of vacancies for reps and lots of reps looking for employment.
If you think about it, just about everyone involved in the design industry must possess most of this skill set in order to be able to sustain the construction process. You either communicate at scale, or you’re gone. No quarter. You can’t do a proper program unless you can communicate at a very high level, with all of the constituents in and on a project.
Contributed by Cherise Lakeside
This past October, Let's Fix Construction once again attended CONSTRUCT in Long Beach, California and as members of the Education Advisory Council, we found it to be one of the best yet. We are honored to partner and work with CONSTRUCT as the show holds much the same philosophy as we do here at Let’s Fix Construction: bringing all parties of the project team together to learn, discuss issues and grow as a TEAM.
CONSTRUCT offers an environment where attendees can discuss issues in a way that we often cannot under the rules of communication in a construction Contract. There are few other conferences that have representative voices from the entire built environment in a room discussing our industry and needs - all with an equal seat. The best thing about CONSTRUCT is that it is not focused on any one discipline within the AEC Industry. Architects, Specifiers, Contractors, Engineers, Consultants, Subcontractors, Product Reps and Owners all have educational opportunities to learn and further your career. The social and collaborative environment of the show makes the education provided that much more valuable.
CONSTRUCT is an annual event that offers the opportunity to share best practices, learn the latest in construction industry design and processes, project delivery, specifications, contract administration, building product manufacturer (BPM) education and much more. The education, events and show floor are all formatted in a way to serve any member of the building team. The education is enhanced by the ability to discuss and share experiences on topics that we deal with every day in this industry.
CONSTRUCT is a great conference because of the diverse industry professionals that join us to share knowledge, solutions and real-world practices that can be used as soon as you return to your office or the job site. Speakers and instructors from all across the industry join us so we can all come to the table and learn from each other.
CONSTRUCT WANTS YOU!
The Call for Sessions for 2019 is out for submissions. CONSTRUCT is looking for industry leaders - in ALL disciplines - to consider submitting a proposal to speak or teach at CONSTRUCT. Now is your chance to share your knowledge and turn what you’ve learned into a unique presentation that will help improve the construction community. Consider submitting a proposal for CONSTRUCT 2019, which will be held October 9-11 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland (right across the bridge from Washington DC).
Contributed by John Wheaton
If the first question a client or prospective client asks about is related to price, then we know that their values are centered around cost. Most attempts to sell them otherwise will not typically work. To this purchaser, value is based on low price, and the product or service is viewed as a commodity. If the client-buyer is interested in what we’ve got, and we aren’t the low price, they may ask us to justify ourselves. I got this question last week “Why are you double the other price? Can you explain why your price is so high?” (This is a downward spiral by the way. Don’t answer the question to try to validate.)
I provided a polite and professional response, but didn’t answer the question exactly. I indicated what value was being provided and how the fee compared to other service-company fees in our category. My response asked the opposite question back, “Why is their price half of ours. Why are they so cheap? We are both looking at the same project, right?” Then I explained what was being provided and nothing more.
I didn’t hear back from that client yet. And there’s a good chance that I won’t. They will likely purchase the other provider’s services. Because what this client was really SAYING, not asking, was “Hey, you’re too expensive. I can get the same thing for 40% less.”
So why do I say that price is irrelevant? Because we buy based on our values. Price is the consequence, the manifestation. It’s not the issue. Price or cost-based buying says “any of these firms will do, just get me low price.” The problem with this is that the buyer is assuming that they are getting the identical service from any of the choices presented to them.
It’s never really about price. It’s about the buying mindset and values.
Cost-based buyers want low price. Cost leads the conversation.
Value-based buyers want what they perceive to be the best investment and value for the cost of the purchase. Value and investment leads the conversation, price falls out, sometimes negotiated, sometimes as stated.
Identity, connection, or brand-based buyers want to identify with a particular person, enterprise, brand or genre. Being connected to the associated values leads the conversation. Price is what it is; “If you want to be connected with us, the fees associated with that are as defined.”
Price is important, but price is really irrelevant. People already know about what they are willing to pay based on their mindset.
What kind of buyer are we seeking to attract?
What values are we seeking to communicate?
How is that portrayed in our brand?
Are we delivering?
Whatever we choose, we need to stick to it and dive deep. Pick a lane and stay in it. We can’t be all things to all people.
Contributed by Eric D. Lussier & Cherise Lakeside
Part I: Written by Cherise Lakeside - Co-Founder - Let's Fix Construction
In honor of Thanksgiving week, we thought we would take a breather from our typical posts and stop for a moment to share our gratitude.
August 15, 2018 marked the two year anniversary of Let’s Fix Construction. This passion project to bring the various disciplines together for positive, forward thinking solutions in AEC has been an adventure that neither one of us could have anticipated.
For me personally, this effort has been a growth experience that has continually surprised, empowered and motivated me to do even more to make a difference. I couldn’t begin to quantify the value of what I have learned or the amazing people that I have met along this LFC journey.
What did we do this year and what am I thankful for?
Let's Fix Construction is an avenue to offer creative solutions, separate myths from facts and erase misconceptions about the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry.
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