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By Duane Craig
November 21, 2016
There is much talk about the value of visibility, or transparency, in managing construction projects. The short list of advantages includes increased trust among participants, better decision-making, a focus on the needs of the project, and fewer project failures.
But did you know that if your organization is known for its transparency it becomes more attractive to new customers?
Transparency is just another way to describe visibility. When people can view information and data that are relevant to the things they value, it helps them understand more than just the surface aspects. One example of this relates to pricing.
When you give a customer a price for a portion of a construction project, and you don't supply any additional information like materials costs and labor costs, the customer has less information available for understanding the details of the work.
There's also the possibility that the person will trust you less because you are not forthcoming with information that is directly related to the price you provided. Assuming you have a process in place that helps you sort out the frauds from the serious buyers, you know that taking the time to make pricing transparent is crucial for potential customers.
When you give a detailed price, the person gains understanding and is in a better position to trust you. The understanding comes from knowing the individual costs of the components included within the price. They trust you more because you have been open about what you charge. When they compare your price to others who provide little to no details, there is more opportunity for you to differentiate your business.
For example, if your costs for labor are higher, it’s because you make sure you have the proper insurance coverage, and you pay for quality workers and protect their health and safety. If your materials price is higher, it’s because you pay special attention to the materials you source so they return more value over the long term. And, when they compare your price to others who don’t provide the details, they are more inclined to trust you and see the true value you offer.
Gaining the advantages of transparency in marketing your construction business comes down to understanding where transparency is valuable to current and potential customers. While most construction projects begin with bids and estimates that go into great detail about the price of the project, there are background areas where transparency is also important, but where it is often lacking, especially in the types of projects undertaken by small construction firms. For most owners, the very first place where transparency is a game changer, is when it comes to the details about you, and your business.
Owners who have never done business with you before must piece together who you are from disparate sources if you don't provide that information. Think about all the things owners must trust about the person who is going to manage a project involving a lot of money.
If you are a sole proprietor, there is no corporate entity behind you that can vouch for your effectiveness as a manager, your skills at building, and your abilities as a business owner. And, the owner is also left to trust that your ethics will benefit their project. It's much easier for an owner to simply hire a contractor they have worked with before, or one that has been referred by people they trust. So, the more transparent you are, the easier it is for an owner to trust you.
It's easy to try to impress owners with testimonials and previously completed projects, but it is something else entirely to help them understand your business. When an owner can see the dollar value of the projects you have completed, they get a much better picture of where your experience lies. When an owner knows how you value your equipment, buildings, and other business assets, they gain an understanding about not only how serious you are about your business, but also about how well you manage it.
Besides making your business more attractive to new and current clients, a core value of transparency in your construction firm inspires loyalty not only from customers, but from employees and other project stakeholders.
Most construction projects also involve banks and insurance companies. So, there are many eyes on the participants in projects. When you make information about you and your business readily accessible, it helps to build trust with all stakeholders. When you are transparent about your business and the project contract, it directly affects employee and customer levels of trust. Others working on the project become more willing to share information with you, and that improves collaboration.
The Anatomy of a Request for Information (RFI)
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