Most people think of commercial construction as a physical, “bricks and sticks” industry. But if you ask me, commercial construction is first and foremost about relationships. After all, the strongest foundation you can give any commercial construction project is a solid partnership between the client and the commercial contractor. That’s why at Englewood Construction, we work hard at building relationships at every phase of business – starting with our business development efforts and continuing across multiple touchpoints with current and prospective clients. Here are three examples of great customer relationship management practices:
Opening New Doors:
Growing a business often entails thinking outside the box about where and how to mine opportunities, so having an extensive network of relationships to tap into is incredibly important in making new connections that lead to new business. To that end, we recently added to Englewood’s business development team with the hire of Casey Urlacher, who is the current mayor of Mettawa, Ill., a former Arena Football Player and the brother of NFL Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher.
At first glance, Casey’s resume is a bit unorthodox for a commercial construction company. But looking deeper, Casey’s experiences spanning business, professional sports, local government and even several restaurant and real estate development ventures have given him valuable assets that readily translate to commercial construction success: a robust personal network and skill at creating and maintaining great connections. Plus, there’s a lot of crossover between the world of professional athletics, where he already has strong in-roads, and the restaurant industry – a commercial construction sector where Englewood has a proven track record, especially with fine-dining and sports-based concepts such as the Chicago Sports Museum and Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch.
Casey is a great example of why it’s important not to pass on a great hire just because their commercial construction experience isn’t typical. Think creatively about what employees bring to the table – particularly with the current tight hiring market in this industry.
Building Long-Term Partnerships:
Building good customer relationships is important not only in opening up new doors and opportunities, but also in establishing long-term connections that can be incredibly fruitful. When I was a young laborer, I was working a project at 900 N. Michigan Avenue on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile when one day I met the retailer’s construction manager and we hit it off immediately. We kept in touch as I moved to the project management side of the business and he moved around to positions with several national retailers. He’s remained a client for more than 28 years – spanning projects with at least six different brands he’s worked with in that time.
While my personal relationship with this client was one reason Englewood continued to be his contractor of choice across different brands, another factor was that Englewood repeatedly executed quality work time and again. The proof is in the pudding, and there’s nothing like a series of smooth and successful projects to serve as the basis for a long-term partnership. It’s also important to nurture those connections. Simple steps like reaching out to thank a client you’ve worked with for more than 10 years, or putting in a call to check in even when there isn’t a job on the table, can go a long way toward building goodwill and staying top of mind.
Expanding Existing Customer Relationships:
And sometimes a good relationship can become a better relationship. One way we have expanded existing client relationships is through Englewood’s Facility Management group, which we launched several years ago. We’ve found that one of the benefits clients appreciate most about using Englewood for facilities management is that they can turn this function over to a trusted partner – a contractor with which they already have a relationship and high comfort level. And for us, it’s yet another avenue for us to deepen a client relationship by serving them in a different way.
In fact, we were recently tapped for facilities maintenance work by a high-end day care provider who has been a client for more than 10 years. Our past work with this firm entailed building out new locations for them across the country, so when they decided to outsource facility maintenance they were happy to know we also offered those services. Now, we’re handling Facility Management and maintenance for a large percentage of this long-standing client’s Midwest fleet.
Ideally, a general commercial construction contractor isn’t just a vendor or service provider, but instead a true partner a client relies on to guide them through the construction process. No matter how it begins or where it takes us, it’s the relationship at the heart of it all that leads to success.