June 27, 2009

Business Development

Job coaching is the way to grow for businesses

Business coaches can use a variety of approaches to help construction companies reach their objectives and take their businesses to the next level.

Rob Carol is a business coach with Action International Canada.

He uses five basic categories of techniques to help owners develop sales, marketing and team building strategies.

“Firstly, we assess all businesses in the same way, because they have the same basic elements,” said Carol.

“But, in construction different elements will be emphasized more. Often contractors don’t know they are good at something or what is special about them, until someone comes in from the outside with fresh eyes and points it out to them.”

The first category identified by Carol is lead generation and his company has a list of methods that can help.

Other techniques are also employed.

“One of the biggest lessons for contractors is that it is not all about price,” he said.

“There is a value component. We help contractors understand how they are different from their competitors.”

For example, Carol had a meeting with employees at a fencing and gate contractor, who initially said there was nothing different or unique about their product.

“Finally, someone said we use three inch pipe because our hinges are bigger and everyone else uses two inch pipe,” said Carol.

“Then I found out they have bigger hinges because the gates are bigger and last longer. They also had certified welders to put the hinges on the pipe and owned a proprietary gate mechanism.”

Another fresh approach is to assess how much it costs to acquire new business.

This means determining the average cost of attracting a customer using the yellow pages or other advertising.

“We had a roofing company that had 12 different ways of generating leads and getting clients, including advertising, tradeshows and referrals,” said Carol.

“The cheapest and most effective way of getting clients was through referrals, so we set up a referral based system.”

The fourth category that can help companies boost performance is to increase average dollar sales.

This is achieved by finding ways to encourage customers to spend more on products or services, as well as make these purchases more often.

The fifth and final measure can be implemented to better understand the businesses financials.

It focuses on tracking the money being spent on staff and to make other purchases, including materials.

Moreen Singh takes a different approach to job coaching.

“Coaching is specific to the problems that a business faces and what they are trying to achieve,” said Singh, principal with Shealon Business Planning and Coaching.

“My program is to go in and assess where they are as a business and a leader of a business. I then go in and design a customized process.”

Singh does a lot of work with engineering firms.

She finds that the nature of the firms precludes using the cookie-cutter approach, as they have very different problems and goals.

“There is not a right or wrong way, but there has to be a fit” she said.

“If someone doesn’t have good business experience, the individual steps approach is good.”

Carol said the average construction contractor typically comes up through the ranks of a trade and doesn’t always have the necessary business training.

“They work long hours and take very few vacations and build the business up to a point, but can’t grow any further,” he explained.

“They may be the constraint.”

Business coaches are intended to help owners generate more business and increase profit.

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