When you hear the word “branding,” you may think of conventional marketing fodder, like logos, websites, or brochures. Traditionally, branding encompasses all the visual and tonal elements that allow potential customers to distinguish your company from competitors. For subcontractors, however, your logo and visual aesthetics do little to communicate the worth of your construction brand — your brand is really the value you deliver in the field and the reputation you establish as a result of that work.
Below, we’ll explore what branding truly means for subcontractors and 4 essential strategies to build a strong construction brand.
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What a Subcontractor’s “Brand” Really Means
The Starbucks brand was built on the concept of delivering consistent quality. When you see that signature green siren, you know you will get the same quality beverage, no matter which location you order from.
In a similar sense, a subcontractor’s brand is a consistent promise to deliver. A general contractor should hear your name and immediately know you will deliver reliable, high quality work; safely and on-budget, every time. That reputation is what allows your “buyers” — GCs — to distinguish your company in the market. Your brand is all about how GCs perceive you, because they are the avenue through which you get work.
Establishing that reputation, however, doesn’t happen by accident. Use the 4 following tips to build a strong brand that separates you from other subcontractors in your market.
A Strong Construction Brand Will Always…
1. Provide Accurate and Reasonably Priced Bids
Well thought-out bids are essential to maintaining a strong brand and preserving your reputation with GCs. When you provide a bid to a GC, they take that number and roll it into their total contract cost. If you come in over or under your estimated costs, they will have to edit their figures, which will cut into their own profit margin.
Providing an accurate, mid-range bid is best for building your construction brand and establishing a trustworthy reputation. Bid too low, and you risk looking like the cheap option. Bid too high, and it may be perceived as price gouging. The GC will learn that they can’t trust your numbers and likely won’t take your bids. Ultimately, your brand — and your business — will suffer. If you provide consistent, reasonable bids, GCs will take notice and understand that you are serious about winning projects.
2. Deliver Consistently High Quality Work in the Field
While a GC will initially consider awarding you a project based on the strength of your bid, there are several other factors they will take into account.
The GC will also examine:
- Your past performance on their projects, if applicable
- Your past performance on similar jobs for other GCs
- Your brand’s presence in the community
- Your degree of professionalism
- Your ability to get work done on schedule
If you’re known to not show up on time, not get materials to the jobsite on time, or are constantly going above the contract price, the GC will notice. This will cause issues for your brand. Your work on an individual project may impact your ability to win bids for future projects.
Pro Tip to Ensure Timely Work: Finance your project materials. This guarantees that your supplier is paid upfront, which means your materials are reliably delivered to the job site. This prevents a scenario where your supplier halts material deliveries because you’ve failed to make payments after they extended credit terms, keeping the entire project on schedule.
The Importance of Adhering to Safety Protocols as a Feature of Your Construction Brand
OSHA estimates that a staggering 25% of work-related fatalities come out of the construction industry. Equipment accidents, falls, and falling objects are an ever present risk on the jobsite. When you cultivate a culture of safety amongst your workers and rigorously adhere to safety protocols, this translates to an (ideally) accident-free environment, which the GC will take note of.
Not to mention, construction site accidents inflate the overall cost of a project, causing considerable delays that the GC will have to answer for. The best way to combat this is a company-wide dedication to complying with OSHA, federal, and state regulations. This begins with you, but it ends with your employees, which means you have to treat rigorous safety training as a fundamental pillar of your brand.
3. Nurture Your Relationship With the GC
Whether you win or lose a bid, strive to always nurture your relationship with the GC. That doesn’t mean inviting him or her out for lunch or a round of golf. Those outings are acceptable for networking, but when you have established a working relationship, there are better ways to demonstrate that you are reliable, considerate, and excellent to work with.
If you submit a strong mid-tier bid but aren’t awarded the job: You should still follow up with the GC. This shows class and works to build your brand, which may help you win future projects.
If you are awarded the project: Continue to build your relationship with the GC by being considerate of their time and money. For example, in some circumstances, the GC will be responsible for funding a change order. When you know they’re footing the bill, strive to keep costs down as much as possible.
In fact, it can be beneficial to offer complimentary change orders. Keep track of any work you did that may have required a change order, but was done without one. This shows you’re a team player who doesn’t nickel and dime your GC. This earns you a reputation as someone who’s easy to work with and may help you land more projects in the future. This is a great return on investment for absorbing the cost of small tasks without change orders.
4. Create A Compelling Personal Brand as the Owner of Your Business
In a traditionally casual industry, it can pay to go the extra mile to present yourself with professionalism and polish. The way you carry yourself — including both your personality and outward appearance — when meeting with commercial customers or visiting the field can change the way others perceive you and your construction brand.
But don’t stop with just yourself. Encourage your crew and estimators to present themselves professionally, as well. You want to promote the perception that everyone associated with your brand is reliable and easy to work with.
With that in mind, you can also showcase your professionalism, personality, and expertise through a video on your website. That way, potential customers — even those you have yet to meet — will be aware of your personal brand, and your reputation can precede your high-quality work.
Building a strong construction brand as a subcontractor comes down to being professional, reliable, and trustworthy. When you consistently deliver high quality work, you will distinguish yourself among your competitors and peers — and ultimately, win more jobs.
Billd can help you establish that brand by enabling you to keep material deliveries consistent and paid for on time, so GCs will see you as reliable and trustworthy. Learn more about how Billd can help you build a strong brand and a reputation of reliability.