Long-term relationships are forested. You can know someone for 50 years – see them at a project site, work event, or seminar – and never need to call on them for anything.
All it takes is one time though, and that person you have shaken hands with dozens of times can come out of the forest to help you in a time of need.
Sometimes, it takes years of knowing someone to finally see the type of value he or she can bring to you.
This holds true especially in the construction industry. From the influence of technology and aging demographics to material costs and the changing political tide, the construction industry is constantly fluctuating.
“I don't build in order to have clients. I have clients in order to build.” – Ayn Rand
Throughout the 25 years I’ve been in the industry – amongst all the ebbs and flows I’ve seen – one constant always remains: There is always a need to bring ideas to the table that simplify the construction process or make the project a complete success.
And, one of the best ways to get these ideas is to know someone.
Influence of Technology
Dating, ride sharing, and shopping, amongst other things, have been changed by the internet. We can’t deny that all phases of construction – and how we communicate about our projects – are also being transformed because of it.
From how developers are building for a 24/7-connected world and how GCs use bid software to track costs, to contractors who use drones to survey and the field workers who wear safety trackers, construction and how we communicate about our projects is becoming more reliant on the internet than ever.
The Value of a Relationship
However, long phone calls, lunch meetings, and business cards are not a thing of generations past. Many of us may prefer an internet-connected world (or have experienced nothing else . . . like millennials), but in-person relationships are still key in dictating how business deals are done.
In the construction industry, not all people you network with will bring you value immediately. Sometimes, it takes years to understand what that relationship can become.
Back in 2012, I had the pleasure of meeting a project manager who was involved with a large school project in Puerto Rico.
During the project, glass arrived damaged and unfortunately, getting new glass shipped to an island on such a tight schedule was nearly impossible. We were able to resolve the difficult situation with some intense coordination between Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope®, a CRH company, myself, and the project manager.
With some diligence from all companies involved and our position as the largest glass fabricator in the U.S., we were able to expedite deliveries and get the replacement glass delivered by the deadline successfully.
Five years later, this project manager reached out with a request. We had stayed in touch over the years, and as I had provided value to him earlier in Puerto Rico, he was able to do the same for Building Solutions. He was bringing our team into the construction process early in order for us to provide design assistance on a new cancer center in Jupiter, Florida.
As a result of our early involvement, both Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope and C.R. Laurence products are now the basis of design for the curtain wall and the storefronts in the development.
Helping Future Generations
There is no greater feeling than receiving a call from a customer that you helped years ago looking for support on their current project. Being that trusted ally not only gets you a seat at the table, but puts you in a position to drive the design process, bring other partners to the table, and increase your chances of success and closing the deal.
Some may be surprised to hear that the number of people in the 55+ age group who are working is growing. So, it may be no surprise that “old-fashioned” relationship nurturing methods are still some of the best ways for being successful in the industry.
As a newer generation of construction professionals join the field, it’s important to instill the importance of in-person relationships on them. Let the forest grow and reap the benefits for a lifetime.
Are you wondering if you have someone in your network who can provide advanced cost savings or a reduced schedule? Don’t underestimate the value of working with your material supplier early during the design phase.