David Crick from Contractors Marketing Services says timing is everything and explains how to use the planning process to get in at the right time.
Smart construction sales is all about identifying the jobs you want, and then proactively chasing them down. To do that well you need to know when to throw your hat in the ring. Pick up the phone too early and you’ve got nothing specific to talk about. Too late and others have already got their names on the tender list.
Fortunately, the planning system has all the information that you need to track a job through. It’s publicly available, and all one needs to do is keep an eye on it and get in touch at the right stage – different companies need to make their approach at different times.
The earliest type of sales lead that you’re going to come across is pre-planning leads. These are the ones that come up in the press, so we’re talking about larger developments. Major contractors might want to get in touch, and occasionally architects or surveyors may be able to use these leads.
Outline applications come next, and this is where local property firms want to get involved, and builders who design and build. Consulting engineers and surveyors will be appointed imminently, so it’s last chance for those professionals.
Stage three is where most building firms join the chase, along with materials suppliers. It’s where detailed planning applications are submitted. That’s when to get in touch – don’t wait for planning permission to be granted. Projects can move forward very quickly after approval, and there’s a delay of several working days between the decision being made and the result being posted on the market intelligence services. Permission is refused about a quarter of the time, so some builders prefer to wait. In my experience though, you’ll often be too late. Besides, not everyone has the patience to stick with a job as it is tweaked and resubmitted. If you do, you’ll show your faith in the project, and will be in with a better chance of winning the work when it does move forward.
Next comes the tender stage, where the main contractors will be submitting their prices. There’s a three or four week window here where subcontractors can begin make contact, mainly if you’re early on site, in demolition or groundwork. As a subcontractor you’ll be bidding with a main contractor who may or may not actually win the work. So why not find out who else is on the tender list, get in touch with them, and copy your price across?
Most subcontractors will be joining at stage five, when the main contractor has been appointed. The earlier you are on site, the earlier you want to be in touch. Those trades that come in later, electricians and decorators, might want to wait a week or two to avoid the rush.
Those are the five stages of the planning process that construction marketers need to know. If you know where your firm comes in the order, you’ll know when to pick up the phone and win the work.
Download the CMS Really Useful Guide to Construction Marketing.
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