Heather Martin

Put in perspective, the U.S. economy has been through its share of economic downturns – and come out the other side.  Yet this is the first truly global recession, and the news that has come out in recent months has been disconcerting; but the U.S. has always come out of economic downturns, even if the process is painful.

We are witnessing an age where human capital is shifting from finance into other areas of our economy.  This combined with the likely passage of the deficit spending “stimulus bill” by our new President, should prove beneficial for the construction industry.

Business always entails an inherent risk, but knowing that we are in exceptionally challenging times, here are four steps you can take to stay focused and on track during this recession:

#1 - Sell, Sell, Sell

Stay focused on selling your products or services.  You can’t wait to build momentum until the economy comes back – you must be in the game now to reap the benefits as the economy picks up and opportunities arise.  Plus, you might land a deal you didn’t expect.

Those companies who make it through the tough times will be poised to take advantage of the economy once it picks up.  Have a plan and stay focused.  If you have to, work harder – bid more jobs, meet with more clients.  But whatever you do – sell, sell sell!

#2 - Reinvent Yourself

A lot of people will be selling aggressively.  Reinvent yourself.  Try a new tactic. Ask for the opportunity to tell clients what you can do.  A confident consultative-style presentation could do wonders.  Desperation will come across as such.  If you need more work then bid more jobs, set up more client meetings and stay organized.  But don’t make the mistake of panicking. Have a plan for how much you want to sell and where those sales will come from and then act on it. 

Architects or engineers may find that by focusing on design-build alliances with General Contractors will provide a solution that owners or agencies may appreciate.  If it can save time or money, your client should be willing to entertain it.

#3 - Maintain a Positive Attitude

Being negative or anxious won’t change or fix anything.  Things that are outside of your control will remain that way whether you are fretting or confident.  So stay upbeat.  Your clients and employees will appreciate your confidence and persistence.  Furthermore, it is difficult to focus when you are anxious. Have a plan for your success, act on it and stay positive. 

#4 - Service your Current Clients

Just as it is important to get new clients, it is equally important to keep the existing ones happy with the level of service you are providing.  As the environment become increasingly competitive, it will be important to further cultivate your existing relationships.  Let your clients know they are valued and make sure they are getting the service they need.  Meet with them over lunch or coffee to make sure there is nothing lacking in the delivery of your product or service.  It is also helpful if you can provide your clients referrals.  They will appreciate your efforts to help them with their business.

Times are tough, but the principles and attitudes that make winners do not change.  Stay positive, persistent and act in ways that build your business.  And when the economy returns into a full swing, you will be poised to take advantage of it and grow your bottom line.

Heather Martin is currently the Vice President of Sales for EAI Inc, an environmental consulting and contracting company based in Jersey City.  She has extensive experience with the installation of gas vapor barriers and other services related to brownfield redevelopment in the tri-state area.

Let’s be honest.  We’ve seen better times than this. Some of us are doing well, while others are struggling to survive.  But we are all faced with increasing volatility and uncertainty, and a general waining of confidence.