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.

Heather Martin

The good news is that the stimulus package has passed, and that should equate to more money for New York Construction projects. The bad news is that we are still not out of the recession. What to do about it?

Get back to basics.

The basics of constructability still matter. And now is the time to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Not for the short run, but for the long run. A shift in habits now can take you through this recession, and beyond it.

First and foremost, construction is a service business. We all know competition is (and has been) stiffening. So why not give a little more than expected? Many of us have been responsive to our clients’ needs, but the current economic climate makes us all the more aware of the need for quick and quality responses to new, current and existing customers.

In addition to added customer service, even before the contract has arrived on your desk, your clients look to you to solve their problems. Often we do the same things so often that we forget what we already know – such as ways to save the client money in a way that adds value to the project, but provides you as the contractor with cost savings.

Maybe you are privy to an additional way to reach a desired goal on a site. Maybe an innovative solution that was used on a project you worked on. Make the suggestion! Designers know a lot about products and their specifications, but when you can provide a consultative option to save an owner or builder time and/or money, you not only achieve these savings. You also display your willingness to be a partner with your client in helping them achieve their desired goals.

EAI recently discovered this when pitching to a client who was looking for an environmental building solution. By providing two options that could achieve the same goal, as well as giving them side-by-side comparison data of both products, we were able to give the client greater options and hopefully close a sale.

Furthermore, once you have a contract as a prime contractor or subcontractor, you have an additional opportunity to provide insight and help in constructability. For example, we install a fluid-applied vapor barrier at numerous sites throughout the tri-state region. Prior to submittals, if we feel that we can provide suggestions to the details that will make constructability more efficient – and yet still give the owner the level of quality they want in the installation – then everyone wins.

At the heart of construction is efficiency and methodology, and any suggestions you can make to speed up construction in an effective way that does not reduce quality is a great addition to any project.

Lastly, pre-construction meetings with trades and subcontractors can make a difference, especially if they are focused on sequencing and coordination. Pre-construction meetings should occur after submittals are in and prior to a subcontractor beginning work. Focus on the process of construction or installation for each subcontractors work, any limitations, and QAQC. This can help everyone get up to speed on procedures in the field, prior to mobilization. The key is to ask the right questions, have the right coordination of subcontractors pre-installation and of course, hire quality subcontractors.

At the end of the day – whether good economy or bad – good habits are critical to getting business, delivering efficient projects (and increasing your profit in the process), and making yourself valuable to clients. The impetus is upon us with a tough economy to expand and grow to meet the challenges we are facing with new creativity and enthusiasm. But realize that once the good habits have been established, they become a wealth of tools that we carry with us to assist us in the growth of our business and our bottom line.