Why A/E/C Firms Need a Good Website?

Published in SMPS Oklahoma’s Oklahoma Marketer – June 2011

I’m sure you’ve heard something like this before, “We don’t need a website, we do public low-bid RFPs,” and, “We’ve been in business since 19 something, it’s about relationships, not fancy websites.”  I agree completely that the A/E/C industry is about relationships. Whether it’s a public project or private work, or dealing with a client or sub-contractor, relationships are the key.

Moreover, a well-designed website with attention to functionality and content, will help build stronger relationships with your current clients, assist with developing new relationships, and position you in the driver’s seat for new projects.

Here are a few things to consider when thinking about getting a website or deciding if you need to redevelop your company’s current website:

New Relationships – How does your business grow? Either by increasing the amount of work awarded from each client or by gaining new clients. What happens if one of your longtime clients is bought-out, closes their doors, or something as unexpected as your contact leaves? Just to compete with attrition, you’ll need to constantly search for new clients to maintain the same level of business. Many times a relationship is started at a networking event or through word-of-mouth. After this exchange, that new prospect or general contractor may look up your company on the internet. Your website can capitalize on the opportunity to tell them about key projects, your company history, capabilities, and service area, etc. to entice them to call you. They want to make sure reaching out to you is worthwhile. Does your website make it worthwhile for them? Don’t you want to be the one to tell them about your company instead of someone else?

Credibility/Best Value – A good website builds credibility and demonstrates stability. Your website should showcase your best work, your team, capabilities, your unique differentiation and value proposition while compelling prospective customers to work with you. When pursuing a best-value proposal, the panel reviewing your RFP submittal will likely reference your website to see if your company is legit, and for confirmation that you can handle the work. They are looking for a company to entrust with a multi-million dollar project, and they are going to do their due diligence, especially when dealing with the private sector. In the public sector with new transparency regulations, the panel must justify and defend their decision. A solid website can give them the ammunition to fight for your company to get the work.

Be a Resource – Many times the people making the decision to hire you or your competitor have not done this before, you can make it easy on them by providing some education. Educating your prospects will lessen your prospecting time, position you as the expert, and help disqualify your competitors. An added bonus, an expert can charge more for their knowledge, especially in an industry niche. Wouldn’t you pay 20% extra to go with the company that has completed 8-12 projects similar to yours, that knows where to cut costs and when not to, and has the relationships and resources in place to complete the project on time? I’m betting you would!

Recruit the Best – What happens when one of your best employees quits, retires, or gets hurt? You need a constant pool of talent applying to work for your company. The next generation of workers is looking on the web and if you’re not on the web, you do not exist to them. What young twenty-something wants to work for a company without a quality website?  If you seem to be a good steward of your business, then it’s likely you take good care of your people too.

Didn’t Know You Did That! – This is the dagger in the heart of anyone in business development – when a customer says they went with a competing company because they “didn’t know you did that.” Failure to properly cross-market to current customers happens all the time. A customer comes to you for one service, such as designing their new building, but goes to someone else for interior design because you didn’t make that service known. Your website, as well as other marketing materials, should educate your prospects and customers about the full extent of your offerings.

Outsiders – Today, many big box retailers have a general contractor who travels from city to city building their new retail stores. This contractor needs subs, engineers, landscapers, and suppliers.  Generally, this contractor does not have allegiances to anyone. How do they find the companies they need to partner with if they don’t have a relationship with you? Often, they’ll Google a specific trade or service in the area of the new development. Even if they call the local ABC or AGC chapter, they will get a list of names, and then they’ll search the web. What do they find when they look-up your company?

Make it Easy – I’m sure you’ve been there – on the road and you need to call someone, but you don’t have their phone number. You might even be lost because you have the wrong address. Having a website helps people find you and your contact info, including your location, easier. People are lazy; don’t make it harder for them to contact you about a new project.

More Business from Existing Relationships – You need to keep your website up-to-date with your best projects and latest news. You can take that a step further with a simple monthly email. With an email that showcases your recently completed projects, awarded projects, and new services, your company will stay top-of-mind with your clients, general contractors, and prospects. You should remind them of your greatness, and why they need to work with you – because you’re the best. A website can reinforce new and existing relationships alike, especially when teamed with a monthly email, e-newsletter, or even a mailed-hard-copy.

Now, about that new website…

All rights reserved. ©2011 by The Brand Constructors. Published with permission only.