6 Things to look for in a partner
By Vince Fudzie
This is the first part of a series that discusses what to consider in choosing a partner, what needs to be in your agreement and how the venture will operate.
Wikipedia defines a strategic alliance as an agreement between two or more parties to pursue a set of agreed upon objectives needed while remaining independent organizations. For our purposes, an alliance between a small company and a larger one can take many forms from a teaming agreement to a 50:50 joint venture.
A simple Google search reveals tons of information discussing the topic of strategic alliances. However, it is a challenge to find one cogent article on how to successfully develop alliances between small and large contractors. In practice, alliances are difficult to manage under the best of circumstances, let alone in a situation that may have been born solely out of socio-political influences.
Because choosing the wrong partner can have disastrous financial consequences for smaller contractors with limited resources, this decision is crucial. I am amazed by how many companies haphazardly form ventures without first thoroughly vetting one another’s cultures, ethics and business philosophies. Before entering into an agreement, as is the case with any relationship, it is wise to get to know your partner first.
If the following character traits sound like advice from a marriage counselor, then you’re absolutely correct. An alliance is very much like a marriage, so make sure that your partner has a good number of these traits:
- Commitment. Without both companies’ wholehearted commitment from the top to the lowest levels of their organizations, the venture is destined to fail. In general, this commitment needs to focus on the overall success of the joint venture which is the only way to assure an equitable relationship. If this commitment does not exist, you should seriously reconsider entering into an agreement.
- Respect. A lack of respect can stem from a number of reasons, but it is often due to the perception by one of the parties that the other is receiving unequal rewards for the level of risk they are incurring. When this perception and resulting lack of respect permeate throughout your partner’s organization, it makes for a very contentious relationship. You need to talk with your partner early on to address such issues. If your company offered no value, then there would probably be no need to discuss partnering.
- Humility. Sometimes the nature of large businesses can breed a level of egotism that flourishes throughout the organization, even for newer, inexperienced employees. Having this type of partner can be disastrous, especially if this characteristic extends to interaction with project owners. Once an owner catches wind of an egotistical contractor, your project success is prone to disaster.
- Trust. Any viable relationship begins with trust between the parties, and, prior to inking any agreement, you must begin to develop it. Just as in personal relationships, trust can be developed in many ways. Behaviors such as developing rapport outside the office, following through on commitments, being well-versed in what you bring to the venture, standing up and taking responsibility for missteps, and being considerate of others’ time – these are the types of actions that create trust in business and in life.
- Shared Values. Good partners should possess shared values. For example, both firms should have similar values of integrity, collaboration, service and excellence. Alignment of core values will be critical for successfully working together. If one of the partners is short sided in any core value, it may lead to disappointing results for the project and discord between the parties.
- Vision. Too often, companies form alliances in a “just in time” fashion – just in time to turn the proposal in. They may even spend time developing a rapport. And, if they don’t win the proposal, there is a likelihood they may not speak again unless another opportune project presents itself. This is not how committed partners act. Partners with vision are committed, not only to the project, but to the relationship being built. They find a partner with the right traits and build upon their mutual bond. Otherwise, you are playing the game alone and never really creating a team with the best possibility of winning.
Choosing the right partner is simply the beginning of a potentially fruitful relationship. However, a successful venture will require not only the right partners, but well-thought-out and well-implemented agreements with the right heart and spirit by those involved.
Vince Fudzie MBA, CPA, CIRA, is the Managing Member of Triune. Founded in 1997 with headquarters in Dallas, Triune is a leading, integrated, design-build general contractor in the Southwest region of the country.
The Punch List is Triune’s proprietary blog for discussing issues and providing insights specific to the commercial construction industry. Copyright 2013 TMV, LLC (Triune). Any and all rights reserved.
5 Ways to immediately reduce your costs
By Christina Martinez
Many so-called traditional marketing methods such as advertising, trade shows and print literature are huge cost-drivers in any marketing budget. The good news is that it is possible to reduce these marketing costs and still be highly effective. Here are 5 ideas to immediately reduce your costs while still maximizing marketing results.
- Know the Customer. Marketing is expensive, and mistakes can crush a marketing budget. Avoid mistakes by getting acquainted with the customer. Know the segments, needs, decision makers and more by collecting and using data. House all of your customer data in a database or by using marketing automation software that can be updated easily.
Conduct research. One of the easiest ways to do this is by regularly surveying your customers and their needs. Surveys are inexpensive, and they will give you valuable information that can be used as a foundation for guiding marketing decisions. If you have trouble getting your customers to take your surveys, then provide incentives.
- Establish On-line Presence. Advertising is often the most costly component of any marketing budget. Gear your budget to invest more into search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing through blogging and social media.
Your website ranking can also make or break your marketing efforts. Chikita, an ad network, has continuously monitored search results to find that the top result on Google sees a 32.5% click-through rate, with continuous drop-offs from there (91.5% of clicks occur on the first page). So what exactly does this mean? Unless your website is ranked in the top few search result positions, all of the advertising in the world will not help you. Establish a quality website that is comparable to your leading competitors. And don’t forget to make sure that your site is mobile-friendly.
- Print Brochures are so 2005. Print may not be dead, but it could use some help. Whether seeing decreasing success in direct mail or increasing costs in brochure printing, it may be time to put more resources towards digital branding. Actively provide PDF versions of your advertising, and reduce print runs. You can always keep brochures ready to be printed on a single-run, as opposed to wasting the money and space to store thousands of brochures. Furthermore, you can upload all of your PDF’s to a cloud storage provider like Dropbox, allowing potential customers to view your material more easily!
- Shape your Brand with Publicity. A saying that you need to take to heart: “Advertising and marketing is about saying how great you are. PR is getting others to do it for you.” PR or publicity placements are free by definition, with awareness building that rivals advertising! One such way to utilize publicity is through the issuances of new worthy press releases.
A few examples of how you can use PR to your advantage:
- Release Products using Free or Paid PR Wire Services
- Free: Check out this list of Free PR Submission Sites
- Paid: Great sites include PRWeb, BusinessWire, and PRNewswire
- Build Relationships with Reporters and Journalists
- Find Public Speaking Opportunities
A few good ideas for what to share:
- Participating in a philanthropic event
- New, significant customer
- Receiving an award
- Partnership and strategic relationships
- Names of significant new hires and/or promotions
Become familiar with the many facets of PR and make it a fundamental piece to your integrated marketing communications strategy.
- Repurpose Your Content. Content is king, but it doesn’t have to take up a huge portion of your marketing budget. Create content that will interest your current and potential customers, suppliers and subcontractors. Use the same content in different formats. Blog about your projects, post about the projects on social media, create a corresponding video, introduce yourself to customers and prospects via email, develop surveys, host a webcast or podcast and much more.
In addition to this, generating evergreen content will allow you to stretch your money. Evergreen content is quality, useful content that is relevant to readers over a long period of time. The fundamental key with evergreen content is that it is relevant to readers whenever they may run across it. It has (virtually) no expiration date and ideally will retain its value over the long-term.
Reducing marketing expenses for your business can be simple. Just be sure that you have a plan and follow through. It’s worth the savings!
Christina Martinez is Triune’s Director of Marketing and Business Development. Christina brings over 10 years of high level marketing experience to Triune. Triune is a leading, integrated, design-build General Contractor founded in 1997. Triune is headquartered in Dallas, TX – www.tmvllc.us
The Punch List is Triune’s proprietary blog for discussing issues and providing insight specific to the commercial construction industry. Copyright 2013 TMV, LLC (Triune). Any and all rights reserved.