Being a small business owner isn’t easy. In a world overtaken with large corporations and processes that are becoming more complicated, it takes grit and hard work to keep competitive with the big guys. Contractors already are faced with minimal profit margins and difficulty finding employees. Staying competitive is key to ensuring future projects and profits. The key to staying competitive is – you guessed it! – technology.
It’s a buzzword that has begun to be tossed around in the industry more and more. As a small business, it can be hard to know where to start. What’s clear is that the construction industry in 2020 demands a level of technological knowledge.
While there are small things you can do to embrace construction technology as a small business, there are a few pieces of technology that are needed for small businesses that want to stay competitive against larger companies.
1. Lean In and Be Open to Existing Construction Technology
One of the best ways to keep yourself in the competition is to show a willingness to learn, adapt and grow in a technological time. It doesn’t need to be about what your business is doing but how you use the technology available.
Using e-commerce solutions like DOZR to source equipment is a way to make projects efficient, to streamline equipment rental accounts and to help move project management to an online space.
Virtual reality training spaces, GPS in equipment, and Building Index Modeling are all existing technologies that can help bring efficiency and updated safety to a project. Something as simple as a willingness to learn and adapt to new tech opportunities can help keep your business in the game
Image borrowed from Construction Executive.
2. Get Your Business Online
Google searches and having an online presence is more important than ever. Construction is an industry that has often run off personal connections and relationships. Over 63% of people go to google to learn about a company and view reviews before giving them their business. Word of mouth is not enough anymore. Your company needs to be available online.
Plus, the more ways there are for people to find you, the more business you can get in general. Staying competitive doesn’t have to mean winning all the big projects and bids – it can simply be about staying relevant in your current space.
Whether it’s through a company website or even Google My Business, it’s time for your small business to get online. Social media is another great way to gain exposure and increase awareness of your business.
Start with one and, if it’s going well, see about going onto the other. Taking on too much at once can be overwhelming so it’s important to just start off in a manageable way.
3. Digitize Documents and Implement a Cloud System
There are a number of cloud-based systems to make it easier for construction companies to manage documents and paperwork.
Having an organized, digital system to keep reports and documents organized will make budgeting easier in the future, can protect contractors from any legal issues down the line, and make it accessible for anyone across the company network.
Having a digital collection of past projects and all documents can also help with bidding and budgeting in the future. When documents and data become digitized, it is easier to sort through, to analyze and to take learnings from for future
There are many benefits to moving your construction business online. From securing information and data to making your business more visible to customers, utilizing the digital space for your business is a great move.
4. Embrace Robots and Autonomous Equipment
The industry has been facing a labour shortage for years and it will not be getting better any time soon. While advancements in equipment technology may appear to be for larger companies, small businesses and independent contractors could reap the benefits of robots and autonomous equipment in the future to help keep their business competitive.
Another reason for small construction companies to embrace robots and autonomous equipment is that these advancements can make sites safer. While safety should always be a priority, small businesses are in a unique position to really push the safety message wherever possible. Most business owners are on the ground, interacting with employees on a daily basis.
The Spot robot from Boston Dynamics. Image borrowed from The Verge.
5. Use A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool to Maintain Customer Relationships and Entice New Customers
Customer relationships are so important. Technology is out there to help make managing relationships easier than ever. Leaning on a Customer Relationship Management tool – or a CRM – is not about taking authenticity out of relationships, but allowing construction companies to provide a better service to their customers and – ideally – provide a service that just isn’t possible by larger corporations.
CRM tools help to track conversations and requests from customers, keep track of projects, payments, deals, contracts and more all within a digitalized system. For small businesses, leaning on a CRM tool will help to set their customer service abilities apart from what large companies can do with the same tools.
One study from 2016 found that almost 65% of a company’s business can come from existing customers. It can be a deciding factor for potential customers, as well, when deciding what company to go with for a project or job. Word of mouth and reputation are top considerations for potential customers and should not be underestimated. Using CRM technology to create a more personalized experience can keep small businesses competitive with larger companies that may have more resources in other ways.
Being competitive in a time of technology is not about having the latest, greatest gadget to show off. It’s about embracing what technology is about there and setting your business up to be ready to change with the times.
These five steps are ways for a small construction company to do just that!
What do you do to embrace technology and stay competitive? Let us know in the comments below.