In the sale of commercial building materials, you want every advantage you can get. Below are five tips to help you take advantage of what design-build contractors want from building materials manufacturers.
Before we get to the tips, let’s quickly review the key pressure points for design-build contractors.
- Delivering the right project on time and at, or under, budget, especially for publicly funded projects;
- Balancing high quality with cost and efficiency;
- Code compliance; and
- Shouldering risk involved in the project.
Given their situation, consider this: if you were walking in their shoes, what would you want from your building materials manufacturers?
Design Build Building Materials Manufacturers Should Be:
- A trusted partner.
Design-build contractors have a challenging balancing act, juggling specs, timelines, costs, quality, and compliance. These factors all impact each other: time issues cost money, quality issues mean delays, the wrong specs throw it all off balance.
That’s why they seek out building materials manufacturers who become trusted partners—suppliers to whom they can pivot quickly, knowing full well that this building materials manufacturer will turn on a dime and deliver the right product at the right cost.
- A flexible partner.
Whether the contractor is in talks with the owner about the project or is a couple of months into building it, issues related to the specs or the building materials themselves may surface.
In either case, the rubber is hitting the road, and that contractor has to know that each member of the contractor’s team—including the trusted building materials manufacturers—will have solutions. And those solutions have to be both right and rapid.
That may mean that the building materials manufacturer has to get creative about products, be flexible about costs (thinking in terms of a long haul relationship should help get you there), and/or be available for quick turnarounds. Yes, compromise may be part of the package, because the goal is a long-term partnership and, as with any partnership, some give and take becomes the norm.
- A knowledgeable partner.
A knowledgeable building materials manufacturer/partner can help the contractor up front, before anything gets built, by ensuring that the specs are the right ones for that owner and that project. That alone will save time and money while maintaining high quality standards and keeping compliant.
A knowledgeable building materials manufacturer/partner also will know the answers to questions that arise and know the solutions to problems that arise quickly and accurately.
5 Steps to Capture Your Design Build Advantage
We have covered the design-build scenario from the contractor’s perspective. Let’s turn to how you as a building materials manufacturer can capture an advantage with a contractor and become that trusted, go-to supplier.
- Communication: a huge advantage.
The best contractors understand the value of communication. Assumptions simply kill project timelines and budgets and add other risks, too, such as in the area of compliance. Getting all questions and concerns—as well as great ideas—out on the table as early as possible gives you the advantage because it helps make the contractor look good.
- Demonstrate flexibility.
Look at the situation from the standpoint of what will help the contractor succeed. Usually—whether at the bidding process or well into the job—that includes rapid and accurate response times and good pricing.
Ask yourself, how can I get my part done more quickly? Once you do, that becomes your advantage.
- Demonstrate knowledge.
Unless an owner wants an exact replica of a project that they have built before, you can play a key role in the project’s speed, code compliance, and cost maintenance with your knowledge and experience, especially when you consult with the contractor prior to finalizing contracts. Remember, too, that your expertise will be needed mid-project as issues and questions arise.
Knowledge is a key advantage, too, because it is a cousin to flexibility. The more you know, the easier it becomes to think creatively about materials and costs. If you demonstrate these types of advantages, your contractor will be sure to view you as a trusted team member.
- Demonstrate speed.
Time and money are virtually inseparable for design build contractors. The only partners they trust are those who can respond rapidly. Do that consistently and you have a significant advantage.
- Market the advantage.
If your marketing materials and your web site are limited to traditional architectural specification scenarios, you are not taking advantage of about half of the opportunities in the commercial construction industry.
Consider revising your sales and marketing strategies to include two separate sections, one directed at traditional architectural specification projects and one directed at design-build projects.
- From takeoffs to change orders, design-build contractors look for partners who understand their pressure points and their goals. Communicating your understanding of what design-build contractors want from building materials manufacturers will be a key advantage.
- Consider using social media to communicate your readiness to partner with design-build contractors as a trusted team member.