One of the most fundamental components of owning and operating a business is being able to sell your services or products. Key to success is having a detailed understanding of what you are selling and being able to educate others about its benefits. This is certainly true in the construction industry. Being able to show others why tilt-up is the optimal solution will set you apart from your competition and position you for success.
To sell others on tilt-up you—or your sales staff—must understand the process. It's difficult to describe without
having witnessed it. With this knowledge you will be able to break the process down into easily understandable components. Understanding what has been accomplished on previous projects is critically important, especially if you are new to tilt-up, since you will be selling from other companies' experience. You are in luck though, because you have any number of feats to choose from—70-foot clock towers and striking religious facilities to lighthouses and lifestyle malls. Know why tilt-up was selected for these projects and be able to provide details on cost or schedule savings that tilt-up can provide. Familiarize yourself with the variety of architectural finishes, end-uses, and what can be done with tilt-up. Reviewing the recent award winners and newsletters from the Tilt-Up Concrete Association (TCA) is a good place to start.
Once you have a detailed understanding of the method, it is time to begin selling tilt-up. While it is important to understand the differences between tilt-up and competing methods, it is always better to avoid bashing other methods or making false claims. Negative selling is not only a poor technique but is damaging to the construction industry as a whole. Also, don't sell tilt-up as the cheapest way to go. This kind of selling positions people to look at initial cost only. Even if tilt-up is the most economical method, you also want to sell its other attributes including durability, life-cycle costs, and speed of construction. Avoid any advertising or marketing that furthers misconceptions about tilt-up such as being the only answer for gray boxes. Doing so could pigeonhole your firm and hurt the tilt-up industry.
One way to sell tilt-up is to host presentations about the method. This will make your firm the premier resource on the subject and foster understanding within the building community. Using visual aids such as videos, photos, or scale demonstrations is helpful. Your audience may have very little knowledge of the construction industry, so, if you overwhelm them with technical details. they may lose interest in your presentation. You should also be able to clearly describe how tilt-up differs from precast, masonry, and metal construction. This method has been extremely successful for many tilt-up professionals who have presented to local architects, developers, and even school boards. TCA has a Power-Point presentation as well as a variety of other materials available for members to use in their selling efforts.
Community and public relations
Watching panels being tilted into place never gets boring. It is a dramatic and exciting process that makes a great story. Hold a tilt-up party and invite media and prospects to attend. Invite them on the second day of tilting, not Day One, so you are better organized and any problems can be ironed out on the first day. Of course, remember to keep safety first. If you are working on a project that needs the support of a community such as a religious or educational facility, get them involved in the project by encouraging them to attend lift day. One innovative contractor encouraged members of a congregation to write messages on the interior of panels that would eventually be covered. The gesture allowed the church community to actively participate in the project and leave their mark on their new facility.
You can also help educate the media about tilt-up by sending them stories, articles, and ideas. Participate in the TCA awards program and other industry award opportunities to receive press coverage about your projects. And, if you have done more of something than anyone else or have an interesting project to share, be sure to let others know.
The key to success when marketing and selling tilt-up is to be prepared. Do your homework before you get started and develop a comprehensive plan that outlines how you will attack your market.
—Ed Sauter is the executive director of the Tilt-Up Concrete Association, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.