The Building Industry Lag

What is it? Why is it? And how to fix it.

“We don’t do a whole lot on Facebook or social around here—to be honest, we’re a little behind.” 

“Yeah, we know the website is a little out of date, but we’ve got a new office manager and she’s looking at it.” 

“Sure our logo is a little dated—we’re just busy with other things.” 

Consultants and marketers hear these things from time to time when meeting with prospects. While not terribly common, these challenges are the main reason our industry exists—to help clients overcome them. BUT . . . the frequency of these challenges, these problems, is higher in the building industry than in any other—and it’s not even close. 

While builders are quick to utilize technology and modern practices in their day-to-day work (building things!), there seems to be a significant lag when it comes to sales, marketing, and business development practices. 

And while it may not seem like a big deal—especially because it’s not uncommon in the industry—it is costing businesses millions of dollars in lost sales that they will never know they lost out on. In fact, that key decision maker (the one awarding the bids) who checked out your outdated website isn’t going to call to tell you the site turned him off. 

The purchasing director who was going to use your supplies will never email and say, “Hey, your sales rep hasn’t really built a relationship here—I’m going to go with someone who has.” 

And that’s the lag: not investing appropriately in sales and marketing, not staying current with customer expectations, and not making it a priority. 

So why does this happen, and why is it especially prevalent in the building industry?

Three main reasons: 

Bid work: It keeps you busy! AND you probably feel like sales and marketing aren’t very relevant since you’re submitting a standard form to someone on a list.   

Customer segregation: More than most industries, builders and building supply companies are rarely selling directly to consumers. As such, they don’t feel like the same expectations a consumer would have (modern appealing professional website, great relationship management and customer service, a personal touch) apply to their B2B interactions.  

Competing on price: A lot of builders and building supply companies compete on price—on value alone. So they focus on keeping costs down so they can continue to try and be the cheaper guy.   

At Burgard, we’ve consistently seen clients use the following simple changes to hit and exceed growth goals they’ve failed to achieve for years. 

Invest in relationships: Whether the bid list is carrying your business or not. Whether you’ve had luck going this route in the past or not. Whether you enjoy business development or not (hire someone). Strong relationships grow businesses. 

Invest in thoughtful marketing materials: This means a clean and simple site that carefully considers its sales process—and how the website functions as a part of it—as a means to an end. For some, that involves five pages and rare updates. For others, this might be 50 pages and custom programming. It just depends. What matters is that these marketing tools align with your values and speak to your ideal clients. THEY ARE SALES TOOLS! 

Consider competing on more than price: Everyone is happy when they save money. It’s also the norm for prospects to factor upfront price into buying decisions. BUT, if price is your only area of competition you’ll always be racing to the bottom. Consider quality, expertise, values, customer service, timeliness, and knowledge. It’s likely you’ll want to compete based on these qualities too! 


Did you learn something new, or perhaps you have a question? We’d love to hear from you!

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