The values of government construction projects can range from anywhere between a few thousand to billions in dollars. Anybody from small to large private enterprises can be eligible to bid. Especially for small businesses, winning government contracts potentially offers growth benefits, both financially and in reputation.
Government contractors are typically confronted with challenges in landing their first public project, which has to do with effectively marketing their business among procurement decision-makers. Marketing to state, local education (SLED) government agencies effectively begins with your market approach and the presentation of your construction service.
Suppose you own a small to medium construction firm. The first aspect you need to look at is if you have the right resources and can allocate these according to the project’s requirements.
Preparing for SLED Construction Projects
The Right Approach to the SLED Market
Tailor-fit your business plan, whether in part or in whole, toward acquiring at least the broad categories of what government projects typically require: administrative staff and labor manpower, the right-sized skid-steer loaders and other versatile construction equipment, networking with instrumental government agencies, a well-curated website, logistics, etc. SLED agencies are known to spend several million dollars annually. So investing in the right resources and building up business commitment early on will be rewarded as you land your first public project and beyond.
Familiarizing Yourself with Government Agencies’ Buying Cycle
Unlike their federal government counterparts, SLED agencies independently set their fiscal year schedules. A SLED agency’s buying cycle usually aligns with the applicable state’s fiscal year. It is critical to familiarize yourself with their fiscal year-round spending patterns so you can poise your business accordingly and bid at the right time. Note that, though it can often take time to collect from SLED agencies (sometimes reaching 30–45 days upon completion), they are a notably reliable clientele. Make sure you plan your budget allocations with this in mind.
Establish Your Value Proposition
What can your construction business have to offer? How well-equipped are you in addressing the agency’s needs? It will help to present a solid portfolio as you prepare to make a bid, whether from private or public sector projects, and how these past clients benefited from your service.
Identify Scale-Appropriate SLED Opportunities
Before you respond to a request for proposal (RFP), ensure that your business has the right capability to fulfill all project requirements. Suppose your construction business is short on scale to meet a government contract. In that case, it is possible to team up with other contractors or to take on a subcontracting role.
Effectively Marketing to Government Agencies
Innovators in any industry already have the lead among everyone else. Suppose your construction business can boast of innovative workflows, manpower management, or timeline efficiencies. You will be in a better position if you highlight these when marketing your company to your target markets. Networking with other players or industry associations and taking advantage of industry-focused editorial publications are good ways to reach the right decision-makers in the public sector.
Besides promoting awareness among critical deciders in the industry, your organization’s staff benefits from endorsing your team’s potential. Doing so authenticates their contributions to the team’s success, thus further motivating them to contribute even more.
Study Government Ethics
While calls-to-action (“attend our expo for the chance to win a gift” or something similar) are an effective marketing strategy in typical markets. However, note that government agencies are bound by a more stringent set of ethical expectations. These regulations restrict them from receiving gifts or any other form of gratuity. When marketing to government agencies, ensure that all call-to-action initiatives are aligned with what government personnel needs to adhere to.
Establish Your Online Presence
In these modern times, a business’s online presence is usually its first point of contact with all markets. Thus, you must have comprehensive service information available online and keep it current. Stand out with original content, including virtual tours, interactive interfaces, and responsive online managers. Your website might be a substantial investment, but having a well-maintained and convenient online storefront will definitely pay off.
SLED government agencies are potentially the most consistent sector to target if a business is committed to long-term growth and rewarding contracts. Suppose your construction business is on the cusp of targeting SLED government agencies. Understanding this specific market in terms of its buying cycles and ethics is essential. That way, you can effectively approach it with a solid business plan and present your value proposition in a way that will resonate with key decision-makers. Marketing your construction service to the public sector might mean adhering to unique marketing adjustments compared to marketing to traditional consumer markets.