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Referral Marketing: 5 reasons why people refer

Referral marketing works because as humans we’re wired to belong to something greater than ourselves. By validating things that make us feel good and sharing pleasurable experiences, our drive to support others is strong.
That’s why so many businesses do well just by using this business-building strategy alone.

1: We prefer to connect with others

If we want a doctor, a dentist or a good hairdresser we usually ask someone who they go to. It’s the social glue that keeps communities together and businesses active once they tap into this.
If you’re asked for directions, shortcuts or tips you’re probably quick to help. Making referrals is another way of helping others and connecting. Social networking sites have become popular as more people want to share their ‘finds’.

2: Business referrals can be risky

This involves trust – and you must have loads of it to refer a business to a friend or colleague. One slip and it’s not only your reputation, but that of the person referring. That’s why quality and service of a business is a ‘given’ before someone will refer you.

3: Referrals come from businesses we rave about

Seth Godin (a well-respected marketer and author) once said, “If the marketplace isn’t talking about you, there’s a reason – you’re probably boring.” Boring is safe – but it’s not what gets people interested in you or your products or services. So find or develop something about your business that customers will rave about.

4: Referral Marketing needs a system

Embrace the value of what you do, develop a system around it and let your customers know about it at every opportunity. Putting a referral marketing system on auto-pilot takes the heat off you feeling you’re ‘begging’ for work. Use this one strategy and you’ll reap rewards.

5: Authenticity builds trust

Reliability, consistency and repetition are the foundation tools of referral marketing. People know when you’re not being genuine – it doesn’t feel right. Being consistent and reliable demonstrates your authenticity.

The module Blueprint CPD module Referral Marketing counts towards your CPD points requirement for your builders license.

 

 

Time and Cost Management – A 6 Point Checklist

A key to have projects run smoothly and addressing client’s expectations is good time and cost management. Here are six project time management steps for you to consider.

 

Define Activities - What actions need to be performed to deliver the project? By setting all of these steps out in a Work Breakdown Structure you’ll be able to identify all the different work packages and list the activities needed within each of these.  

 

Sequence Activities -  This is all about identifying and documenting the relationships among the project activities and logical sequencing. Starting some activities may depend on whether or not information by stakeholders has been initiated or completed, this might mean lag or lead time may need to be factored in.

 

Estimate Activity Resources – The planning of the materials handling, people, equipment or the supplies needed for each activity, factoring in costs/budgets. 

 

Estimate Activity Durations – The deliberation of how long each activity will take to complete, factoring in the estimated resources. This estimate will use information from the scopes of work as well as resource types and quantities. The result will often come from a combination of expert judgement and information from similar projects.  

 

Planning Schedule - The gathering of information turned into a project schedule using a scheduling tool, possibly a specialist computer software. The result is a schedule with planned dates for completing each activity, often illustrated in a graph or chart.

 

Control Schedule - This is all about monitoring and reporting during the course of the project so that any changes can be managed.

 

The module Blueprint CPD module Time and Cost Management counts towards your CPD points requirement for your builders license.

Tender Submissions & Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

A good WBS encompasses requirements leading to hand over of a project and can be used as the basis for detailed costing and scheduling. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to creating a WBS site specific projects. However, there are eight general means of divisions that can be used, depending upon the needs of your project.

1. Trade or Sub-Contractor (Labour)- splitting the project up into the various trades required for the project, e.g. excavator, plumber, concreter, carpenter.

2. Building Element (Stages) - breakdown the project based upon the main components as milestones of the structures, e.g., sub-structure, transfer slab, frame, internal lining etc.

3. Location on site - breakdown the project according to milestones in-situ, e.g., basement, ground floor, roof.

4. Material Types – The breakdown of the project in relation to the materials to be used categorised by the construction stages, e.g. footings, ground floor stairs, level one slab.

5. Sequence of Activities (Recognise Dependencies) – This highlights tasks that need to be completed before the next stage of construction can commence, e.g., excavation, footings, sub-floor floor works.

6. Organisational Structure - this involves the breaking down of key stakeholders involved in the project, e.g. client, local council, design consultants.

7. Contractor’s Responsibilities – The breakdown of key project deliverables into the work packages contractors are responsible for completing. 

8. Cost Planning - total costing can first be itemized for different types of costs, such as materials and wages. Further breakdowns can then outline different estimates for each cost in more detail, such as information on payment dates, etc.

The module Blueprint CPD module Tender Submissions & Work Breakdown Structure counts towards your CPD points requirement for your builders license.

Programming Your Project - At A Glance

Scheduling tasks and resources for the smooth running of a project, can be an arduous job even on the smallest of sites. Having a program detailing basic timelines is an excellent tool to have at your disposal. One simple benefit is to flag milestones as a reminder for statutory inspections. Below are some points for consideration.

 

Preparing a Project Program

Setting out a program with all the major trades in a simple table format from the outset can give clarity and also assist in the scheduling of the construction. A simple and effective model for preparing a program is to breakdown the project into a handful of key tasks with the following considerations;

 

to establish the project’s objectives

to plan the project

to organise and schedule the team

to monitor and adjust.

 

Create A Checklist

The major benefits of planning and scheduling is that it allows time in advance to deal with procurement of trades, suppliers and to address potential challenges before they arise. Having a simple checklist also promotes better communication between all parties. Listing activities for each category of work that can be ticked off as tasks are completed is a simple tool and gather a lot of information quickly.

 

Checklists will Demonstrate:

 When to prepare for the following trades and activities.

 When to schedule and co-ordinate tradespeople and link activities.

 When to identify and schedule required tasks, well in advance.

 When to order and schedule deliveries.

 What needs to be completed, before another activity can commence.

 How to co-ordinate trades when working together.

 

The module Blueprint CPD module Programming Your Project counts towards your CPD points requirement for your builders license.

Meeting Management: 6 Questions for Consideration

At times meetings can be a significant waste of resources. However, if prepared for properly they can be a brilliant tool for sharing important information for the progress of the project. A great meeting is one that engaging for the participants and has an efficient process for the exchange of ideas 

Here are six questions to think about when you’re planning a meeting.

Should I Hold an Informal Meeting?

Informal meetings are common for the building industry. They usually include an impromptu conversation or chat on site and are a good way to address pressing issues so as to avoid a potentially stressful. They typically require little or no preparation.

Would a Formal Meeting be More Appropriate?

Formal meetings can include client, subcontractor, status reports, design etc. Often these types of meetings address issues of legal accountability, formal agreement on actions to be carried out and can save time if used efficiently, they usually need documentation.

What is the Meeting Cycle?

This starts with designing the meeting, which involves preparing agendas and minutes, nominating a chair, defining rules of behaviour and setting the time, place and duration. Next stage is to conduct the meeting, including reviewing the agenda, discussing items, identifying follow-up activities, and possibly drafting an agenda for the next meeting. The third stage involves carrying out all the activities committed to during the meeting, followed finally by collecting information to design the next meeting.

What is the Typical Format of a Meeting?

Meetings should generally be conducted in a structured order starting with a review of the agenda. The agenda should contain details of all topic presenters, the meeting purpose, items to be discussed and the actions required, such as decisions and announcements. The items are then opened up for discussion and any follow-up activities identified. After the meeting is evaluated a draft agenda for the next meeting may be created.

What are the Main Roles?

There are two main roles; the chair, or facilitator, and the minute taker. The chair formally guides the meeting through the agenda and controls the meeting. They should keep discussions flowing, prevent domination, encourage involvement and ensure results are achieved. The minute taker produces the official record of the meeting.

What if a Meeting is Geographically Impossible?

A telephone or video conference might be the only feasible option. These types of conferences can be hard to line up, particularly when big time differences are involved, but they can work when guidelines are set in place.

 

The module Meeting Management counts towards your CPD points requirement for your builders license.

Environmental Management and Planning 12-Point Checklist

Keep abreast of environmental laws, serious penalties can be given, even if the damage or pollution caused was by complete accident. One can be prepared by being aware of potential risks and having processes in place so as to identify and alleviate potential problems to the public and the environment. 

Developing an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) that both complies with legislation and details measures taken on your worksite to identify, prevent or minimise environmental damage is the first step in addressing regulatory requirements. 

To follow are the 12 points or a checklist for when preparing a site specific environmental management plan.  

Describe the Document

Identify the name of the document, including the name of the site, and also identify the author, document version number and organisations responsible for implementing the EMP.

 

Outline the Project/Process/Site

Define or describe the scope of the site and its operational processes, the relationship of the site to nearby features or landmarks like bushland etc. Include plans and diagrams.

 

Make a Statement of Commitment

Identify the environmental objectives and outcomes from the application of the EMP and how they relate to the broader environment goals and objectives of the organisation. 

 

Define the Management Context

Management are involved in formulating, documenting, nominating site personnel and their responsibility and the overall implementation of the EMP. This also includes the communication and induction of the EMP with all individuals on the site. 

 

Identify Statutory Compliance Requirements

Define the scope of regulatory, statutory, development consent conditions or operational licence conditions that relate to the scope of the EMP, the project or process. Include copies of any consent or licence requirements.

 

Identify and Rank Environmental Issues

A Risk Assessment process should be undertaken for relevant environmental issues associated with the building site. These can include noise, dust, erosion, waste and chemicals. There may also be flora, fauna and heritage aspects of the site to be protected or managed. 

 

Document How Issues are to be Addressed

Identify what procedures and works are needed to effectively manage any impact on the environment which is outlined within the EMP objectives. This could include step by step detail on what will be done, who will do it and when. 

 

Prepare Emergency Response Plan (EPR)

An EPR is a procedure detailing the actions to be taken and who will respond to any environmental incidents and/or emergencies related to the implementation of the EMP.

 

Assign Responsibility

Detail who is responsible for implementing and monitoring the effectiveness of the plan.

 

Provide Appropriate Training

Everyone on site should be made familiar with the EMP, with their roles and responsibilities detailed. This can be done by means of an induction or training plan to explain the EMP.

 

Prepare monitoring and Reporting Plan

Explain how the actions listed in the EMP will be monitored. This could be set out in a schedule that lists what will be monitored, by whom and how often, with a requirement for an appropriate sign-off person to confirm this has been carried out.

 

Have the EMP Endorsed for Use

The EMP can be reviewed by an appropriate manager, dated and signed-off as authorised for use. This could include sign-off from the developer, builder, relevant consultants and subcontractors to make sure the EMP is adopted by all parties.

 

The module Environmental Management and Planning counts towards your CPD points requirement for your builders license.

Site Establishment and Environmental Obligations: three areas to consider

Environmental issues have become big news in the past decade and the implications for the construction industry are significant.

Tougher laws and more serious penalties have been introduced in a bid to discourage behaviour that might negatively impact the environment.

Being aware of these laws and rules will not only help protect the environment, it will also save your hip pocket by avoiding hefty penalties. It pays to be familiar with the primary piece of legislation responsible for environmental issues: The Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (NSW) (POEO).

Here are the three main environmental issues you need to consider when carrying out a construction project: 

 

1. Noise

There is a common misconception that noise creation isn’t a big issue. Try telling that to businesses who have been slapped with multi-million dollar fines, or even had equipment seized for breaking noise laws.

There are tough restrictions on noisy equipment, with Regulation 50 of the POEO Act limiting the use of power tools to between 7am and after 8pm, and 8am and 8pm on Sundays and Pubic Holidays.

Breaching this rule will firstly result in a warning, but further breaches can lead to fines up to $11,000 for a corporation, or $5,500 for individuals. 

There are alternative ways of dealing with noise that can be even more costly, possibly resulting in fines up to $5 million, the seizure of equipment, or even jail for willful and negligent behaviour.

 

2. Land Pollution and waste

Disposing of waste is routine in the construction industry, but when it comes to cleaning up there is no place for complacency or corner-cutting. Using the proper channels for disposing of waste is not only a responsible way of doing business, it could prevent you copping enormous fines. Transporting and dumping waste at a public place is an offense under section 143 of the POEO Act. If caught, both the owner of the waste and the person transporting it are liable and can be slapped with fines up to $250,000 for an individual or $1,000,000 for a corporation.

 

3. Littering

Littering is not only annoying and unsightly, it can also have a big impact on the environment, nearby residents and even animals.  Those caught littering in or on a public place are dealt with under section 145 of the POEO Act, regardless of whether the actions affect land or water. The offense becomes aggravated if the littering causes harm to people, animals, property, or was reasonably likely to cause harm. An individual caught littering can be slapped with a $330 fine, while for a corporation the penalty jumps to $550.

 

The module Blueprint CPD module Site Establishment and Environmental Obligations counts towards your CPD points requirement for your builders licence.

Quality and Scope Management - a snapshot of quality management.

Maintaining a consistent standard of quality in the construction industry is no accident - this is where quality management comes in. 

It’s not only about making sure your product or service is consistent, but also how you go about achieving this.

There are four main elements to quality management: quality planning, quality control, quality assurance and quality improvement.

In the construction industry, implementing these principles is designed to help you consistently achieve the outcomes clients expect, focus on a customer service approach, and continually strive for improvement. 

They also help provide consistent guidelines for builders in providing and implementing the elements of quality management, and in monitoring their implementation.

So, what are some of the elements of quality management you’re likely to come across in the construction industry? 

A Quality Management System (QMS)

A Quality Management System gives you a structure, including documentation, policies, procedures, processes and resources to help you control and manage work so that quality requirements can be met consistently. 

Establishing and implementing a QMS involves a number of important actions.

Some of these include; setting objectives, identifying products and services not conforming to standards, identifying resources and allocating responsibilities, implementing the plans and procedures, monitoring the implementation, and reviewing the QMS.

A Quality Management Plan (QMP)

This is a plan specific to the project or contract and developed by the builder by applying a QMS. The document sets out specific practices, resources and sequences of activities relevant to the project or contract. 

As part of the QMP, a plan covering quality management of design activities would also be prepared, implemented and updated by the builder for each phase or stage of the design. 

Inspection and Test Plan (ITP)

This document sets out all inspection and testing requirements relevant to a specific process. An ITP identifies the items of materials and work to be inspected or tested, by whom and at what stage or frequency, as well as references to relevant standards. When properly implemented an ITP verifies that work has been undertaken to the required standard.

ISO 9001

This is an internationally recognised standard for quality management systems. The latest version, ISO 9001:2008, has been developed with eight quality management principles at its core, these include: customer focus, leadership, involvement of people, process approach, system approach to management, continual improvement, factual approach to decision making and mutually beneficial supplier relationships.

Audits

One of the essential features of a quality management system is the assurance it gives the customer that appropriate quality management is being implemented. This is where audits and reviews come in. An audit plan would be included in a QMP to cover the arrangements and requirements for a project/contract. Audits can be carried out internally, externally or by a third party.

 

The module Quality and Scope Management counts towards your CPD points requirement for your builders licence. To find out more, contact CPD Blueprint now.

Site Investigation and Soil Classification-factors to consider.

There is no place for guesswork when it comes to figuring out exactly what lies on or below a site. These features can have a big impact on a future development, potentially even bringing the project to a halt. 

A site classification will assess whether there are any geotechnical features that could have ramifications for development, or whether any contaminants are present on the site. 

Here are some questions to consider when investigating a site:

 

Do I need a Geotechnical Report? 

This is where a geotechnical engineer comes in. They are specialist consultants brought in to assess a site’s geotechnical features, including subsurface soil, rock and water conditions. The resulting geotechnical report is a vital tool for the structural engineer, architect and construction team, and absolutely necessary to ensure the project is safe and cost-effective. 

 

What information will a Geographical Report contain?

The basic essential information found in a report includes a summary of all subsurface exploration data. It will also contain analysis of the data, discussion of conditions for solution of anticipated problems, and any engineering recommendations.

For large projects or when complex geotechnical problems are expected it is common to carry out a “preliminary” geotechnical report. This may contain information necessary to establish basic concepts or design criteria early in the project. A “final” report is normally available at a later stage when the design has progressed.

 

Is Site Contamination an issue? 

Site contamination is the presence of man-made chemicals or other alterations to the natural soil environment. Contamination can often be the result of ruptured underground storage tanks, past pesticide use, wastes leaching from landfill or direct discharge of industrial waste to the soil. Soil contamination occurs when hazardous substances are either spilled or buried directly in the soil or migrate from spills that occurred elsewhere.

 

Will Site Contamination halt development?

It may still be possible to develop a contaminated site if certain steps are taken to make sure there won’t be any risk to human health or the surrounding environment. In this case a Remedial Action Plan will set out those steps and, once they are completed, an environmental engineer can issue a Site Clearance Certificate or Validation Certificate.

 

Why are Acid Sulphate Soils a concern?

Acid Sulphate Soils (ASS) are most commonly found in NSW along the coast and must be managed appropriately to avoid major environmental damage. ASS are those naturally occurring sediments and soils that contain sulphides, mainly iron sulphide and iron disulphide or their precursors. Exposure of these sulphides in the soil to oxygen – often as a result of drainage or excavation – can produce sulphuric acid, which may have a significant impact on the environment. Leaching of sulphuric acid into waterways can cause serious water quality problems, resulting in fish kills and damage to infrastructure, such as floodgates and bridges.  Understanding how to handle and dispose of both potential ASS (not yet oxidised) and actual ASS (already oxidised) is critical.

 

The module Site Investigation and Soil Classification counts towards your CPD points requirement for your builders licence.

Understanding your Business - 10 Point Checklist

Whether you’ve been in business for decades, or just getting started, knowing where you stand now and where you want to be in the future can help set you on the path towards your goals. It’s a simple process but one so often overlooked, and the benefits are well worth the time. Coming up with a list of core business objectives will help you identify your speciality and target market. It’s all about recognising your personal and professional ambitions and making decisions that will steer you towards those goals. 

Here are some of the steps you can take towards better understanding your business:

1. Establish your goals 

What do you want to achieve? What will your business look like in the future? What areas of growth would you like to achieve?

By answering these question you’ll be able to make more productive and efficient decisions, be more focused on your goals and create job satisfaction for you and your employees. 

2. Ask, could we do more?

Some businesses may be running at an under-utilised capacity. By reevaluating your offering and coming up with a new strategy, it may be possible to generate new orders or inquiries. First though, be sure you have the capacity to handle a larger number of inquiries and possibly additional business. 

3. Establish your margins

Many businesses get caught in the old follow-the-leader trap, keeping margins low by buying into what other industry players are charging. But there is plenty of evidence to suggest charging cheaper prices to buy market share just isn’t sustainable.

Clients generally do look out for a better deal, but in the end they’ll go with the business they feel understands their needs. If they feel they can communicate with you and trust you will take care of their investment, there’s a good chance you’ll stand out from the crowd.

4. Know where your business is coming from

Who are my clients and how do they find me?

Document where the current business is coming from because what you can measure, you can manage. It will also help you figure out whether your current strategy will sustain the business and identify possible areas of growth.

5. Think about your unique offering

What is your selling point? What do you do for your clients that other businesses don’t?

By figuring out what is different about your business and providing a compelling offer in your marketing material and proposals, you can encourage people to take action or get in touch as a qualified lead.

6. Measure your conversion rate and cost per sale

Can I convert more queries into contracts? If you can increase conversions from 1 in 5 to 1 in 4, that’s an equivalent increase of 20 per cent in sales. It’s also good practice to take some time to establish how much it costs you to prepare a tender - what we do not measure on a regular basis we will not focus on.

7. Focus on ‘client for life’ relationships

Have you ever had such great customer service that you told everyone who would listen about your experience? Or became a loyal client because you were treated well?

Understanding and delivering what the client needs using clear and open lines of communication is at the crux of great customer service and a surefire way to keep customers coming back. 

8. Offer more services

Could we generate growth by offering additional and relevant services to our clients?

One example would be a builder also offering landscape maintenance. That doesn’t mean you have to carry out the work yourself, you could instead utilise a formal arrangement with a trusted third party contractor or service provider that complements but does not compete with your business.

9.Listen to your clients

A valuable way of measuring how your business or service is performing when it comes to client satisfaction is through a feedback survey. These can be formal questionnaires, or even an informal phone call, which can give a good indication of your client’s thoughts at various stages of a project and can provide valuable information you can use to address any potential issues.

10. Communication is key

Being upfront with clients and maintaining open lines of communication throughout the course of a project will go a long way towards creating a mutually respectful relationship. From the outset, being clear on a risk reversal policy will help lower or eliminate any concerns they might have. A building contract is one of the biggest financial transactions most people will ever undertake, so it is important to consider introducing a service or procedure that would possibly alleviate a client’s concerns prior to signing an agreement.

The module Understanding Your Business counts towards your CPD points requirement for your builders licence.

 

 

 

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