As you well know, contractors no longer merely dropwire into a facility and call it a day. They have become the primary provider of all things related to electricity, power, communications, security and countless other systems-related work.

Because of this, one predominate misconception is that contractors only thrive in the plan/spec/bid world. That is not true. Those who have embraced design/build’s methodology have found success.

The initial hurdle with design/build is selling the concept. Many end-users are stuck in the rut of putting projects out to bid to ensure that they receive the best possible price. At the heart of design/build is the premise that price should not be used as the primary gauge. Contractors know that being the best does not always mean being the cheapest.

In fact, anyone can rack up a large number of low-bid award contracts, but just because a firm has completed numerous contracts does not mean it is the best one out there. This idea is where the benefits associated with design/build come into play and why seasoned contractors seem to be a natural fit.

Get ready

First, take a look at your message and marketing materials. This should be done in an unbiased manner, keeping the message of design/build in mind.

Once you determine that new materials will be created or old ones updated, make sure the design/build message permeates throughout. Some of the marketing materials should be centered around educating recipients about the basics and benefits of design/build.

From that point, it is important to relate one’s own company to design/build. You may need to step outside of your comfort zone and start promoting your company as doing more than what is typically expected from a contractor. Most contractors have found a place in a world that couples installation experience with design, consulting, integration and engineering—all of which help create a design/build-capable firm.

Get motivated

Aligning one’s company with other specialty contractors that are engaged and interested in design/build is one way to become more recognizable as a design/build firm.

Another wise move is to become involved in the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA). Joining the national association, coupled with involvement at the local level, is a key step. The organization offers many opportunities to become better educated and knowledgeable about design/build. As with any association membership, participation beyond writing annual dues checks is essential.

The other thing that will help you esta blish your company as a design/build firm is that you must change not only in the perceptions of your customers, but your employees, as well. Too many marketing concepts fail when those within the company are not aware of or on board with the concept. This is especially true in contracting firms where the bulk of employees have been groomed for the low-bid world.

Design/build challenges the low-bid mentality in various ways and letting employees know why design/build works or fails is an important first step.

Get contracts

Obviously, the fastest way into this world is getting involved in design/build contracts. Each completed project cements your status, marketing wise, as a design/build-capable firm. Since design/build is still a somewhat new form of the contract vehicle delivery method, those looking to go that route will ultimately turn to whom they deem to be the experts.

In the end, marketing your company as a design/build firm should just be an extension of your current marketing plan. A transition to design/build as a portion or an extension of the primary suite of products and services already being offered is smart from a business perspective, and marketing the business as such should make sense. EC

STONG-MICHAS, a freelance writer, lives in central Pennsylvania. She can be reached at JenLeahS@msn.com.