Differentiation: Beyond the Numbersruss edwards
True differentiation in the construction business is difficult. In a world where decisions and awards too often come down to the lowest bidder, decision-makers rarely look past the numbers. Those of us working in the construction industry know all too well that true success, customer satisfaction, and even profitability depend on more than just numbers. Of course, this problem is not limited to commercial construction.
All of us have heard (and many of us have lived) horror stories about contractors cutting corners, not finishing a project, or not living up to their commitments. Unfortunately, our industry is known for this type of behavior, from small residential construction to complex commercial or industrial projects.
Scott Peper explains how this low-bid mindset throughout the construction industry creates a far-reaching impact in his recent article, “The High Cost of Low Bids: When Contractors Compete On Price, Everyone Loses”. Contractors are often convinced they have to be the lowest bidder to win a job. Internal cash flow requirements and the drive to keep labor crews and field personnel busy, often cause companies to bid on jobs with very little room for profit.
Life in the Construction Business
At Gregory Construction, we recognize that there are many variables outside of our control. That’s life in the construction business. How we set priorities and how we conduct ourselves in every situation (no matter how challenging) is very much within our control.
Several years ago, we identified the core values of Safety, Integrity, Excellence, and Communication as the pillars to center our business and operations on. These core values are our daily guideposts, and we take them very seriously. We explain them as expectations to all our new hires, discuss them at all company-wide meetings, and have them prominently listed in materials and signage at our corporate office and in the field.
At every year-end Strategy Meeting, our leadership team spends time going around the table and sharing stories about where they witnessed each core value clearly on display during the year. If these are really core values, we should be able to prove them. Core values must be seen and be obvious, or they probably are not really core values.
Does investing in and taking our core values seriously help us win more jobs that are driven by the lowest bidder? No. But core values are not about realizing short-term gains. They are about realizing your identity.
Theodore Roosevelt said:
“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing.”
One thing is for sure in the construction industry, there are many moments of decision.
Building Lasting Partnerships
Interestingly, one very important place where we do see our core values make a direct positive impact on our business is in forming great partnerships with like-minded companies. We love working to support Owners or Contractors on larger jobs, such as Data Centers or other Mission Critical construction.
It’s here, in the midst of these complex, critically important projects, that Gregory Construction’s core values are on full display. We get excited when a partner notices how working with our organization is a different experience, one that makes them want to work with us more. We take great pride when these partners continue to bid on large projects with Gregory Construction in mind to perform the work that we do best.
This article started by exploring the challenge of competitive differentiation in the construction industry. At Gregory Construction, we know that our core values can make us stand out, but that is not the reason we prioritize them.
Our organizational culture and core values are driven by a simple purpose: to honor God in how we operate our business. This is how our company started, and it remains our purpose today. While this approach may not always appear to be best for the immediate bottom line, we firmly believe it benefits our customers, partners, employees, communities, and Gregory Construction.