Skilled trade businesses start their businesses servicing a defined niche set of customers, which through word of mouth advertising, the business scales. Over time, the business continues to scale and you hire more employees to take on the additional workload.
At some point, if you want to scale your business even further, you will need to create a business development plan that can help you reach beyond word of mouth advertising. It’s especially important if you plan to hire additional sales people that you need to carry out your plan.
Rather than list the definitions of the various parts and pieces of a business plan, I’m going to use an example that integrators can relate to which is the COI Program that CEDIA offers. The COI program, which stands for CEDIA Outreach Instructor, is a member benefit that is often underutilized. The program allows integrators to get certified to deliver CEU courses to the design-build community in their local market. The goal is to educate adjacent trades about technology however these “lunch and learn” events often lead to partnerships on projects and can be a great way to grow your business. In order to be successful with these events, you need to have a plan in place in order to execute them.
What is a business development plan?
It’s what describes what the objective is and how you intend to achieve it. Business Development plans give an organization guidance, purpose and focus for a specific goal.
Define Your Goal
In order to build the plan, you have to have a clearly defined goal and objective.
COI Program Goal: To educate our local design-build community on the benefits of technology for the home in order to build partnerships that lead to new business opportunities.
Define Your Target
Instead of sending your team on a cold calling mission to start contacting local design-build professionals, to offer this new great service, you should define who you want to target in order to be more strategic.
Your products and services meet the needs of a specific customer, you should define your target around who your clientele is and then filter it even further. You want your team to get some early wins in order to keep up the momentum so by defining your target and then filtering it further, you are giving them lots of options that are highly refined which means they have a higher chance of being successful.
Target: Design-Build professionals that are focused on projects that are $1m and higher within a 1 hour radius of our office.
Now that you have your target narrowed down, let’s filter it even further.
Refined Target: Within the scope of the target above, let’s get more granular
- Design-build firms
*Determine up front if you want to target past clients or target new ones during your outreach. Presenting a CEU course to someone you have an existing relationship with allows you to provide more value to the current partnership.
Strategy and Implementation
This section is going to outline what tools you need to hit the goal and how you are going to implement this new plan into your business. You should also use this section to assign who is responsible for specific items.
- Food for lunch and learn or brunch and learn events
- Printed materials like handouts and certificates
- Memberships (see below)
- 2 to 3 minute elevator pitch on why a design-build professional should allow us to come teach a CEU course for them and how we can work together on projects.
- Membership: Join ASID and AIA in order to gain access to networking events and contact lists
- Giveaways from manufacturers
- Connect with targets on LinkedIn
- Create a monthly newsletter for the design-build community highlighting projects that solve problems.
- Goal: 2 events per month per person
- 10 calls a week to design-build professionals to discuss CEU Lunch and learn events
- Should we start with Architects and Designers or target everyone at once?
Conducting an event
- Register the event with CEDIA two weeks in advance
- Make sure to have space and equipment for doing a presentation
- Research the client up front to better understand their typical project
- Discuss a plan on how the design-build professional can engage with your firm on projects
- Create a sign up sheet to capture contact information
- Take pictures of the event for post marketing activities.
- Send out registration and evaluation links the next day
- Create certificates and follow up in person with a delicious treat a few days after the event
- Compile the sign up sheet into a master list design-build contacts for marketing purposes
- Connect with attendees on LinkedIn post event
*Consider creating a process for who registers the event, orders lunch, conducts the event and manages the post event follow up.
Are we hitting the goal? – Every month you should meet with your team to find out what’s working and what’s not. In the strategy and implementation section, we set a clear and distinct goal of 2 events per month per person so we have something to measure results with. In the monthly review, you can find out if the goal is too high or too low. Maybe your team needs to narrow the focus on who they are targeting?
Do they have the right tools? – Does the team need more tools to reach the goal? What obstacles or challenges are they encountering that we didn’t anticipate?
Recalibrate – Once you find out what’s working and what’s not, it’s time to readjust and revisit next month. Over time you will get the plan fine tuned and the actions required to hit the goal will become habits.