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Why Relationships Are So Important in the Construction Industry

Alex Sanders
Why Relationships Are So Important in the Construction Industry

If you want to succeed in the construction industry, it's important to build and maintain strong relationships. This includes better relationships with your peers, your employees, your contractors and subcontractors, your vendors, and even the government.

How do you forge better relationships and why is this so valuable?

The Value of Construction Industry Relationships

Building better relationships in the construction industry is indispensable for:

  • Safety. Having better relationships with partners and authorities can give you access to more resources and insights that can help you develop safer policies. Having better relationships with your employees and subcontractors can firmly establish your culture of safety and reduce the likelihood of incidents.
  • Cost savings. There are many ways that better relationships can help you save money. You can negotiate more favorable contracts, you can reduce the complexity and scope of your projects, you can retain your best employees, and of course, you can reduce incident and insurance costs.
  • Reputation and sales. If you have better relationships with practically everyone you come in contact with, your organization is going to develop a much better reputation overall. That's going to lead to more referrals, and of course, more sales.
  • Operational fluidity. You'll have more flexibility in how you run your business if you have better relationships with all manner of people. For example, if a vendor is no longer available or doesn't have what you're looking for, you can have multiple backup vendors on standby. You won't suffer nearly as many delays or slowdowns in productivity.
  • Opportunities for development. You never know how your relationships are going to pay off. The people you forge bonds with could introduce you to new opportunities, new ideas for the business, and avenues for growth.

Levels of Relationships

While it’s common for people to describe themselves as having relationships with organizations or other abstract entities, the core of your relationships will form with individuals. You’ll meet and engage with these individuals across several different areas:

  • Clients and community. Serving your clients and community means doing the best possible work and minimizing harm.
  • Peers. Though your construction companies are technically your competition, they can also be a valuable source of insights and resource sharing.
  • Industry. Home Builders Associations, Associated Contractors, trade groups, and similar organizations can teach you much and help you access the resources you need.
  • Suppliers and vendors. Better vendor and supplier relationships can help you reduce costs and have more options for procuring materials.
  • Employees. Healthy relationships with your employees and subcontractors lead to higher retention, higher productivity, and a better overall dynamic.
  • Government. OSHA and other governmental entities dictate rules and regulations to which your business must conform. But navigating this terrain is much easier when you have good relationships with people within these organizations.

Each of these “levels” has different requirements and expectations for healthy relationships, but it’s important to remember that each individual is unique, as well.

How to Build Stronger Relationships

What steps can your construction company take to build stronger relationships with all these entities and individuals?

  • Network. Networking is valuable in every industry, but it's especially important in the construction industry. Attend industry conferences, meet with competitors, and generally work to expand your network consistently.
  • Recognize priorities. Understand that each individual has different priorities and recognize those priorities. Do whatever you can to help other people achieve their goals.
  • Pursue mutual benefits. Look for opportunities for mutual benefit. What's something you can do to improve your business while simultaneously helping another member of your network? For example, you may be interested in negotiating for a lower price from your vendors, but what can you offer them in exchange? Can you pledge to buy a higher volume or offer your services in return?
  • Practice polite conflict resolution. Conflicts are natural and somewhat unavoidable. But managing effective and polite conflict resolution can prevent these conflicts from damaging your relationship dynamics.
  • Think long term. Always think long term when it comes to managing your relationships. Don't be afraid to take some short-term losses and withstand some temporary discomfort if it means having more people in your corner in the long run.
  • Follow up. Make it a point to follow up with both new and existing connections. Schedule time to meet with people in the industry that you know, even if it's only to catch up for a few minutes. It's important to remain top of mind. This also extends to your customers; follow up to ensure their satisfaction (and potentially request referrals).

Having better relationships in the construction industry, from positive associations with OSHA to camaraderie between your employees, can lead to higher productivity, lower costs, and far fewer issues overall. It’s its own kind of investment – and one you shouldn’t neglect.

Alex Sanders
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