Menu

This is part two of a seven-part series of blog entries about the benefits of specifying and building with manufacturer-tested and warrantied wall systems compared to specifying individual components. Benefits include a much faster design and specification process, proven component compatibility, faster component installation and better performance, plus the peace of mind that comes from knowing all components are proven compatible and will perform as specified. Part two includes an introduction to moisture management, including the definition and functions of water resistive barriers and air barriers. Part three will continue the discussion of water resistive barriers with a look at vapor barriers.

Moisture management
Moisture management means not only getting water out of the wall, but also allowing air into the wall so it can dry quickly and completely. Since water infiltration poses a significant danger to walls, it is wise to take a redundant approach to moisture management. Redundancy means there are multiple planes of defense against moisture intrusion.

These multiple planes include first the watershed at the face of the cladding or veneer. Behind that is an air space encouraging water to drain out of the wall, breaking the directly connecting path for water to enter the wall. The third redundancy is the use of a highly water-resistant, continuous insulation layer such as extruded polystyrene (XPS), which will shed rather than absorb any water that makes it to the board’s face. (Another insulation option would be polyisocyanurate [polyiso]. Expanded polystyrene [EPS], sprayed polyurethane foam [SPF], and mineral wool could also be used as continuous insulation, but they are not as water-resistant as XPS.) The final line of defense is the water-resistive barrier itself, often installed behind the continuous insulation and over the exterior-grade gypsum sheathing. All the redundant layers are a natural part of masonry veneer construction.

Water-resistive barrier
Air- and water-resistive barriers are often a single product, the same layer in the wall which resists bulk water penetration and wind-driven rain penetrating the exterior cladding. This contrasts with vapor, which either enters the wall system by permeation or is carried into it by air leakage. In a complete wall system, depending on the regional design considerations, the functions of the air barrier, vapor barrier, and WRB are sometimes combined in one product—frequently, a liquid product that is roller- or spray-applied. Greater efficiencies can be achieved if only one trade is involved in applying the all-in-one type of product instead of multiple trades applying each of the air-, vapor-, and water-resistive barriers.

Air barriers
Air barriers have a strong influence on energy efficiency. It is estimated air leakage is responsible for about six percent of total energy used by commercial buildings in the U.S. About 15 percent of primary energy consumption in commercial buildings attributable to fenestration and building envelope components in 2010 was due to air leakage. (For more, visit www.airbarrier.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Buildings-XIII_OnlineAirtightnessCalculator_V5.pdf[3].) Air barriers are often also weather-protective and water-resistant. They allow the building envelope to prevent accumulation of water in the building and establish a drainage plane inside the wall.

Be sure to come back to part three of this blog to learn about vapor barriers.

This is part one of a seven-part series of blog entries about the benefits of specifying and building with manufacturer-tested and warrantied wall systems compared to specifying individual components. Benefits include a much faster design and specification process, proven component compatibility, faster component installation and better performance, plus the peace of mind that comes from knowing all components are proven compatible and will perform as specified. Part one describes the components of a masonry veneer wall system and the tests a wall system must pass to provide optimal performance.

A masonry cavity wall system must successfully perform multiple functions throughout the life of the building. A proper wall is expected to manage moisture, air, and heat, contain fire, and hold up the structure itself. For a wall to perform all these functions, specifications should include all the products necessary for the components to work together.

For the contractor, building a masonry cavity wall is just as challenging as specifying it is for the architect. Contractors rely on the architect for highly precise drawings and specifications so they can produce an accurate bid. They want to be able to build with familiar, proven methods and materials that are compatible and readily available through distribution.

For these reasons, specifying a complete wall system with all the components tested and warrantied together can offer many advantages to the design professional, such as helping support risk management. The design professional’s ability to thrive depends on his or her ability to provide timely documentation for the building’s performance.

Components of a masonry veneer wall system
The structural components forming the basis of the substrate may be steel or wood studs or concrete masonry units (CMUs). On the outside is the weather-resistant component—the cladding or masonry veneer. Between those are three functional component categories that complete the wall system and make the wall perform: moisture/air, thermal, and structural management.

Moisture/air management relies on:

  • an air- or water-resistive barrier (WRB);
  • a vapor barrier;
  • through-wall flashing (including mortar dropping collection and weep vents); and
  • water- and air-sealing washers on fasteners.

Thermal management involves:

  • insulation between the stud framing;
  • continuous insulation (CI) outside and over the framing; and
  • fire safing insulation.

Structural management depends on:

  • masonry anchors;
  • wall ties; and
  • water- and air-sealing washers on fasteners.

Systemization
Having all the right components in the wall is not enough. A true wall system must have passed extensive testing proving the components, as a system, meet the code-mandated performance criteria and are physically and chemically compatible. Further, the system must pass industry-standard tests, such as:

  • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 285, Standard Fire Test Method for Evaluation of Fire Propagation Characteristics of Exterior Nonloadbearing Wall Assemblies Containing Combustible Components;
  • ASTM E119, Standard Test Methods for Fire Tests of Building Construction and Materials;
  • ASTM E2307, Standard Test Method for Determining Fire Resistance of Perimeter Fire Barriers Using Intermediate-scale, Multistory Test Apparatus
    (used only for joint firestopping);
  • ASTM E331, Standard Test Method for Water Penetration of Exterior Windows, Skylights, Doors, and Curtain Walls by Uniform Static Air Pressure Difference; and
  • ASTM E2357, Standard Test Method for Determining Air Leakage of Air Barrier Assemblies.

Individual product components of the system can also provide the protection of a warranty that covers them against defects. In the event there is a problem, unified and cooperative solutions are best rather than multiple companies acting separately.

Be sure to come back to this blog for part two to learn about moisture management, including a discussion of water-resistive barriers and air barriers.

hurricane ravaged houseWhen the dust settles after a natural disaster, one of the first questions we ask is what could we have done to have been more prepared? How could we have built our residential and non-residential buildings to weather the storm better than they did? As many cities are finding in the wake of tropical storms, hurricanes, and other disasters, one of the best options we have to keep ourselves and our loved one’s safe from the elements is masonry.

When it comes to resisting the impact of natural disasters, masonry provides builders and owners with a lot of advantages. Masonry is strong, durable, and it provides superior resistance to dangerous weather. Reinforced masonry, which uses steel to provide additional structure and strength for the masonry, is essential for ensuring that the building completed today can weather the storms that will come tomorrow, according to Florida’s Bureau of Recovery and Mitigation.

In addition to its strength, masonry offers another key advantage in disaster recovery; it is not a water sensitive material. Common building materials like wood, drywall, and oriented strand board (OSB) will swell, warp, and rot when exposed to water, requiring them to be partially or fully replaced, which increases the cost of disaster recovery and rebuilding efforts. Masonry, on the other hand, is indifferent to water’s presence. Even more importantly, though, when properly constructed and ventilated, masonry will dry thoroughly and completely after storms, flooding, and other disasters. This is one of its greatest strengths, and it’s one that contractors and masons can point to when considering the long-term costs of either building or rebuilding in an area prone to natural disasters.

Changing Standards Make Masonry More Desirable

As Building Science Corporation points out, more cities and states are altering their building standards and requirements in the aftermath of serious natural disasters. That only makes sense, as disasters that have happened at least once are now the benchmark that construction standards must meet to be safe the next time such an incident occurs. And these new standards are embracing masonry as a solution to the problems posed by increased threats from natural disasters. While the specifics will change from one place to another, the material of choice is always the one that resists the force of a storm, can shrug off moisture and water, and which will stand for years as disasters come and go.

These solutions take different forms. From a resurgence in rustication (a medieval technique where the ground floor is built from stone, and the second floor from wood and other materials), to a wider-spread use of steel reinforcing, there is a definite movement to ensure that once cities and homes are rebuilt after a disaster that they can successfully resist the next ones. And it doesn’t look as if masonry is going to stop being the solution any time soon.

To see how Mortar Net Solutions can help you design and build weather-resistant masonry walls that drain and dry rapidly and completely, contact us today at 800-664-6638. For free product samples, click here.

It’s easy to expect that a callback to a completed job can double your cost for the installation – once for the installation, and once more to fix it. Unfortunately, callbacks can actually cost up to five times as much as the original installation. Here’s why, by the numbers:

  1. The cost of the original installation; in other words, the amount you originally bid for your crew to do the installation correctly minus your profit.
  2. The cost of demolition. When you have a callback on a masonry job, chances are good you will have to disassemble or demolish the damaged part of the masonry structure to prepare it for repair. This can be a time-consuming task, especially if materials that are applied by other contractors are involved, such as windows, electrical or plumbing pipes, landscaping and other types of siding. You may have to work around their schedules which can make it hard to schedule the repair efficiently.
  3. The cost of lost business because your crew is doing the demolition instead of working on a paying job. With today’s labor shortage, your crew is probably spread pretty thin. If you have to give up a new job because your crew is tied up on a repair on an older job, that costs you double – once for the cost of the labor on the repair, and again for the money you didn’t get because you couldn’t do the new job.
  4. The cost of the labor and materials to do the repair. This might include also scaffold and equipment rental.
  5. The cost of lost business because your crew is doing the repair instead of working on a paying job. Same doubling of labor cost as in number 3 if you have to pass up a new job to repair an old job.

There’s one more cost that’s hard to put a dollar value on but one that can put you out of business – the cost of a bad reputation. Lots of callbacks can permanently damage your reputation, while eliminating them can improve it.

You can see that a callback has multiple costs that not only eat up your profit but will almost always cost more, sometimes a lot more, than the initial installation. So how can you minimize your callbacks?

  • Don’t short cut on materials. Even small items, like fasteners or brick ties, should be very high quality. Saving a few bucks in the short run could cost way more than the money saved if it results in callbacks.
  • When the tricky parts of a job are being constructed, spend the extra management time to ensure the work will function and appear as planned.
  • Stay up to date on new materials, tools, building techniques and project management software by reading masonry as well as other construction-related magazines, visiting construction-related websites, and joining your local masonry and construction-related trade groups.
  • Request product samples from manufacturers and try them out on test walls when your business slows during the winter. You never know when you might run across something new that reduces your costs while improving quality.

Most call backs are because of either poor design or poor labor and materials management during installation. While you might be able to get the architect to improve a poor design, you usually only have some control over the design. But you have lots of control over work and materials management. Spend a few extra dollars for quality materials, and a few extra hours on site management, and you’ll eliminate more callbacks, save yourself their 5X cost, and build a reputation as the go-to builder in your area.

3D printer, 3D home, computer screen and blueprints, large-scale automated construction conceptDo you think of a 3D printer as a kind of office machine that prints small objects in a confined boxy space? During the last few years, they’ve proven extremely helpful in making construction-related objects such as architectural models and prototypes of tools, fasteners and other small objects, even in designer new brick shapes. These desktop printers usually use plastic as their medium, although some larger printers can use glass, ceramic or special metals. 3D printers are more formally called additive printers. Unlike traditional tools like lathes that remove material to create an object, additive printers add thin layers of material on top of each other to create objects. Now additive printing is leaving the desktop and moving onto the construction site where it can be used to print large building components or even entire buildings.

Construction Scale:

The technology of building-scale printing is just getting started, but a number of different techniques have already been developed for both off-site and on-site construction. These large-scale machines use industrial robots, gantry crane systems, and tethered self-driving vehicles to create the printed structures.

The types of massive 3D printers necessary to print out a building look like hoses attached to a computer-controlled articulating arm, and they use familiar building compounds like concrete. The building construction robot is a dome-like structure 12 feet high and 50 feet in diameter. It is designed to construct an entire building in less than 14 hours. The prototype, designed in the MIT laboratory, is essentially a vehicle with a large industrial arm for reach and a smaller, more dexterous arm for detail. The smaller arm can be fitted with welding systems or a spray head that extrudes building materials like foam.

History of Large-Scale Automated Construction:

Attempts to automate construction are not exactly new. Robotic bricklaying was explored as early as 1952 with Hadrian, the brick-laying robot. Hadrian was supposed to be able to “[scan] its surroundings to work out exactly where to place bricks,” using the simple computer technology of its time. A family of technologies was tried that were forerunners of 3D printing during the 1960s, with pumped concrete and isocyanate foams. Early experiments in robotic assembly of components were tried in Japan during the 1980s and 1990s. Many of these experiments foundered because of economic conditions in the construction industry and because of their inability to adapt to novel architectures.

Real experiments in 3D printing on a construction scale began in 1995. One method, never actually demonstrated, used a sand/cement forming technique that applied steam to “selectively bond” the material in layers. Contour Crafting was patented in 1995 by Behronk Khoshnevis and a team at USC Vertibi. They used ceramic and cement pastes. The technology was never tested beyond laboratory scale.

State of the Art:

In 2003, Robert Soar’s freeform construction group at Loughborough University, UK, moved outside the laboratory and built a large-scale 3D printing machine using concrete pumps, spray concrete, and a gantry system to test ways additive printing techniques could meet the demands of real-world construction. In 2014, the Loughborough technology was sold to Skanska which began the actual construction of building components using 3D printing techniques. These include a mansion style villa, a five-story office tower, and a 2,700 square-foot Museum of the Future in Dubai. This year, Skanska is working on a “printed skyscraper” (with details unspecified).  Meanwhile, FreeFAB is using 3D printing technology to make precision molds to economically create customized concrete components for use in building construction.

Practical Applications for the Masonry Industry:

Many companies are offering off-the-shelf equipment to 3D print architectural detail and structures made of concrete or concrete-like materials that can be custom designed and installed into construction at a fraction of the cost of hand cutting or molding. Structural details can be designed in novel forms that increase their rigidity and strength to fit exactly into ongoing projects. Hollow, interlocking masonry-like construction components can be specifically designed to include electrical, plumbing and air passage spaces in one unit to simplify construction. Developers are working on novel designs of “emerging objects” that can be 3D printed and incorporated into buildings. A team of California-based designers, for instance, have invented earthquake-proof columns built of 3D printed sand to withstand the harshest seismic activity.

3D printing in the construction industry opens the field of custom component design to all professionals in the construction industry who want to add unique detail and novel features into their buildings. For designers who are looking for new ways to express their design visions, 3D printing makes it possible to create shapes and structures that are impossible using traditional building techniques.

For masons who are looking to expand their value in the marketplace, look at how you can become expert at installing 3D printed masonry details and walls. As the shortage of masons continues, designers will look for alternatives to traditional masonry structures, so any mason that can expand his or her capabilities into areas like 3D printed buildings is much more likely to prosper.

Mortar Net Solutions is the industry leader in moisture management solutions for masonry walls, including cavity, single-wythe CMU and adhered masonry walls. Every masonry wall type, whether formed traditionally or by 3D printing, will need to have a system for collecting and removing moisture that gets behind the veneer to keep it beautiful and a source of pride for the designer, contractor and building owner. Please contact us to learn how we can help you keep the masonry walls you build dry and trouble-free.

new hire“Onboarding” is the process of teaching a new employee what’s expected of them, what their job duties are – in short, how to fit in with your company and be a successful and productive team member.

The work that goes into reading through resumes and job applications, scheduling and conducting interviews, and then beginning with a new employee can be exhausting. You don’t want to go through all that work, then have the employee fail because of a poor onboarding process. Here are just a few of the reasons proper onboarding is so critical.

 

 

 

Why onboarding is important

An effective onboarding process will result in an employee that is knowledgeable about:

  • The masonry industry in general
  • Masonry products installation procedures
  • The specific products you sell
  • How to accurately answer customer questions
  • Your business’s brand, culture and procedures

When onboarding is successfully accomplished, you save time and money in the long run because your new employee will help sell your business and increase your profits. But if onboarding is not a success, you either have to go through the hiring process all over again, or struggle with poor performance from your new employee and hope it improves. The benefits of getting onboarding right include:

  • Improved employee performance: Employees with a strong knowledge of their job, accurate, supportive feedback about their performance and specific measures of success will perform at a higher level than those who have learning gaps or feel like they don’t fit in to the company culture.
  • Enhanced employee satisfaction and retention: Employees who are successful in fulfilling their job role will be happier and much more likely to stay on the job, saving you the headache and expense of having to go through the hiring process again. Studies by Deloitte show that the cost of replacing a salaried employee, including advertising, interviewing, screening, training, lost productivity and management time, can amount to 20% of the annual salary. An employee making $40,000/year, for example, would cost $8,000 to replace.

How to onboard your new hires smoothly

Onboarding doesn’t just happen by chance. You need a written, detailed and specific onboarding plan that you follow with every new employee. If you take a “learn-as-you-go” approach, you’ll be likely doing a lot of damage control or at very best picking up the slack for an underperforming employee. Why settle for that when you don’t have to. Here are three tips to secure successful employee onboarding.

Write out your plan

No plan is effective unless it’s written down. Chances are if you try to keep mental track of how it’s going with the onboarding, you’ll forget some things. Writing brings legitimacy to the plan, so take time to write down every step in onboarding new hires.

Map out measurable goals

When writing out your goals for the onboarding process, be specific. For example, you may want to have the employee watch specific videos related to the masonry industry such as “How to install BlockFlash.” Or you may want the new hire to read product overviews, review detail drawings, and read specifications for BlockFlash and the other products you carry. Provide accountability by writing down the goals and ensuring they’re met.

Add a socialization component to your plan

Getting your employee up to speed on job tasks is only one aspect of onboarding. You want the employee to feel fully integrated with the job, management, and other employees. Socialization allows your employee to feel like an integral part of the company family. This involves emotional bonding which leads to loyalty – an important but often overlooked element. Make sure you take the time to introduce him or her to all the other employees. Help the person feel welcomed. And if they’ll be dealing with manufacturer’s reps and key customers, be sure to introduce them when they come in.

At Mortar Net Solutions, we offer a comprehensive library of articles, videos, and product samples to help your employees learn about our products during the onboarding process. Equip them with the tools they need by visiting our website, and click here for free product samples.

mason studentAs a masonry contractor, you’re advertising to a highly specific audience: general contractors and design/build firms who are looking for masonry subcontractors. There may only be a handful of them in your area, you’d probably rather work with some of them more than others, and your competitors are also trying to get their attention – and their business.

To market yourself specifically to the firms you most want to work with and beat your competition, try account-based marketing (ABM). With ABM, you’ll market specifically to the companies or accounts that you most want to hire you, rather than sending out mass marketing campaigns. These five tips will help you increase the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and generate more business.

 

 

 

  1. Learn Who’s Responsible for Making Buying Decisions

Who’s responsible for deciding which subcontractors will be used on a specific project? It’s often not the company owner who should be targeted, but rather the individual project superintendents. You can also target specific superintendents who are known for maintaining a great project environment or getting the job done in a timely manner. Take the time to find out who is responsible for making subcontracting decisions at the construction company, then target them directly. This will help prevent you from spamming every member of the company or targeting your marketing efforts to someone who doesn’t have anything to do with the hiring process.

  1. Personalize Your Marketing Communications

What is it that this specific general contractor or superintendent is looking for in their subcontractors? Do they want subs who are able to complete the project quickly and efficiently, or are they seeking the lowest price? Is there a certain type of work that they’re most interested in, such as the ability to build multiple arches? By taking the time to examine exactly what they’re looking for, you can personalize your marketing communications to show how your masonry firm can fill their needs. Don’t just make generalized statements like, “Quality work you can trust” or “We’ve been in business for 25 years.” Be specific about how your skills and experience match your target audience’s needs.

  1. Pre-Target Construction Firms

Is there a firm in your area that you’d love to work with? Have you struggled to get your foot in the door in the past, but been unable to make the connections you need? Don’t wait until there’s a big project on the table to put your name out there – pre-target them! Pre-targeting means getting in touch with the firms you’d really like to work with, sharing information about your company and building their trust in you. Look for networking opportunities with these specific companies, including going to industry events and joining common interest groups on Linkedin and other social media sites. Send marketing communications that display the elements they’re looking for in a contractor, and connect with them on a regular basis. These regular communications will allow them to warm up to your company and increase their familiarity with you–both good things when the time comes to make a hiring decision for a big project.

  1. Keep Nurturing

Connections won’t immediately turn into sales, especially during your slow seasons. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should forget about your account-based marketing efforts! Keep nurturing those important connections. Send cards or promotional goodies over the holidays, check in via email, or follow other common methods to keep your name out there and increase the odds that when the time does come to make a purchasing decision, you’ll be on their minds. Keep in mind that general contractors often play a long game. They’re thinking about upcoming projects, not about the ones they’ve already started–and those are the ones you need to think about, too. If you have access to industry databases like Dodge Reports, find out what masonry projects are on the drawing boards and start referring to them in your communications. Demonstrate in advance of the bid process that you know how to bring in the best results for the individual project.

Developing an account-based marketing strategy is a great way to connect more effectively with general contractors and help put your company out there for the work you most want to do. Looking for more ways to reduce labor costs and for someone to give you expert bid help on all types of masonry projects? Contact us today to learn how we can help.

architect account based marketingOperating as a small or medium-sized firm means you may struggle to get noticed when it comes to being considered for large, high-value projects. To keep your business healthy and help it grow, you need to get the attention of big clients while using a much smaller marketing budget than your larger competitors. If you want to improve your chances of attracting larger, high-value customers using a limited marketing budget, you should try account-based marketing.

Account-based marketing, or ABM, means you’re marketing to specific companies you’d like to work with, instead of blasting out a single, more generalized message to your entire target market. Think of it as a 100-percent personalized approach to marketing. But ABM isn’t for every situation. It works best for businesses-to-businesses, or B2B marketing.

Why Use Account-Based Marketing?

While ABM requires more time and energy than general mass marketing, it produces a higher return on investment (ROI), in part because it creates a relationship that generates familiarity and trust. For example, if a small architecture firm uses ABM to create a relationship that leads to preferred vendor status with a general design or design/build firm doing large projects, it can produce much more revenue over a longer time compared to one-off jobs with two or three smaller clients that low-cost marketing efforts might attract.

Although all the content you’ll create for ABM is personalized and not directly reusable, nothing goes to waste. You’ll find that you can frequently re-purpose the basic content for multiple targets. For example, a proven track record of on-time, on-budget product delivery, including case studies, is a key selling point you can use with multiple target customers.

Companies often prefer ABM to traditional marketing tactics because ABM communications focus on how you can solve your client’s specific problems, not you trying to sell them your product. ABM should feel to your targets like you’re a trusted consultant offering a personalized solution to their problems. Give your leads the royal treatment – in the form of valuable content and tailored solutions – and they’re more likely to respond.

Does ABM sound like an effective approach yet? If so, here are six steps to help you get started with effective account-based marketing:

1. Identify Your Accounts.

Start by making a list of high-value accounts. These accounts should be companies, not individuals, and must be worth pursuing seriously. Eliminate companies that are too small – in name or budget – from this list. You can reach these smaller companies through general marketing, but high-value, hard-to-reach companies require ABM. But be sure to target individuals within these high value companies. Sending your marketing pieces to “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To the person in charge of subcontracting” isn’t going to get the results you want.

2. Conduct In-Depth Research.

Once you’ve identified your target accounts, start learning about these companies. You can consider their history and growth, any recent changes, and more importantly, their pain points. Then, spend time on their people. Map out the company structure. Identify key personnel within the company, especially influencers and decision makers.

A company website might be all you need for your research, but if it’s not, branch out to tools like LinkedIn and Facebook. LinkedIn allows you to search by company, and search within a company by job title or even seniority level. Facebook may tell you more about each individual’s interests and personal information that will help you understand what their individual priorities are and will help you more accurately tailor your message to an actual person instead of a “customer”. Also be sure to do a general search for the company’s name to see if there have been any articles written about them. For example, if you find an article that says the company plans to expand, a piece of ABM might mention how you can help them with the increased demands of more business without having to hire more internal staff.

3. Create Valuable, Customized Content

In this step, you must first inventory the strengths of your company, see how what you do best dovetails with what your client’s needs are, then draw on what you learned about the company to create targeted material that describes in detail how you can solve their problems or reduce their pain. Be sure to include soft-skills strengths such as excellent customer service or a proven ability to interface well with other subcontractors.

Produce content that has the goal of directing the company back to you. You can tailor your content for specific decision makers or make it applicable to the company as a whole.

4. Prepare Your Content for the Best Platforms

After you’ve created your content, you need to find the best place to post it. Emailing the individuals in the target company is one way to share your message, but it may be seen as intrusive or never be opened, so it’s vital to use multiple platforms.

Social media is an invaluable tool with which to reach companies and individuals without requiring an opt-in. Consider which platforms your account uses, as well as the platforms that the company’s influencers and high-level employees use. Join LinkedIn and other industry user groups your target customers belong to so they can get to know you a bit before receiving your marketing materials. But be sure not to market through these forums, which are designed primarily for information sharing, not as sales tools. If your potential customer has a Twitter account, sign up to receive their tweets. You never know when they may tweet key information about an upcoming project that allows you to customize your communication or get to your client before your competition.

According to the Pew Research Center, 72 percent of American adults who use the Internet are on Facebook. In contrast, only 25 percent of the population is on LinkedIn, but the age demographic is higher than any other online platform, so you’re more likely to find senior management personnel there. Architect and design firms may also be on Instagram, due to the highly visual nature of the work.

And of course, you can always use old-fashioned snail-mail to get their attention. A catchy postcard may get more notice than plugging your pitch into the firehose of electronic communication most executives deal with every day. Because it’s so seldom used, snail-mail can really stand out.

5. Coordinate with Sales to Execute Your Campaign

Account-based marketing requires an approach very similar to sales. Both departments work with the goal of obtaining a specific client. Coordinate with sales to ensure that your content is complementary and not repetitive, and ask your sales staff for information about the prospective client you can use to tailor your approach. Sales staff can also be instrumental in helping you develop your list of ideal accounts.

6. Keep Track of Analytics

Don’t forget to measure your success. Record what works and what you can do better in the next campaign. Trying a marketing strategy for the first time always involves an element of trial and error. As you develop your ABM methodology, aim at just one client at a time until your have your system in place and feedback indicates it’s effective. It’s much better to make a mistake with only one client than with lots of them. Make adjustments as needed and continue to go after those high-value accounts.

Net Solutions is a leader in moisture management for masonry walls. All our products are designed to reduce installation times compared to comparable products and methods, and to ensure that masonry walls remain dry and trouble-free. We help you build projects you can be proud of for a lifetime. Contact us for free product samples and visit www.mortarnet.com for more information.

 

Group having a contractor project management meeting going over blueprints and making a planContractors around the country are always trying to save money, improve their process and meet client demands. They need to meet tight deadlines while producing high quality results and maximizing worker productivity. These competing pressures make sound project management stressful and a challenge to achieve. However, a few tips will help contractors get the most out of their process so they can achieve their goals and stay profitable for the long term.

  1. Create a Road Map

Mark out all the steps from project origination to completion. The steps should include, among other things, every major project evaluation threshold, the standards that need to be achieved, the square feet covered and the teams involved. Each step along the way must also have an estimated completion date. There are project management software products that can help map out the entire process. Construction Pro Manager is one of these software products.

  1. Perform Constant Performance Review

Workers, subcontractors and other professionals on the project management team need constant performance review. While this is not meant to be overbearing, a review of work procedures, finishes and craftsmanship is a must.

Workers want a clear definition of success and appreciate guidance and feedback to help them achieve it. Negative criticism can generate resentment and actually reduce productivity. Placing the feedback in a constructive light helps them do a better job, work faster and improve overall performance.

You can help performance by creating smaller teams with leaders on each team. Those leaders are responsible for the feedback in their group and then pass the information up the chain. By getting continually updated information from the jobsite, you can aggregate the feedback and get a sense of how the overall project is going.

  1. Acquire the Latest Tools

Project managers without the latest tools and equipment are doomed to be slower, less productive and more costly than competitors. In addition to traditional hand tools and powered equipment like mixers and fork lifts, technological advances are rapidly advancing that can improve productivity. For example, DeWalt has a new job site WiFi system that allows instant communication across an entire job site, including real time video monitoring. SAM100, which stands for Semi-Automated Mason, is a bricklaying robot that can lay brick six times faster than a skilled mason with greater accuracy. Whether you opt for these new high-tech tools or not, you should be aware they’re out there so you can see if your competitors are winning work from you because they’re using them and you’re not.

To make sure that companies are keeping up with the latest tools, someone from the company should be attending the major conferences, reading content from trade publications, and doing periodic searches online for new trends, tools and technologies. Additionally, speaking with buyers and distributors about what they are seeing in the market can help you know where you are in relation to your competition.

  1. Require Competitive Bidding

Contractors themselves often have subcontractors and equipment purchases. Getting the friendliest subcontractor or the one that you have known the longest works to some extent since you trust them. On the other hand, they may not be the cheapest or most skilled option and can end up reducing your profitability. And equipment suppliers may be willing to give you better pricing or more favorable financing terms if you ask, but they’re unlikely to volunteer them.

To really get the best performance from your subs, it makes sense to always use a competitive bidding process. This includes RFPs or at least blind bids. Letting your subs know you expect them to keep their pencils sharp helps you make a much more informed decision on your subcontractor or equipment purchase.

  1. Provide Transparency

Although it may sometimes be uncomfortable, transparency with all members of your team is crucial. Workers, subcontractors, developers and skilled masons all want to know where they stand. They want to see the road map and the evaluation schedule. Creating an open and honest process leads to better performance and a better project.

One way to improve transparency is to write out all of a project’s milestones at the beginning of the project. Post them in a location where all the workers can see them every day. Make sure that all employees and subs are on board with the schedule, and require them to inform you immediately if they can’t meet the schedule. They will know they are being held to the timetable just as you are. This produces a better overall process and much better communication.

Mortar Net Solutions is an industry leader in moisture management for all types of masonry walls. To learn more, go to www.mortarnet.com. For free product samples, email samples@mortarnet.com or call 800-664-6638, Ext. 509.

hurricane-irma-destruction-damage-floridaIf you’re a contractor who’s part of the rebuild process in the Texas and Florida areas devastated by hurricanes, you can improve your level of customer service and your reputation by educating yourself about ways to reinforce masonry buildings so they’re much more wind-resistant. Reinforcing steel in vertical sections of the wall, solid bond beams at the top of the wall tied to the foundation by rebar, and an extremely strong connection to the roof all make the entire building more wind resistant.  Don’t just rebuild to original standards. Help your customers understand that if they’re in a hurricane-prone area, they need to spend a bit more money to ensure their homes and businesses can survive hurricanes with minimal damage. A few extra dollars spent during the rebuild process not only prevents major rebuild costs the next time a hurricane comes through, but may save lives by preventing a building from collapsing on its occupants. Learn more about how to build a hurricane-resistant structure at the link below.

http://www.floridadisaster.org/hrg/content/walls/masonry_walls.asp