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For the past couple of years, we’ve started a blog for each of our large projects. The premise  is simple: once a week, a designated person from the field office sends digital images and brief descriptions to our home office. We manage that information, and on Tuesdays post to each project’s page.

So, why do we go to the trouble? I’ll give you three good reasons.

Our Customers. The folks we have the privilege to work with aren’t always near their construction sites. The blogs give a visual check-in for them. They’re also great bragging tools. We’ve found our customer relationships often like to share their blog site with their team or with their own prospects.

Our Communities. A construction site is a living, growing thing. As projects move along, the community has a right to see progress–at a safe distance. I’d like to give everyone in the community a hardhat tour of the places we are building, but being more realistic, project blogs give them a front row seat complete with commentary.

Our People. Listed last, but certainly not counted least, is our Stewart Perry team. Since our business spreads across the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic states, it’s virtually impossible for each team member to visit each site. Project blogs let them participate and give them a sense of pride in all our work.

Would a blog be a good way to chronicle work on your next site? We’ve found project blogs an invaluable tool for building, maintaining and improving relationships.

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Merrill Stewart is Founder and President of the Stewart Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham, Ala. Contact him via email
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Every once in a while, our team takes a bit of time away from the busy schedules we all maintain for a get together. It’s not a big time commitment, but it gives us an opportunity to catch up with folks who may be in and out of the office a good bit. Today, we all had lunch.

It’s always encouraging to me when, after we’ve had some laughs about little league and vacation, the conversation moves toward team building. This is a particularly sharing group—if they’ve had a success, they want everyone else to know how so the success can spread. As I’ve said before, the sum of our work is far greater than the parts.

Here’s what came out of lunch today:

  • Today, retaining customers is more vital than ever.
  • We are in the service business, but we are also in the “experience business.” Conscious or not, our customers will rate their experience as good, bad or indifferent with every sale.
  • Make no mistake about it, cost is important more than ever. But if cost is the same, the experience factor is the new competitive differentiator.
  • Our customers are loyal to us when they receive value beyond the ordinary buy and sell.
  • The more extraordinary the value, the greater the loyalty.
  • It’s important to determine what the “value lever” for each of our individual customers. We’ve got customers who like a routine. Some want fast answers while others are looking for a personal touch. Most appreciate problem solving beyond the transaction. Whatever the individual value leveler, identify it and work to fulfill it.
  • Stay in touch. Communicate. Communicate in different ways: a short note, an e-mail, a phone call or a value suggestion is often appreciated. Smaller, more frequent connects will lead to longer relationships and loyalty.

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Merrill Stewart is Founder and President of the Stewart Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham, Ala. Contact him via email.