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Monday, March 12, 2007

In the zone

Denise Michaels sold me on paying $600 for consulting services this evening. I didn't know about her yesterday morning. We have never met, talked on the phone, and our exchange involved one email communication through the Ryze business network.

Why did I so easily buy what she had to sell?

First, she offered something that right now I really want and need, and which is rather specialized. She offers a mentoring service for those who want to publish a book. I've set one of my goals this year to publish a book on construction marketing. It is a fair goal, but something tells me I am going to need a little push to get there. She appears to offer the push.

Second, she reached me. Somehow her posting on the Ryze network landed in my in-box. She posted in a non-selling mode, asking a question, but underlying the question she asked was an invitation to do business with her.

Third, and finally, she made effective use of testimonials. I found her convincing. I feel the $600 risk is one I am ready to take. So I said "yes".

(In case you are planning to write a book, here is the thread on Ryze that I originally viewed:

Now, in this blog, I obviously am not going to give her a testimonial -- yet. She will have to deliver the goods, and I will have to complete my share of the bargain.

Meanwhile, tonight, my neighbour who attended the power session starring Anthony Robbins last week sent me the url to motivational speaker/coach Jim Fannin's site, I am going through some of the material here -- it appears to be quite useful, though again I cannot give an unqualified testimonial because I haven't tested things in practice.

Finally, I have been thinking a fair bit today about the implications of Change Orders for the construction marketing process. These add-ons to the construction contract of course are the stuff of disputes, litigation, profitability, angst, and success. Well executed change orders can be the difference between a marginal and truly successful job; failures in this area can blow profits and relations to smithereens. Of course, as well, the way they are handled affects the dynamics of future business relationships.

About change orders. . .

In a previous article, I describe how pre-arranged change orders allow a 'favorite' general contractor to always come in low, win the job, and be profitable. (Of course this practice might be seen as corrupt to that contractors' competitors, but obviously neither the favored contractor nor client are complaining.) This example is Point 2 in my "Seven Tips for Construction Marketing Success", which you can request at the Construction Marketing Advice page on our regional websites. See: for example.

Conversely, I know that some GCs and subs play the change order game with the aim of exploiting weaknesses in the client's position/drawings, and racking up huge fees to offset a low-ball bid. Surely this is not a wise way to operate your business if you are operating within the framework of long range relationships, repeat business, and true marketing success. But it might make you a quick buck (if you aren't sued out of everything).

I need to do more research in this area because I think how consultants, contractors, and subs handle change orders on the job is a fundamental of the relationship process and a cornerstone of effective marketing.

Mark Buckshon is president of the Construction News and Report Group of Companies. He can be reached by phone at 888-432-3555 ext 224 or by email at

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