Smart Measures to Implement During a Global Crisis: How Do I Keep My Business Moving?

Now more than ever, businesses are starting to see the effects of COVID-19. In the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry, spring is a time of networking at conferences, gearing up for proposal season, conducting business over a round of golf, and taking a highly anticipated summer vacation. However, it is clear that the “business as usual” mindset is not a possibility as we move into Q2. AEC companies have concerns over how the novel coronavirus will impact project schedules, sales and business development, employment, and much more.

So how will you keep your business moving during this time of uncertainty?

It is important that AEC firms adapt to these sudden changes and approach business using a proactive – not reactive – mindset. Now is not the time to hit pause on your business. You must change your approach and reach clients, projects, and employees in a new way: by utilizing the digital age to communicate effectively.

How do I stay in front of my clients?

Across the built environment, various markets such as healthcare, sports and entertainment, and aviation are being severely impacted by the novel coronavirus. Think about how you can use your firm’s strengths to offer insight into other markets or provide solutions to your clients and prospects to mitigate fears they have. Relationships and networking are enormous aspects of sales and business development, but face-to-face meetings and conferences are not the only way to stay engaged with your network. More and more business is conducted online, and living in a digital age means there are alternative communication methods you can adopt. Regardless of the communication channel, it is important to provide your clients and prospects with information they value. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Email Communication. Frequently touching base with your clients or setting up a weekly email campaign allows you to continue offering clients helpful insights and solutions. You want to remain at the forefront of your client and prospect’s minds. Email applications like Mailchimp and Hubspot make all of this possible.
  2. Video Conferencing. Productivity doesn’t have to stall while working remotely. Virtually meet your clients where they are. Video conferencing software applications like Zoom Meetings, GoToMeeting, and Skype Business are helping firms limit the impact COVID-19 has on production. Check out more top-rated video conferencing software here.
  3. Chatbots help answer client and prospect questions quickly. For nationally or globally known firms, you may be fighting a barrage of questions from clients and prospects. Using AI chatbots allows you to automate your responses to FAQs or let inquirers know you understand their concern and will get back to them ASAP. Mitigating fears is a top priority, and chatbots help streamline this process.
  4. Amp up your social media postings. Whether we admit it or not, when we spend our workdays online, we eventually find ourselves on social media. Make sure you are consistently updating your social media with relevant, useful content. Run paid campaigns to targeted audiences to ensure the right people are consuming your content, and create an organic posting schedule to stay on track.
  5. Launch a podcast. Podcasting has seen a major spike in user engagement over the last few years. According to a 2019 NPR and Edison study, over half of the population is listening to podcasts. Because the AEC Industry is such a competitive market, firms must find innovative ways to reach their audience. Listen to our podcast AEC Marketing for Principals with Stephen Woessner to learn more about how podcasting can help your business succeed.
  6. Take your events online using webinars. Social distancing is in full swing, which means networking events like lunch and learns, conferences, and other major AEC industry events have been postponed or canceled completely. Stand out from the crowd by hosting your event virtually! With webinars, you don’t have to sacrifice audience size or interaction. Additionally, most platforms have feedback portals for attendees to comment on their thoughts and submit questions. Here are the best webinar platforms of 2020 according to TechRadar.

How do I keep my employees informed?

Your employees are your brand ambassadors and the heart of your company culture. It is essential that you overcommunicate with your team and remain transparent during a crisis. Take a genuine approach to address the impacts your company may face. In addition, take time to address your employees needs and concerns. If you can’t promise job security, don’t. Sugarcoating the truth is a fast way to lose employee trust in leadership.

While remote working may be the norm for some companies, for many, this is a new environment. Whether you’re a small firm or a global enterprise company, there are many ways to keep internal communication consistent and effective:

  1. Stay engaged with employees by setting up daily debrief calls or by sending out an employee survey. What fears or questions does your team have? What common pain points are their clients facing? Have they had any client success stories? How are they helping their clients or approaching the business differently? Allocate time daily to ask your employees or team how they are feeling and answer concerns they have. If you can’t commit to daily calls, SurveyMonkey makes it easy to set up a quick survey so you can understand your employee needs.
  2. Start an internal podcast. As mentioned above, podcasting is a great tool to reach your audience effectively. But podcasting doesn’t always have to be public. Many companies use internal podcasting as a means to keep employees across all offices informed on important company updates. Internal podcasting sites like Podbean and Storyboard make this a simple process. In the AEC industry, many employees work from project sites or in the field, so reaching the mobile worker is made easy through podcasting, no matter where their “office” is located that day.
  3. Implement an internal communication channel. Internal messaging systems streamline company communication and remove the dreaded email chain. Utilizing a software like Slack allows your teams to have instant communication with one another, which makes working from home a breeze and allows everyone to stay connected.

Although COVID-19 may be causing temporary change, the effects could be permanent. Waiting for it to pass is not an option. Typical communication methods and ways of conducting day-to-day business are changing, and it is crucial that AEC leaders identify how they can help current clients. Be a solution to potential clients and communicate effectively with your employees. Companies that proactively adapt to the changes will keep their business moving while others struggle to stay above the waves.

If moving your business online is a new territory, Smartegies is here to help. Contact our leadership team to learn how we are helping AEC firms navigate