How to Differentiate Your General Contracting Company From Larger Competitors

May 5, 2020 Trimble Buildings

Faced with the scale and inertia of large general contracting companies, competing with the higher ranks might seem futile on a limited budget and with limited reach. However, emerging construction technologies can help small and mid-sized companies gain a competitive edge, win contracts, and remain relevant in the face of Goliath-like operations.

If you’re running a general contracting company — or work as a chief technology officer or as an engineer — integrating new tech into daily workflows can help small-to-medium-sized construction companies find time, money, and resource improvements in several construction and administrative processes. 

Heavy hitters

Although the competition of heavy hitters might be intimidating at first, their greatest strength can also be their Achilles heel: inertia. Bound by the momentum that comes with size, large construction companies tend to be slow to change and wary of emerging technologies.  

Motivated by the successes of the past, companies in this tier are liable to keep the status quo and rely on processes that served them in the past. Here is where the next tier can exert the most control — flexible in structure and able to adapt to the times, up-and-coming construction companies can find new efficiencies in the technologies heavy hitters are hesitant to adopt. 

Up-and-comer

For those that are not quite Tier 1, but aspire to be there soon: this is for you. Maybe you are on the brink of breaking through, or maybe you aspire to rise in ranks. Either way, up-and-comers are full of potential, but need something more to get over the edge.

Construction technology can be that extra push up-and-comers need. Automation, template-driven workflows, historical data, and more — construction technology can help streamline estimating, project management, and labor.

This, of course, does not come without its own issues.

In general, smaller companies take on more relative risk when adopting new technology. For example, while a large company might do 200 projects a year, and a failed experiment isn’t much of a gamble, an up-and-coming construction business might do 20 projects a year and can’t afford many missteps. However, if you’re willing to manage the risk, the returns on technology modernization can be substantial. 

Up-and-Comer satisfied with scale

Companies in this category are like the above but a little different. While these companies might be similar to the Up-and-Comers in size and scale, they’re not interested in competing with the big players. Many mid-sized companies are content with their scale, but are looking to boost margin, streamline management, and improve overall business efficiency.

One area in which mid-sized companies, in particular, struggle is recruiting good talent. Whether trying to recruit to the team or partner with subcontractors, this tier of construction company simply doesn’t have the pull of a larger company. Heavy hitters can offer competitive pay and benefits, and subcontractors might be hesitant to partner with a less-established company in fear of compromising their relationship with a large company. 

As a mid-sized company, you have to stand out among your equivalent competition. You have to offer competitive pay — not only fast and efficient compensation but also a figure on par with other companies. 

Rising to the occasion through construction technology

A few technologies that can help a small-to-mid-sized general contractor stand out among the competition include:

  • Certain project management software is designed specifically to optimize the management of large construction projects with a small team. This software can fill gaps, improve collaboration, and help a small construction management team rise to the occasion and compete with larger companies. 

  • Backed by the right technologies, smaller companies can offer efficient payment to workers and subcontractors. Real-time progress tracking technology can facilitate efficient subcontractor payment by feeding this information from the field into the office quickly and accurately. Gain real-time updates from the field to verify progress billing, confirm work completion on the spot, and pay subcontractors sooner.

  • Estimating software helps mid-sized construction companies do more with less — automate complex calculations, utilize templated formatting to promote consistency, draw from managed online content for the latest prices and specs on common parts, and more. Estimating software helps improve both speed and accuracy of bids which can translate to unique efficiencies and new business for mid-sized companies. 

Construction is a tough business with tight margins. And, while a structural or operational shift can seem intimidating, the ultimate ROI on new technology might be exactly what your company needs. Whether you integrate new methods of building to increase speed and accuracy, or hire strategically to come into projects competitively and undercut the big players, construction technology can pave the way for your mid-sized construction company to gain a competitive edge.

Check out our latest ebook for smaller general contractors, Innovative Solutions to Unique Challenges Facing Small to Midsize Construction Companies, for more tips for staying competitive.

 
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