The internet revolution has started to hit the construction industry. Most companies involved in the supply and specification of construction materials have websites, they all use email, and some do business directly over the internet.
With many merchants it’s already possible to access your account online and request quotes or place orders.
So why do I say that the interent revolution has only started to hit the construction trade?
The internet promises to revolutionise the way we do business. It does this by providing instant access to information, and a reliable means of communication. Like all businesses, construction requires a constant flow of knowledge as well as reliable supply of materials and services. The need for information becomes ever more pressing as the burden of regulation increases.
But the construction trade is a traditional trade, and resistant to rapid changes. In some ways this can be a good thing. The best of our tradesmen are craftsmen, using skills developed over generations to produce quality results. Unfortunately these same individuals may not be best equipped to leap on board the technological bandwagon.
Despite this, the internet is still the first place that a significant proportion of our customers go looking for information; especially product information. That proportion is growing.
One merchant I work with has their whole stock profile visible online. They are a local merchant and are not yet equipped to take orders online, nor do they have a national delivery chain. Despite this they get regular enquiries from across the country. This is particularly true of several of their more obscure products (every merchant has some of those, right?). If you search the internet for some of these items, you will only get one result – their website. In many cases not even the manufacturer has a website.
It’s clear that suppliers of construction materials and services have much to gain from a good online presence, and that will become ever more important.
This leads me to the main subject of this entry, blogging.
Blogging is an odd word and perhaps an even odder practise. It’s quite young, maybe only three or four years old, and certainly not prevalent in the building trade. If you’re not yet familiar with blogging, you may find this article interesting.
Blogs are a good way for companies to put a human face onto a corporate website. Their relaxed and informal style makes them more interesting to read than the ‘informational’ style of conventional articles. They serve much the same purpose that a ‘newspaper column’ does. They have three great advantages though.
- News and information can be made accessible in a matter of minutes.
- Anyone (anywhere) can access the information.
- They usually include a way of permitting feedback, like the comments enabled on this blog.
I’ve just completed an interview with Emily Wright of the Building Magazine. You might see the results in print. They’re looking at the relevance of blogging to the construction trade.
As well as the possible advantages I outline above, blogging has another possible impact on the building trade. It’s not just companies who blog!
One of the most prominent features of the blogging phenomenon is that anyone can do it, and anyone does. News and opinions from individuals can go online and reach an international audience. Recently bloggers have reached the headlines from Iran, China and even the American political scene. Maybe this doesn’t sound relevant, but suddenly bad service and bad practises can become a matter of public record. It is important to be aware of new developments in the communications media, not necessarily to take advantage of them ourselves (although obviously we do), but also to be aware of ways they may affect us in the future.
We’ve welcomed the new year in with a new article Markup or Margin ?.
This article is especially written for merchants (and anyone in the selling business) who not only need excellent customer service skills and product knowledge, but also need to be able to handle the tricky business of working with nett costs, gross profits and supplier discounts.
Giving customers the best possible discounts, whilst still maintaining acceptable margins can task everyone who doesn’t have a PHD in applied mathematics. This article will take you through these issues, explaining the concepts, and giving you simple ways to calculate prices.
We now have several new articles. These are a series of articles by the Federation of Master Builders.
They are mainly on subjects related to maintainance and improvement of domestic properties. They will be of interest to anyone who is looking to extend their home or garden.
You can read them at :
The Article Index Page