July 02, 2018

Fun in (next summer's) sun: 5 tips to plan your future pipeline today

It’s busy season for construction and engineering, and thanks to the work you put in last year, or even the past couple years, your team is currently in already juggling several different projects for the next several months.

But, as we all know, a full pipeline now doesn’t predict or guarantee a full pipeline tomorrow, so the best time to plan for breaking new ground under next summer’s sun (and the summer after that) is now!

Ok, easier said than done. With the holiday coming up and family vacays in full force, it might be a little difficult catching a meeting with architects and developers in your network this next week.

But, what you can do now is your research (from anywhere!) Your back porch, the pontoon — you name it. As long as you’ve got wifi and bug spray, you’re golden (oh yeah, don’t forget the SPF 50.)

Because local municipalities, such as the city planning commission or economic development board, are the first place that both public and private projects are discussed, the regularly posted minutes and agendas from these meetings are great starts for initial research on projects months to years out.

Often times, project at this stage don’t even have a bid date set yet!

Municipalities are required by law to post agendas 24 hours in advance on their website, so these do the trick for finding a basic topic of what will be discussed at an upcoming meeting. For example, “New brewery on Main Street,” may be an agenda item.

But, while it provides you a place to start, agendas such as this one don’t always contain as much details as we want. Regardless, knowing about a new restaurant coming down the pike is super valuable! So, Tip #1:

Make sticky notes on agenda items you want to follow up on. Check the minutes after that commission, committee, or board meeting takes place for more information.

Next, you can get the most recently posted minutes document for a local municipality commission, committee, or board. Like agendas, municipalities are required to post minutes after the meeting.

But, unlike agendas, minutes get posted after the meeting, since they are detailed discussions of what was actually said during the meeting. For example, “John Smith of A-1 Architects presented the certified survey map request to combine parcels 1 and 2 on 7517 Main Street for the construction of a 8,123 square-foot brewery” may be a snippet from discussion captured in the minutes.

Minutes are powerful documents when you take into consideration their crazy amount of detail and timeliness. Because of this, however, some of these minutes are hundreds of pages long. And since your time, especially right before vacation, is super valuable, here’s Tip #2:

If you have a specific or project type or point-of-contact, such as “restaurant” or “A-1 Architects,” in mind before looking through a minutes document, click command+F or ctrl+F to find that keyword.

Doing this will save you a ton of time, and — to keep your findings organized (so you don’t forget them over vacation) — Tip #3 will also ease that post-vacay game of catch up:

Log the information you find — the date and type of meeting, the keyword you searched for, the snippet of discussion that keyword was found in, and the names of any important contacts associated with the project — into your CRM, or customer relationship management, platform.

CRMs store information about potential future customers in one place online to help maximize the efficiency of your business development team. If your team isn’t set up with a CRM yet, Hubspot is a comprehensive and free option.

Keeping all of this information organized goes a long way, especially when it’s for projects that are months to years out, and (because of that) still getting tacked on with more valuable pieces of information that need approval by the local committee, commission, or board it initially went through.

An extra step you could even take is Tip #4:

Get the exact contact information of firms representing those projects at the municipality meeting by using your state’s business registry.  

On here, you’ll be able to find, for example, the name and address of the person responsible for the LLC for the new development.

Understanding now all the valuable bits and pieces of information found in minutes and agendas, Tip #5 can help you (literally) keep tabs on them in the future:

Bookmark the website for municipalities in counties where you’re interested in staying the local expert on upcoming projects. Mark your calendar or set a notification on your phone to check this website at a certain time each week when the minutes and agendas are regularly posted for that municipality.

By following these tips, you’ll become a pro at keeping track on negotiated-bid work before they’re negotiated, increasing your chance to get in contact with project decision-makers and/or know exactly what information to follow up on at your next networking event or outing.

Guaranteed your network will be impressed by both your awareness of discussions at the local level, and may even keep you top-of-mind on who to call when they or their boss is looking to hire a GC or engineer on that project for next season.

After all, those who have fun in next summer’s sun are the ones who plan for it today.

Interested in automating this process? Curate sifts minutes and agendas in counties chosen by you to search for upcoming projects that make sense for your firm — click Get Started today.

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