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Read any good plans lately?

Every week we seem to have another government plan to read, last week it was the Low Carbon Construction Action Plan. As one industry commentator said, we certainly can’t complain that the government is ignoring construction.

And if you read Mark Prisk’s introduction to this latest publication, there are lots of encouraging phrases: “boost confidence in the construction industry”, “becoming a more consistent and intelligent client”, “create the certainty needed for companies to invest”.

Of course a cynic might say that none of this will happen, but as the Infrastructure Action Plan shows, many leading figures are taking it seriously. Can you afford not to?

The answer is NO. The government might not achieve all they have set out to do, but they are certainly stirring the pot and things will change. No company can afford to ignore these developments. The changes represent either opportunities or threats, depending upon how you react.

What you do now will decide your future. Do you want to be struggling to win business by constantly cutting margins, or developing a reputation as a problem solver with an added value service?

In marketing, we preach the doctrine of understanding your customer’s needs. It is intended that the changes the government is planning will cascade down through the industry, which means they will affect your customers or your customers’ customers, even if you do not work directly for the government.

Now is the time to be talking to your customers and your customers’ customers, discussing how they see things changing and then proposing how you can help adapt to these changes.

If you can help your customers survive in these turbulent times you will become a valued supplier; you may also find new and more profitable ways of doing business.

“How can things be more profitable when the government is trying to drive down cost?” I hear you ask. Refreshingly, the focus is on doing things differently to take out cost.

If you examine all of your processes you may be able to find some specialist expertise that allows things to be done more efficiently (and profitably) and which your competitors lack. It’s business evolution - not a traditional strength of the construction industry.

So make time to read those government reports, then think about what they are trying to achieve and how your company can help this happen.

Talk to your customers and find out what their issues are and see how you can work with them to solve problems and develop new opportunities.

Chris Ashworth, founder of Competitive Advantage Consultancy (, provides strategic marketing services to the construction industry. He is a member of the organising committee for the Chartered Institute of Marketing Construction Industry Group (CIMCIG -


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