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Opportunities in education

There is money in education, if you understand your customer’s needs, says Chris Ashworth

It was encouraging that last week’s Construction Newsreport on public sector schools shows there is plenty of expenditure to come on both new and refurbishment construction.

However this report, and the earlier one on healthcare, both highlighted how contractors need to change if they want to meet the requirements of a partnership approach.

Supply chain management came through as an important issue with the use of framework agreements increasing. As one respondent said “That doesn’t just mean big contractors. Sole traders have a place with an organisation like a Local Authority.”

Smaller organisations need to understand how their Local Authority operates and make sure they become part of these framework agreements.

But if you are going to work in these areas you need to think about how you will deal effectively with the big issues of the day; Health and Safety, employment practices and sustainability. These are issues which are key to central and local government, one of the principal issues marketing teaches is understanding your customer.

This does not just mean commissioning market research, it means reading about the issues of the day, and the reports published by Construction News.

What are your customers’ issues and problems? Talk to them, find out what is making their lives difficult or costing a lot of money. Then think how you could help them to solve those problems. If when you talk to your customers and potential customers you can show that you understand their problems and even help to solve them you have already put yourself in a good position to win work.

For example, in the last week we have heard that we can expect to pay a lot more for our energy this winter. Project managers are already concerned at the high proportion of construction costs spent on M&E and the ongoing energy costs these represent. As demands for more sustainable sources of energy increase, as they surely will, companies that understand and can install these systems will be increasingly in demand.

If at the same time they can be recommending designs which are durable and easy to use, they will be able to get involved in projects at an early stage. Make sure you are one of those companies!

Chris Ashworth, founder of Competitive Advantage Consultancy, provides market research and training services to the construction industry. He is a CIMCIG committee member, for further details visit