Anything that breaks ground, from roadways to vertical structures, needs a team of construction professionals to get the job done. For a construction project to move forward it starts with a land developer or a land owner. The owner or developer will then bring on various professionals such as project managers, land-use developers, realtors, and engineers to create preliminary plans and determine feasibility from a legal, geographical, and financial standpoint. Once the first step is done, architects create the blueprints which are then rendered by a team of general contractors and subcontractors.
These building contractors that vary in trade type are located all across the United States and occupy both local and national markets, forming an interconnected web of construction professionals. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in January 2016 alone there was an estimated $1.1 billion in construction spending. This makes the construction industry a serious stakeholder in the American economy. With so many major players in the construction industry and a vast need for multiple construction specialties on every project, there are several methods to connect contractors with construction jobs; one of those methods is plan room services.
Plan rooms are platforms provided by construction industry organizations or service providers for building contractors and product vendors to gather information for jobs. Plan rooms offer a variety of services including access to building plans, project status, and most importantly information for bidding. Some plan rooms are managed by municipal outlets, while others are privatized corporations that offer the services through a paid subscription. Despite the availability of plan rooms, the construction industry follows the same motto as most businesses – it is about who you know. Many building contractors find work through referrals as well as invitations to bid on projects. Relationship building and networking is a strong force within the construction industry when it comes to finding work. To find out exactly how building contractors are finding jobs to bid on, qSample conducted a survey with our Building Contractor Panel.
We surveyed over a 150 building contractors from a variety of trades including: general contracting, electrical, carpentry, and roofing just to name a few. Over 75% of the respondent work with small companies that had no more than 10 employees. About 94% of respondents do not subscribed to a plan room service and 50% of those respondents indicated that they would not consider a subscription or have subscribed before and did not like the service. The building contractors also were asked the reason behind not subscribing to a plan room service; majority of contractors felt they find enough work without the plan room services (37%) or considered the cost (20%) as a factor. Another poignant data point that resulted from the survey was 27% of the respondents were unfamiliar with plan room services. This percentage speaks to a lack of brand awareness when it comes to branding efforts for subscription based plan rooms services.
Although there were very few respondents who indicated that they use plan room services, the respondents who do subscribe provided their opinions. The respondents were asked to rank their level of satisfaction with the availability of project information, bidding projects,and cost of service, which was scored a 3.8 out of 5 on the scale. The building contractors’ overall rating for the services was fairly divided between neutral (34%), satisfied (33%) and very satisfied (29%). The building contractors also indicated that the most attractive features in choosing a plan room service are the direct contact information for the bidding parties, availability of plans and specifications, and bidding privileges within the contractor’s local region.
Whether the building contractors are plan room subscribers or not they are using networking to find bidding projects. Over 60% of the building contractors who subscribed to plan room services indicated referrals and bid invitations as another source to find projects. For building contractors that are not subscribers but bidding on up to 20 projects per a quarter, invited bids and referrals were where most of their project leads stemmed from. So clearly, building relationships within the network of construction professionals earns contractors a seat at the table when it is time to bid. Construction plan room services need to develop marketing strategies to attract subscribers and ultimately develop loyal relationships with their customer. This could be done by investing in market research on building contractor’s bidding behaviors and implementing the finding within their platforms.
For more information about this survey or to learn more about qSample’s Builder Panel, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org