A Tale of Client Acquisition

Tami: “John there’s a message on your desk from a contractor. They are looking for some documents from us from 2007. The GSU job.”

Me (not enthused): “GSU? Hmm. Let me check this out and see what he wants. I’ll call him back when I can get to it. We’ll have to get the archive company to pull the boxes and deliver to the office.”

Next day:

Tami: “John there’s a gentlemen on the line. He’s a glazing subcontractor. He’s calling about the GSU project.”

Me (slightly more interested): “OK. Thanks.”  “Hello, this is John. How may I help you?”

Glazing Sub: “I’m looking for some reference material; some calculations on the GSU project. We are removing 12 lites of glass to make way for a new bridge connection and integration of its new enclosure. The GC said that you had done some work on the project.”

Me(eyebrow raised): “Interesting; Are you doing both the demo/removal and the new cladding for the bridge?”

Glazing sub: “Nope. We are just preparing the opening.”

Me: “Hm. That sounds like a potential coordination issue. That’s a unitized curtain wall on the existing building. What is it that you need?”

Glazing sub: “I need the calculations so I can get them to an engineer to provide some anchor design and sketches for us. I need to know how to hold the remaining wall in place.”

Me: “We are an engineering firm and I was the engineer of record for the job for XXXX (no names) Glass in 2007. Have you secured someone to do the work?”

Glazing sub (future client): “Not really. I mean, I have a guy that can do it, but it’s not 100%.”

Me: “Well would you be interested in working with us? I mean, we do this stuff. I’ll send you our electronic services catalogue. I’ll include my contact information. If you’re interested, and can send me the scope of work, I can review it and see what you need. I’ll let you know what we can do, and I’ll provide a quotation. Does that work for you? What is your email address?”

Glazing Sub (interested); “Yes. That could work. It’s xxxx@xxxx.com. Thanks. Send me your stuff and I’ll send the architectural drawings to you.”

Me: “Where are you all located? ”

Glazing Sub; “Oh, we’re in North Carolina.”

Me: “Really? We have a North Carolina office and business. Do you have a need for these kinds of services on a regular basis?”

GS; “Yes actually, we do. We may need to have you guys in our system. When you forward me your info, I’ll share it with other folks here.”

Me: “Thank you. I’ll send it right over.”

Email is sent, info shared, scope of work document received, cursory reviewed. Next day; new phone call:

Me: “So describe to me again in more detail what you intend to do.”

GS: “We want to anchor above and below at the wall that remains, prior to removing the curtain wall between. We will need to have an anchor at the bottom of the top unit, and the top of the bottom unit.”

Me: “I hear you. Let me do some more digging. I think it would make sense for us to do this work for you if the scope and fee is aligned with your expectation. We know this building and the curtain wall details. Did you include budget for engineering?”

GS: “Yes we did. Any idea what you would charge for something like this?”

Me: “Hmm. Good question. Often times this type of work will be in the $2,500 range, but there is no guarantee. I can better define the fee once I dig into it.”

GS: “John, if you get me a proposal in that fee range I’ll sign it, get you a purchase order, and get you in our system. I’ll have our admin send you our information. In the meantime, we will need a W-9, certificate of insurance, and other information to get you all set-up.”

Me: “Got it. Let me get that in motion on my end.”

The next day, I review the information, pull the drawings and calculations. I know this location exactly; this 6-unit wide “notch” area in a nook of the building. There’s now a bridge intersecting it. The architectural drawings reveal incomplete detail and vague concepts at the wall system that is being removed. As I review, it becomes clear that there is much more time involved than what I outlined on the phone. I place a call.

Me: “Hey Mr. Client, hows it going? Well, there’s much more here than meets the eye and now we’ve both got quite a bit of time invested in this process. The slabs are variable depth across the three units between L5 and L6 that are being removed. The top unit is being removed right at the stack joint. Every anchor is a dead-load anchor at the floor line. The top anchor will now be exposed to the interior of the building since the stack is right in line with the top of slab. If not, there will have to be some type of mullion extension to reach the face of slab. It’ll have to stab up inside the cavity of the vertical mullion if that’s the case. The top of the bottom unit is cut at an intermediate horizontal. The verticals run-through. It’s now gonna hang  three feet below the slab. It might have to be dead-load anchored with a kicker or supplemental piece of steel spanning across the opening because there is nothing there to which we can attach. If it’s steel or a kicker, that will mean post-installed embed plates to the bottom of slab to support the steel and then some kind of knife plate or duplication of the prior anchor to the steel. Plus, the mullions will have to extend through where glass is being removed and project upwards in order to provide an anchor surface to which we can attach. We also have to re-analyze the mullions to get new reactions. Now there are two jambs with different loads as well. All the mullions are two piece assemblies. We have to check stress and deflection of the four vertical mullions remaining across the opening, define the anchor loads, and then sketch anchor concepts. This will be iterative. I can’t do it for the fee I outlined. Is that a going to be an issue?”

GS: ” Well John, I’ll be honest; I’ve got about $6,400 in this engineering budget. Can you keep it around or within that number?”

Me: “Well thanks for sharing that info. That sure makes the conversation much easier. I think I can do it for a little less. I’m in the $5,600 range right now in my tasking. That would leave some margin in the event there’s something unexpected.”

GS: “That works. Get it to me and I’ll have a P.O. in your hands by the end of the day, or 1st thing tomorrow. Can you start immediately?”

Me: “I can start next Monday (three days later) and get an engineer on it full-time.”

GS: “That works. This will be good. We are looking forward to working with you. Glad we made the connection. Thanks for taking care of us.”

Me: “It’s my pleasure. I had no idea you all existed. Shows me that no matter how much I think I know about the market, there’s always a potential client out there that has a need that we know nothing about. I’ll get that proposal to you by the end of the day.”

My take-away?

A simple phone message that I didn’t follow through on right away becomes a new client, a new project, a new relationship, a need to service, a problem to solve, a monetized activity, a collaboration, a possible future together B2B.

So……

Never take anything for granted.

Create a dialogue

Tell a story

Connect the dots

Speak from a platform on knowledge and understanding

Be clear, be concise, listen, understand

Take it one step at a time

Be humble

Enjoy the process

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