Jim Graening
NASHUA, N.H. - In order to differentiate themselves, contractors need to develop "differentiation strategies." Those are the words of Jim Graening, director of commercial programs for Building Services Institute (BSI).

"We need to take our businesses from being estimators and quoters and become negotiators," he said.

A company's service delivery, technology, and branded service differentiation strategies should all be utilized, according to Graening.

To start, contractors need to take measures to differentiate themselves during the service delivery. Graening had a few suggestions.

"We should put together a ‘brag book' or a flip chart presentation that we should take to the field," he said, adding that contractors should use technology strategies in order to provide performance-based services. "Some of this technology stuff is cutting edge - ahead of the curve."

Graening gave an example of one technology breakthrough, Aircuity's Optima System, which is used to sample indoor air quality in commercial applications.

"Now we have a way to validate our preventative maintenance programs," he said. "That is huge."

He said that branding strategies in commercial design-build markets are used to achieve reduced project implementation time, obtain lowest possible costs, eliminate risk, and adhere to unique business and technical requirements. "I am constantly looking into new areas of differentiation," said Graening. "You need to look at things that will differentiate you because that is where value is driven."

Not only is it important to have differentiation strategies, but it is equally important to implement them, he said.

"How many of your existing customer base - the decision-makers - have you had a 45-minute meeting with to discuss your capabilities and expertise?" he asked.

Publication date: 05/31/2004