Imagine this: Last year, you spent 15 percent of your time and resources on the industrial sector and made a healthy profit. Way to go! This year, you plan on putting a little more into industrial, to the tune of 20 percent. You’re already putting drafts together to congratulate everyone on their future raises.
But pump the breaks. Did you know that this coming year one industrial client is aiming to relocate, two others are scaling back, and tariffs planned by legislators will drive up your client’s prices?
Thankfully, this is just a hypothetical. Whew. But if you perform market research, there’s no need to fear this situation because you’ll have done the predictive work and will already know where to put your efforts toward a successful future.
How does someone start with AEC industry market research? It’s all about your sources – and there are lots of options.
Ask Your Clients
Begin with primary research – research you perform yourself – to get the scoop on how to proceed with your business’ strategy. Clients are a fount of useful information, and their business is a direct facilitator for your business. Where do they see their industry going in the next few years? What keeps them awake at night?
You can also ask your clients to do a perception survey on how they see your business. Where do they see your strengths? Weaknesses? Learning about how you appear to your clients can help you make the right changes to rectify any issues.
Talk to Staff
Some other interesting primary sources exist. Have any employees that used to work for a different company? What did they do there? What were their plans moving forward? Use that information to analyze the competition and where they sit in relation to your company.
Exchange Insights with a Vendor
What about vendors? Various vendors will have purchasing information about your company, your competition, and/or your clients. Are their prices rising? Are people buying more or less than they have in the past? Any source, even a vendor, can be useful.
Search the Internet
Supplement your primary research with things like the Internet. The source of the most information on the planet should have at least something for your market research, right? Of course! One tip for gaining necessary information before your big planning meeting: Set up Google Alerts for keywords that relate to your business and be dialed in on news stories local and nationwide.
Alternatively, think about associations like your state’s League of Cities and Towns, school board associations, or facilities management associations. These client-oriented associations will have a lot of industry knowledge. Review their publications or start a dialogue: What are they seeing overall in the industry? Trends?
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Any source can be useful. Put the work in and use your business network to get started on market research. When your strategy session comes rolling around, you’ll be glad you did.