Forecasting Future Contracts
As one of the nation’s premier public-safety architectural firms, Stewart-Cooper-Newell Architects (SCN-Architects) of Gastonia, N.C., knows exactly the types of projects it wants to pursue: primarily, police- and fire-department facilities throughout the Southeast and Eastern Seaboard. And given its 40 years in the business, the firm is well-known in its home region for its design work and its track record of success.
For the past five years, SCN-Architects has been using the daily Onvia Guide email report to keep up with the latest government projects in its areas of architectural specialty and target markets. But the Guide covers currently actionable projects and RFP/RFQs; firms like SCN-Architects need to find about projects years in advance, so that they have plenty of time to foster decision-maker relationships before RFPs are issued and to form local partnerships whenever necessary to better compete for the jobs.
SCN-Architects subscribed the Onvia Online Database’s Spending Forecast Center in the summer of 2010 to address its need for business intelligence about upcoming project expenditures. Spending Forecast Center provides access to agencies’ capital improvement plans and annual budgets that represent more than 85% of government spending in all 366 U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas.
“What attracted us to Spending Forecast Center was that it gave us the capability of knowing about projects up to several years before they were to take place,” says Karl Mosbacher, director of business development at SCN-Architects. “That’s a great advantage because it gives you a lot of time to build a relationship with an agency instead of rushing to do that after the RFP or RFQ comes out.
“There’s nothing wrong with sitting down with a city manager or fire chief and asking if they have any projects planned for the next few years, but it makes the conversation more efficient and interesting if I can come to the meeting with that knowledge. I sound less like a door-to-door salesman and more like someone who’s done his homework.”
Spending Forecast Center also helps Mosbacher prospect for future projects in states where his firm hasn’t done a lot of past work. “We have Tennessee as one of our target states,” he says, “but we haven’t marketed a lot there. I use Spending Forecast Center to test the waters in Tennessee and see what projects we might be interested in. If I type 'fire station' into Spending Forecast Center and see that an agency in Tennessee has four new stations planned, that’s a prospect I need to visit.”
Similarly, Mosbacher uses Spending Forecast Center searches to make sure he’s aware of all relevant future projects at his target agencies, not just the projects he already knows about. “It’s helped me develop relationships with a city instead of only a department,” he says. “Let’s say I have a potential client that’s building a new police station. Before I go meet with the police chief, I see what else the city has budgeted for in the coming years. That can give me a reason to meet with, say, the public works director or fire chief or mayor as well while I’m there.”
And if Mosbacher finds a project in Spending Forecast Center that’s a great match for his firm’s expertise but is located outside the firm’s market region, SCN-Architects can contact an architectural firm it knows in the project’s area to discuss partnering with that firm as a consultant on the project.
“Spending Forecast Center is a great tool,” says Mosbacher. “It’s valuable in that it helps us get ahead of the game – and in a lot of cases get ahead of our competition.”