Service providers told to focus

PROFESSIONAL service providers in the property and construction industry must choose what type of business they want to target and then stick to it, Bassett Consulting Engineering non-executive chairman Kate Costello told a Property Council luncheon on Friday.

The firm must decide whether to operate at the higher end of the market or offer cheaper services – you cannot do both, Ms Costello said.

“You cannot be all things for all people,” she said.

“It is like saying you are a budget hotel chain and at the same time you are the Ritz Hotel.”

Ms Costello said it did not mean every business had to be involved in the higher end of the market. Some businesses could produce more efficiently at the lower end.

“But it is important that a choice is made which must be stuck to,” she said.

It is important to knock back work when projects do not suit the firm or fit within the image the company is trying to project.

“You have to get gutsy and not be frightened to say no to projects,” she said.

“Try hard not to except risk unless you have to.

“I find these days service providers in the property industry are required to accept risk in a way that was not previously the case.”

She said firms needed to be very entrepreneurial in the future to adopt ways to manage risk.

“We can’t control budgets like we used to, we have to handle risk and we have to be more entrepreneurial,” Ms Costello said.

Another thing firms needed to focus on was ensuring costs were down because it was easy to get “fat” during good times.

“We’ve had some good times over the past few years. And good times mask inefficiency,” she said.

“Good economic times are kind to us because they enable us to not address some of those things, which we should be addressing.

“But we will see a downturn and I think we have got to be ready for it.”

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