Note: This article is the fourth in a series of six that appeared in the
Canadian Institute for NDE (CINDE) Journal throughout 2012. These articles address valuable business ideas for identifying, understanding, improving, enhancing, expanding, and collaborating NDE services in terms of the elements listed below.
- Introduction / Identifying Services
- Understanding Services
- Improving Services
- Enhancing Services
- Expanding / Collaborating Services
The Fourth Element – Enhancing Services
Enhancing services means both developing what services to provide and how services are provided. In the service business, it is surprisingly easy to confuse what with how, or entirely overlook important aspects of either. As an example of what service to provide, CSA W59, Welded Steel Construction (Metal Arc Welding) specifies that visual inspection be completed on finished welds, but not any other examinations or in-process inspections, which must be invoked by the contract. Specifically, section 7.4 states that “users should consult appropriate technical sources”.
As shown in Table 1, NDE service providers should engage the client before a contract is awarded, for technical consultations to discuss what NDE services need to provide vs. how to provide them.
As an example of how services are provided, clients should rightly expect that services will be available whenever needed, with all the necessary personnel, procedures, equipment, materials, certifications, and other requirements. Clients may not recognize the challenges of maintaining a full roster of certified personnel and equipment 24/7, for any possible service needs. NDE businesses are also challenged with adequately staffing competent multi-disciplined personnel during any seasonal or economic climate, and with a generally aging workforce that faces increasing demands for training and the use of technology.
Job shadowing and on-the-job training (OJT) are effective means for using senior technicians to mentor and train junior technicians or new recruits who want to advance their careers. This teamwork must be clearly presented to the client as an enhanced service however, rather than as an opportunity to simply charge for the use of a two-man crew. A second person can help with equipment, examination, interpretation, and reporting, to reduce the work time frame. They can also act as a safety watch for work that must be conducted in isolated or concealed locations, or outside of normal business hours, such as at a large commercial or industrial site.
It is advantageous to the client for the second person to be charged-out at a lower rate, as a helper or junior technician, or they may even be provided at no-cost according to the circumstances. Ensuring the availability of additional qualified resources who understand the client’s service needs is a long-term benefit for both the client’s and your businesses.
Teamwork may also be used for reporting by using office-based or junior technical staff for that work. This allows senior technicians to focus on the work that they are certified to do and may enjoy most, while others focus on the technical writing and the client’s deliverables, work that they may enjoy doing. Performing NDE in the field on construction and job sites or in factories and fabrication shops requires a very different skill set than with technical writing activities such as image and word processing, data entry and management, AutoCAD, formatting, filing, printing, binding, and issuing reports big or small.
It is also advantageous to the client for report writing to be charged-out at a lower rate. Care must be taken to ensure that the report turnaround time does not increase unreasonably when additional people are used and that peer reviews or sign-offs are completed in a timely fashion.
To achieve business success enhancing services also means focusing on better marketing. Informing clients and potential clients of existing and new services is a challenge for any business. The article “Get Your Story Told!“ on the Business Owner website, states that every business must create awareness; how else do you get your phone to ring? But doing so is tough and advertising is E-X-P-E-N-S-I-V-E.
“Get Your Story Told” explains how a business can get press coverage without hiring a PR firm. Editors are concerned with finding interesting story ideas for their readers. So your job, is simply to help the editors get what they need and want: good, interesting information and stories for their readers. This applies to both the local news media and trade publications, including the CINDE Journal!
Attraction and reverse marketing are other methods that do not require a PR firm. As defined on Wikipedia: “Attraction Marketing is the use of marketing techniques specifically designed to teach the customer what you are doing and how a service or product will benefit them well before they purchase it. Reverse marketing is the same concept as attraction marketing and works on the basis of the Law of Attraction. While marketing mainly deals with finding the right set of customers and targeting them, reverse marketing deals with strategies that make the customer find the company offering the product.”
In his article,”What Is Attraction Marketing”4, Tim Buist states that the concept of attraction marketing is now widely accepted as a systematic approach to deliver valuable content to a targeted audience for the purpose of building trust and credibility, to turn them into loyal customers or business partners.
The term attraction marketing was made popular by the network marketing industry. The main platform of delivery is the Internet, although it is not the only platform. Network marketing has always afforded great opportunities with very low upfront investments, but the industry has been plagued by inherent limitations of using your personal network as your customer and distributor base. Attraction Marketing changes this dynamic, and puts the marketing powers of a Fortune 500 company in the hand of individual network marketers.
When researching these articles on the Internet, surprisingly few good pictures of NDE technicians, techniques, and results were found. Pictures are an excellent attraction marketing resource, which in the words of Napoleon Bonaparte still famously quoted today, are “worth a thousand words”. Digital pictures are now commonplace in technical reporting, so every company should have countless images to use to enhance their marketing efforts and website. Pictures should always be used with permission, and details may have to be kept anonymous to protect the client’s identity, confidentiality, or proprietary information.
Pictures and articles can be submitted to trade blogs and journal for publication consideration. If they are used source attribution and acknowledgment are provided; an advertising bonus for your company! For the greatest advertising effect when using or providing pictures, ensure that your company name or logo is prominently displayed (e.g., badges or decals on hard hats, uniforms, coveralls, and vehicles, or with document watermarks). Ensure that people in the picture are using the proper personnel protective equipment (PPE) (e.g., always wearing safety glasses, hard hats or other PPE appropriate for the work and job site).
This fourth article in the series introduced useful ideas for NDE Service Providers to develop their business through enhanced services and marketing. Whether it is differentiating between the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of providing services, using multi-skilled teams for technical work and reporting, or taking advantage of attraction marketing, they can all improve your marketing approach with a minimum of effort and without any outside help.
Previous articles in this series explored valueable ideas to develop your business through:
- Identifying, understanding and improving services for developing target, flagship, and problem clients.
- Using effective reporting and behavorial influence while establishing common ground.
- Working on instead of working in the business and using check lists so that no important business practice details are forgotten.
The final two parts of this series will share more valueable ideas including appreciative inquiry, professional development, and using online and offline resources which are at your fingertips.
This article was originally published in the Canadian Institute for NDE (CINDE) Journal 2012 Vol. 33 No. 4 and in the CINDE Journal 2012 Special Reprint Issue Vol. 33 Nos. 1 – 6. http://www.cinde.ca/journal/
About the Author
Roy O. Christensen is a Welding Engineering Technologist who has over 35 years’ experience with O&G, pipeline, and other projects. He has authored countless instructions, manuals, plans, proposals, reports, specifications, and other documents that continue to drive success for many projects. He is the founder of the KT Project that saves organizations significant money and time, by providing key resources to leverage expert knowledge transfer for successful project execution.
- Fabricated Column http://www.adfgroup.com/images/fabrication/bow7508a.jpg
- 1-Man Ultrasonic Test (UT) Survey Crew http://djainspection.com/assets/images/Ultrasonic_Thickness_Testing_010.jpg
- Report Writing http://www.askaboutvalidation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/word-processing.jpg
- What is Attraction Marketing? http://www.attractionmarketinginsider.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/What-is-Attraction-Marketing-300×225.jpg
- ”Get Your Story Told!”, The Business Owner website, 2012 http://www.thebusinessowner.com/business-guidance/public-relations/2010/03/get-your-story-told
- Attraction Marketing, Wikipedia website, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attraction_Marketing
- Reverse Marketing, Wikipedia website, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reverse_marketing
- Buist, T., ”What Is Attraction Marketing”, Attraction Marketing Insider website, 2011 http://www.attractionmarketinginsider.com/what-is-attraction-marketing/
- What NDE Services to Provide vs. How to Provide Them