"It really helped to have a third party to look over our shoulder, give us feedback and help move things along. As a small business owner it's not always easy to do on your own" Founded in 2003, ProForce, LLC is a Gulf Coast leader in storm response cleanup programs for utility companies. Since its founding, the company has responded to five hurricanes, six tornadoes and two ice storms. ProForce's reputation and sales have grown over the years, but owner Mike Tilly said they eventually had to expand beyond their niche to grow their business. "Storms don't happen every day, so we needed help with creating a strategy to market our services and expand our market," said Tilly. Tilly approached the Louisiana Small Business Development Center at Southeastern Louisiana University in 2010. LSBDC Sales Consultant Scott Uffman offered to help design a sales and marketing plan to target new markets.
They started by carefully selecting smaller companies that needed niche services and identified a list of thirty candidates that fit the bill. With the assistance of the LSBDC, ProForce then went through the list and created a custom marketing package for each company. Tilly would call the companies then tailor his pitch to demonstrate exactly how they could meet that prospective client's needs.
For some that was construction site preparation, for others it was first responder management of downed transformers. Each part of the plan called for perfect customization of pitches and proposals that were geared to a particular company. "We just started making contact and went through the milestones of face-to-face meetings, documentation for the bids, putting in a bid and then winning the contract," said Tilly. By honing the list and focusing on just the right companies, ProForce was able to enter a less competitive market that increased the success rate on bids. Instead of bidding on jobs against ten to fifteen competitors, they were now bidding on more projects where they were only one of two or three.
The plan worked and over the course of two months ProForce was able to land 5 new clients that eventually brought in an additional $1.2 million in revenue. The company has since added ten new jobs, five of which Tilly believes are permanent. He said that while many small businesses have great marketing ideas, owners often struggle to implement them because they are so bogged down with other tasks. The LSBDC took that hassle out of the equation. "It really helped to have a third party to look over our shoulder, give us feedback and help move things along. As a small business owner it's not always easy to do on your own," he said.