We are all hoping that happy days have returned to stay. Most of you know me as the editor of this newsletter, but my primary role is Business Development Director. And in that capacity, I was most excited that NTI reached new heights in 2014.
While one record year does not guarantee that good times shall continue, reviewing our overall activity since the great recession arrived does suggest that the storm has passed.
By the 2nd Quarter of 2008, we were seeing evidence of a slowdown, and hearing about the coming financial cliff. Our company reached ‘the cliff’ during last quarter of 2008. Even so, we booked more business in 2008 than we had in 2007, no small feat considering 2007 had been our best year ever.
Enter 2009. Seemingly overnight, as a small family oriented company, our objective became to work hard and keep our team together, knowing we would need the same team when the business returned. What we didn’t know was how long that would take.
From the start of the year we were struggling to find business as the overall commercial development in most business sectors was rapidly shrinking… 60% or more in some markets. Thankfully, we managed far better than the overall market statistics, and ended the year hoping this was a one year setback. We looked forward to rebounding in 2010.
We did improve in 2010, however it was not the rebound for which we had hoped. Activity was only sputtering back to life. We received more RFPs than in 2009, but all too often a project would loose funding (or it’s potential funding) within days or weeks after having delivered a proposal for our services.
Two of our best markets, hospitality and municipal governments were hit particularly hard. Hospitality was first, then as the recession reduced state and local government revenues, the government sector followed. We were encouraged that we ended 2010 better than 2009 as we again looked forward to a better next year.
As many others did, we were seeking out projects in multiple markets at once, seeking those which were funded. The result for us was that historic renovations and adaptive reuse projects became a far larger percentage of our overall business in 2011 and 2012. The rising number of projects associated with existing structures helped us make up for the largely absent new build market, at least in part.
By 2013, we began to believe that happy days had returned. RFPs for new build projects were growing, as was the activity among our existing client base. We ended 2013 confident that 2014 was going to be a good year.
We saw another indication of the market coming back from something referred to as a “bounce rate”. A bounce rate with regard to a newsletter is a percentage of e-mail addresses which are undeliverable because the e-mail address is no longer valid. The NTI newsletter is delivered exclusively via e-mail to people whose livelihood is dependent on new and/or renovated commercial construction. From January 2009 to June 2013, the bounce rate (%) for each newsletter ranged from a low of 13% to a high of over 19%. After July 2013, the bounce rate for our newsletter dropped to under 9%. We expect it to be lower for this newsletter. And the number of leads from our collective lead sources has grown.
By mid 2014, multiple markets were showing signs of coming back. We began hearing from men and women from whom we had not heard from in years. NTI ended 2014 setting a new record for bringing in business. Still, we are keenly aware that our success is due to our clients so as we have done now for 17 years, we continue to be committed to making certain that each of our clients, whether on a first project or a 51st, will want to hire us again once opening day has come and gone.
As you read this, business seems to be working again as it did prior to 2009. A returning market with sustained health suggested happy days have returned.
NTI concluded the first quarter of 2015 strong, with an opportunity to repeat a banner year. The market is again active, and our clients are again busy, which means for our small company… we are growing again.
So yes, we believe happy days are here again. And here to stay, we hope for many years to come.
by John Davis
Business Development Director