As far as clients go, there’s a hierarchy. There are those who are difficult to handle, don’t pay well, and you need to chase for payments, then there are those who are spotty in their needs, and finally the much-desired reliable client. Companies who give consistently high-quality services are valued and respected by those who hire them. By the same token, clients with repeating needs, long-term contracts, and good communication are in high demand as well.
What many business owners quickly find, is that big corporations with pools of resources and government agencies are a great source of income. They are steady, reliable, and pay on time. However, not every kind of business can be of service to such a client. If you are starting a business with the goal to gain some contracts with a local municipality, you might want to consider the following ideas:
- Engineering and Construction
Municipalities often put out requests for proposals for certain construction projects, like road building or repair, bridge construction, park landscaping, playground installation and more. If you have the experience, certifications, resources, and know-all to be a competitor in this game, it’s time for you to get your team and equipment together and start drafting proposals. It might take a couple of losses before you start winning, however once they discover that you are easy to work with and generate good results, you can count on getting more jobs from them in the future.
- Line Painting
You don’t need to have a steady hand to get into the business of indoor and outdoor parking lines, bicycle lands, implementation of traffic signs, and more. The proper equipment and a municipal contract is all you really need to get going. Cities own quite a few parking lots and structures, and in areas with high volume traffic or harsh weather conditions, this could be something that requires frequent maintenance. With cities trying to encourage active transportation, you will find that bicycle lanes are in high demand. The great thing with line painting is that if work with the municipality is being a bit slow, there are plenty of smaller vendors like plaza owners, institutions like schools and hospitals, or property management groups that will be needing similar services!
I have yet to meet a city that has it’s own catering department, but who knows, maybe it exists in some bigger municipalities. One thing is for sure though, cities put on a lot of events. From department lunches, to roundtables with citizens, it seems like every meeting and event needs some refreshments. From coffee and croissants, to sandwiches, hot lunches, or even dinners, municipalities like drawing from a list of vendors they know, like, and can depend on. However, there are a few ways in which you can capture their attention and make it to the top of their preferred caterers list. From hosting a free tasting, to supporting a charity event at City Hall, there isn’t anything that some research and persistence can’t handle.
- Building Inspection
If you have ever tried to build an addition to your house or even expand your deck, you’ll know something about building permits. Municipalities use them to control the development of cities and to make sure that whatever you plan on doing to your lot is compliant with the zoning and by-laws in place. After their initial approval, many of these structures are visited by an inspector to make sure that it is up to standards. However, due to a shortage in staff and a boom in construction and development, many municipalities are finding that they must outsource building inspection to third-parties since they just can’t keep up. There has never been a better time to get your building inspector license done, especially since many home buyers also hire them to check the state of houses they are looking to purchase.
There are many different tacks you can take to creating a business with the thought of servicing the local municipal government. From constructing splash pads to serving lunch for the heritage committee meeting, it doesn’t take long to see the opportunities that exist for small businesses to have a long-lasting and healthy client relationship with a municipality.