Fraser Kirk is the Marketing and Communications Director for United Capital, a UK construction sector investment organisation. Fraser is responsible for all communication activity for United Capital and their wholly owned group businesses, McGill and Alliance Electrical, as well as a number of affiliate companies.

The UK construction sector has never been particularly quick to adopt certain new technology or challenge the status quo, especially when it comes to communications and marketing. Despite the sector investing heavily in operational efficiencies, workforce training and plant & equipment, the “fluffy stuff” has been neglected. This presents a huge opportunity to get ahead of the competition.

What is employee advocacy?

Employee advocacy may be a relatively new phrase and initiatives to facilitate are becoming more common in workplaces, but the concept isn’t new. Employee advocacy is simply the promotion of the organisation by its workforce. Where employees share information about the company and its culture both on and offline. Whilst most companies, including in the construction sector, have invested in branding, PR and social media, most have yet to consider employee advocacy despite its proven value.

Here’s the interesting bit…your employees are more effective at spreading the company news than your business channels! Take a minute to consider that. Think about how much you have invested into developing you company communications channels; Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, that expensive re-development of your website, that time that marketing team convinced you Tiktok was a good idea! Your employees are a valuable and under-utilised marketing resource.

Companies with engaged employees outperform those without by 202%

It’s pretty standard stuff that you want to engage your people and that when they are, company productivity would improve. There is a difference between engaged employees and those whom advocate for the company, though it is impossible to have the latter without the former.

Employee advocacy is especially interesting in the UK construction sector when we consider the fact that the sector is (obviously!) labour intensive and that company communications channels like social media, typically, don’t have many followers.

Employees are connected to at least 10x more people than the company

Company messages reach 561% further when shared by employees vs. company accounts

Company messages are shared 24x more frequently when distributed by employees vs. the company.

So what?

It’s a valid question, and like all other marketing you need to know what you are trying to achieve before you start. For smaller contractors maximising exposure of the company across your local region might be important, and your marketing budget might be small, or zero! Employee advocacy isn’t costly and it is significantly more effective than many traditional forms of marketing. It is also a great way to recruit, something the industry struggles with.

How do I start an employee advocacy programme?

Firstly, don’t call it that…you will lose the attention of most of your team immediately. A few facts you should know;

About 50% of employees voluntarily share company content

So it isn’t really about starting a programme rather you should think about the type of content that you make available for your employees to share. What do you want them to share, and remember their networks might have a different audience to the company so simply copying content isn’t always the best idea. Consider where your employees will get the content you want them to share, it is reported that

only 2-8% of employee social networks overlap with your company

Many employees in the construction sector will not be on LinkedIn so you may need to look at what channels you use.

Why aren’t they sharing our content already?

The most honest answer is probably the one you don’t want to hear…because they can’t be bothered, or that it isn’t their job. However stats show that there are other reasons:

21.6% don’t know if the company wants them to share the content

16.4% feel they don’t have time to share

15.7% don’t know what to share

15.6% are worried about sharing the wrong thing

Having a chat to your teams can address these quickly and will encourage more employees to advocate for the business. Do you have a company e-newsletter that goes out to your teams? Let them know what to do…most people want to help!

Does this only work online?

Absolutely not!

Many companies are forgetting the basics. Even calling this employee advocacy puts people off, it is simply encouraging your people to tell others about the company. Have a think about your business, and your employees. Where are they having conversations? In the tea room? On the bus? In the gym? At the shops? By keeping your teams informed of what is happening in your business you are curating these conversations and helping your employees contribute to the marketing of the company.

Keep it simple!

  • Think about what you want shared
  • Keep your people informed by telling them about company news and developments
  • Let employees know they can help by sharing company news
  • Show appreciation to the team for helping

Employee advocacy can help spread your company news further and more efficiently than traditional company channels. Communications is not a strong point of the UK construction sector with investment often directed elsewhere, so this is an effective and cheap way to get ahead.

Our company directors regularly speak at academic and business events. These talks are normally about their background and telling our story of how we do business. Although our top team’s backgrounds may be varied, there is one bit of advice that always features…be careful who you listen to.

The World has always had gurus, those individuals revered above others…though, these days it seems to be a self-given moniker rather than a title that has been earned, or deserved. In the words of world-renowned high performance coach, Tony Robbins, we are not your guru, but we have got significant experience running and growing successful businesses, experiences that have formed the way we do business…and that is all we ever offer…our story of what works for us, what happens next is up to you.

Our number 1 bit of advice is as important in life as it is in business, be careful who you listen to and take advice from. The Coronavirus pandemic has un-earthed many “experts”, people who share articles from their news feed without any due diligence to question the information or its sources. Remember the conflicting news from seemingly reputable sources about whether or not to take Ibuprofen if you were experiencing symptoms of Coronavirus, or the story about drinking warm water every 15 minutes…it’s all rubbish, worse than that, it’s dangerous!

In these unique times, we will rely on the information shared directly by the Government and associated agencies and will continue to apply sound common sense, which also appears to be lacking at present. Don’t forget the basics. Keep your customers informed, keep your people informed, take the necessary precautions but focus on your own business and what you can do to ensure it survives

Govanhill Housing Association have appointed fast-growing Scottish all-trades contractors, McGill to its £20million major repairs framework.

The framework, which will see McGill extend its long-established relationship with the Association for at least the next four years, includes internal refurbishment of flats, replacement of windows, kitchens and bathrooms plus common repairs to external walls and roofs.

McGill, having delivered a number of successful contracts with Govanhill Housing Association over the past few years, will continue to manage the contract from their local Govanhill depot.

McGill Managing Director, Douglas Thomson commented; “We are delighted to have been appointed to this new framework. Govanhill Housing Association is an important client for McGill and we are excited to be extending our working relationship for at least another four years. What the Association has achieved in the Govanhill area is exceptional, and we are proud to play our part.

Govanhill Housing Association and McGill have a long-standing relationship having completed a number of multi-million-pound contracts, similar to this new one. In August 2019 McGill re-opened its Govanhill depot after being awarded a £2.6million contract with the housing association.

Chris Ferriday, Operations Director at McGill added; “We have a great relationship with the team at Govanhill Housing Association and have delivered important work together. As part of these contracts we have not only been able to recruit locally and provide much needed jobs within the Govanhill area, but we have also been able to support a number of the association’s community projects. Our team and I are looking forward to continuing our relationship.”

Further information is available at Follow McGill on LinkedIn or Facebook

About McGill

McGill are a Scottish building services contractor serving clients in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors across the country. McGill specialise in delivering large-scale public sector contracts for local authorities and housing associations. They have significant experience and expertise in all types of planned and reactive maintenance contracts, void properties, facilities management for commercial and public buildings and also new-build and refurbishment projects on both a large and smaller scale.

Despite entering administration in February 2019, the company has re-established itself and is growing quickly since being acquired by UK building sector investment group, United Capital.

United Capital, the investment company specialising in consolidating the fragmented UK construction sector, has today announced that its acquisition pipeline has surpassed £350million, in revenue terms, as more business owners seek an exit strategy in response to the global spread of Coronavirus.

The UK construction sector, like many others, has been badly affected by COVID-19, with all but essential building projects put on hold and sites closed. With reports suggest a downturn of up to 40% across the sector, consolidation is expected to become more common. Despite the measures put in place by the Government, many companies are reporting issues accessing loans, with some suggesting they may not be able to survive the crisis. 

Last year United Capital completed the acquisition of McGill, a former Scotland Top 500 company after it entered administration in February 2019, and Alliance Electrical, an Angus-based electrical services company. United Capital bosses announced ambitious plans to acquire UK-based building services and facilities management companies with a collective turnover of £100million in 2020, and during these unprecedented trading conditions, their deal pipeline continues to grow.

United Capital CEO Graeme Carling commented; “When we announced our targets in December 2019, we never could have envisaged the current situation. We have adapted quickly and are seeing opportunities where they didn’t exist before. Companies that were not considering an exit when we spoke to them earlier in the year are now chasing us, the market has shifted. We are actively engaged with several businesses at advanced legal stages and progress is being made every day. The current “lock-down” is slowing progress down, but deals are still being done. Our experienced team remain active and new opportunities are presenting themselves daily.”

United Capital target well-managed building services and facilities management companies operating in the UK with a turnover of £10million – £40million. The company report that although the business community is obviously worried, many are choosing to remain active and prepare for the future.

Graeme Carling continues; “Most businesses simply do not have the resources to sit back and weather the storm, they need to find solutions, and quickly. The majority of business owners we speak to who are considering selling to us, are either nearing, or of retirement age. These are people who have put everything into their businesses over many years and due to the impact of Coronavirus, are short on options. United Capital can provide an option for business owners looking for an exit and we invite them to get in touch directly. The reality of this situation is that every single company in the country has been affected and many will not be able to survive”

About United Capital

United Capital is an investment group which is consolidating the fragmented UK building services and facilities management sector by acquiring well-performing, profitable companies, operating in the sector, who have a strong management team and clear growth strategies.

United Capital, through an established network of agents, brokers and solid marketing, identify and target companies operating in our target sector. Our strict criteria targets companies which are consistently delivering annual turnover of £10million – £40million, achieve strong profit levels and are currently delivering large-scale public-sector contracts for Government, NHS, MoD, Local Council Authorities and Housing Associations.

Further information is available at Follow United Capital on LinkedIn or YouTube

Local building services firm Alliance Electrical, inspired by the hard-work and dedication of the NHS, have offered the services of their Plumbing & Heating engineers free of charge to any NHS employee requiring emergency works to their heating or boilers, during the Covid-19 crisis.

To show their appreciation any emergency boiler and heating work undertaken by Alliance for all NHS employees will be free of any labour charge for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis and any non-emergency works for NHS employees will be prioritised and offered at a discounted rate.

Managing Director, Errol Lawrie stated that the company, which continues to deliver emergency repair works for its customers across Tayside, Angus and Fife, is prepared to do what it can to support front line staff during these unprecedented times.

“The whole situation has been pretty humbling to be honest. Although we took the situation seriously, like most others, we never expected it to get this bad. Whilst some of our team are able to continue working from home, the situation has effected most of our site-based jobs. After speaking to our guys, we want to offer something back to those working in the NHS. The team and I wanted to play our part and we are glad to be in a position to offer some support.”

Any NHS employees who find themselves in need of emergency works to their boiler or heating systems should contact Alliance on their normal office number, which is available on their website.