The commercial construction market was hurting, and Lifeguard Fire Protection was experiencing the consequences. Sales had begun to decline at the Columbia, S.C., based company, and the horizon appeared bleak as Lifeguard was unsure how to adapt to the uncertain market conditions.
Lifeguard understood it needed a new strategic marketing plan with a good online strategy to best position its organization in 2011. Through the South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (SCMEP), Lifeguard found an able collaborator to help the company chart a better–and more profitable– course. SCMEP is a non-profit, private resource for South Carolina businesses, seeking to drive production and profitability through strategic and quality management planning.
With SCMEP’s assistance, Lifeguard retained fifteen jobs and added eight more in recent months. Most incredibly, Lifeguard has targeted sales to increase by 75 percent or more.
“SCMEP is one of our most valued business partners,” says Lifeguard owner, Kim Patterson. “The strategic market planning and creative services provided by their talented team was instrumental to our growth and success.”
Lifeguard: Proven fire sprinkler system and inspections
Lifeguard Fire Protection was founded in 1987, and is a licensed and bonded woman-owned small business. The company fulfills full-service commercial fire sprinkler production, offering complete design, fabrication, installation, inspection, maintenance, and testing of automatic fire sprinkler systems. Lifeguard covers the state, serving clients from its main office and fabrication facility in the greater Columbia area.
Lifeguard’s staff is comprised of a fire protection team, including designers, estimators, a professional engineer and a NICET certified inspector. The company even teaches and trains local fire departments about the latest innovations in commercial fire sprinkler systems designs. Lifeguard also offers several fire protection specialty services, such as integrated installations and inspections of fire sprinklers, alarms, hood systems, fire extinguishers, fire protection water storage tanks, fire pumps, as well as MIC identification, mitigation, and prevention.
The only ingredient missing? More publicity for Lifeguard’s wide range of services.
SCMEP’s quick cure
SCMEP administered a quick cure, leading the Lifeguard ownership team through a market development process and the conception of a 2011 strategic marketing plan. SCMEP unearthed several new ideas for promotional messages tailored to help the company increase market penetration and expand its line of services and products. The key was finding a way to differentiate its product offering from the competition.
Implementation centered on the launch of an online campaign that included a sleek, new website, search engine optimization (SEO) and the industry’s only customer access area where customers can view account statements and set service reminders. Now, the new website ranks as the first entry in Google-optimized searches for several target keyword phrases. Lifeguard’s Facebook and Linked-In pages also rank at the top of Google’s results.
Several leads have arrived because of the website and implementation of new conversion tactics. Patterson states, “One of our biggest potential projects arrived as a lead from our new website, and our customer satisfaction has increased even further with the new online customer service center.”
Lifeguard is able to bid on more new projects and bank on new customers in several new markets, including Charleston, S.C. SCMEP continues to offer creative and graphics services, “do-it-yourself” marketing training, and coaching to ensure continuity and prolonged marketing success.