By using public consultation activities as part of your community engagement strategy, you are able to establish meaningful communication with your external stakeholders. Ideas can be shared in person and you can make a plan that reflects the goals of both the community and your client.
Public consultation can be done in many ways and public (information) meetings are just one of these. They all have one thing in common: you engage the public by asking for their opinion, input, and feedback. This, in turn, creates trust, a feeling of togetherness, and solidarity between you as a building company and the people around your site.
Just organising a public consultation event alone is not enough. For that, you need a proper strategy. SitePodium is a great help both for carrying out public consultation as well as for recording the results.
From our experience, we share some effective public consultation strategies for every building company that wants to get local residents and business on their side.
Public consultation: 3 effective strategies for building companies
In our previous article we explained what public consultation is and how you can apply it to build up trust from all stakeholders around your building site. By implementing public consultations, you reduce the number of complaints you receive, you gain valuable insights into what the public thinks and wants and you make your employees happy.
But how do you do this? Which strategies should you use to make a success of the public consultation strategies you put in place during your construction project?
Here you find 3 effective strategies for you to use when you want to consult more and better with the people around your building site.
1. It is never too early to ask for opinions
It is never too early to start consulting the public. We recommend holding an information meeting as soon as you can. You can explain what your project looks like and what the residents can expect the coming months or even years.
By giving the people at your meeting a means to immediately respond to that, you find out what your site needs and what the people around it want. How do they want to be informed of news and milestones? What is their opinion towards (noise) pollution and daily obstructions? You will be surprised to see what ideas they come up with.
Tip: if you really want to make the local residents feel heard, you get them to speak first at your information evening. Show some project pictures, aerial images and design plans and ask the public for their opinion. Then, when it is time for you to speak, you can immediately address the issues and praise the ideas.
2. Be transparent
It might feel a bit strange at first, but by throwing yourself into the deep end by being as transparent as possible, you will encourage your local residents to comment and engage. Say it as it is, instead of trying to patch things up or disguising bad news.
By being transparent you bring an idea, problem, or event into the open before it is too late. You make yourself vulnerable, but at the same time approachable and likable. Problems are solved much easier and faster. Using public consultation in this way, you avoid complaints, invite ideas and will find solutions that everyone is happy with.
Transparent and timely communication also has the advantage that you will avoid residents brooding. Residents who hear of loud work getting planned, but are not getting the opportunity to address this prior it taking place, might worry about that. Maybe someone works nightshifts and is worried about not being able to sleep. Worries may get inflated unnecessarily, if you do not address them immediately.
Use public consultation to explain why the loud work has to be carried out and ask the local residents for their input, ideas, and concerns. Together you can plan it so that most people are happy, even before locals get the chance to brood over things and make them worse in their head than they really are.
3. Use different types of public consultation methods
When thinking about public consultation, a town hall meeting probably first comes to mind. But there are many other ways in which you can encourage local residents to give their input. Organising and holding a meeting is complicated and time-consuming, but an electronic questionnaire is not.
If you want to funnel public engagement to one easy to manage place, then you can open a visitors’ lounge where people can drop in during times you dictate. Place a stall in the square every Friday morning so you can interview residents and shop holders and invite them to give feedback.
By using several methods of public consultation, you are able to ask the opinion of local residents about small matters. An online questionnaire is easily made and with SitePodium you can even raise a simple poll in your news feed. Do not forget: even a ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ to your announcement on SitePodium is a form of public consultation and engagement.
Are you wondering when best to close off the water for works on the pipes? Do not try to find the answer yourself, but ask your community!
Tip: why not take it a step further? Visit local schools, sports clubs, and the community centre to get kids involved and interested in the building industry. That way you even engage the smallest community members.
Why community engagement matters
This might all seem like a lot of work. We at SitePodium are here to help you with our platform and with advice. We do have a lot of experience with public consultation in building projects and we have seen the effort paying off multiple times.
What do you gain from consulting the public? Is it not much easier to just carry out your building project and move on to the next? You will never see the local residents again, right?
The list below shows you why community engagement matters and why you want your local residents on your side.
- You will be fully in tune with the current developments in terms of community engagement and independent bodies like The Considerate Constructors’ Scheme will notice you.
- You will receive fewer complaints and get a good idea of what the public wants and needs when you are building in their midst.
- Collect data with SitePodium and present the results of your public consultation activities at your next pitch for tender. Potential clients love this.
- Public consultation allows you to create a building plan that everyone approves of. Those taking part in your public consultations have had their say, so the plan is a joint venture.
- Everything you learned from engaging the local residents in this project will make all your future projects even better.
Public consultation as marketing tool for your building company
On top of these examples, public consultation is also a very powerful marketing tool. Your employees will be happy to work for you and recommend you. The local residents and businesses are positive about what you did for/with them and will do the same.
With SitePodium public consultation does not have to be difficult. We offer a recognisable platform with a news feed, where you can post information, updates, milestones, and other notifications. We can customise the app to your needs, demands, and corporate identity.
Op top of that there is the reporting section where you see the results of your community engagement efforts in black and white. Pull out reports and make an impression.