One of my favorite scenes from the 1995 filmBravehearttakes place on the battlefield before the hand-to-hand combat takes place. In a rousing speech, Scotsman William Wallace challenges his troops to stay and fight. His words whip them into a frenzy.

But as the British forces advance, Wallace cautions his fighters with the words “hold…hold…hold” with increasing intensity. Every time I watch this scene, I am on the edge of my seat with tension. I want to shout, “You’re waiting too long.”

But then, finally, Wallace releases his undermanned forces. They go on to win the battle decisively and turn the tide.

Lately, the construction and maintenance markets have produced a similar tension, with owners, presidents, and managers all saying, “hold…hold…hold” even though their staffs are ready to engage.

They are waiting for the right moment to make investments, buy products, increase marketing and release their troops to do battle.

In the last two weeks, I’ve visited three large trade shows in three distinctive markets. I’m pleased to report a consistent mood of optimism. From manufacturers to distributors to contractors to engineers, almost all say they think 2010 will be measurably better than 2009.

Of course, they could be lying.

If so, I sure don’t want to play poker with any of them because they have me believing we are getting close to a modest turnaround.

Unfortunately, mixed with their optimism is the caution of a savvy hunter, patiently (OK, some are anxious) waiting for the prey to come into focus. With a keen eye studying the landscape, they are looking for the right moment to pull the trigger.

Most of you reading this blog probably feel the same way. You are poised to pull the trigger on your business, but you are looking for that one missing element…

Customers (yes that’s plural).

Maybe, just possibly, there’s a way to bring the customers to you. It would sure help to have a coach who understands the construction/service field, someone who had been through past downturns and knows how to make the phone ring.

Fortunately for you, there are pros who can help you grow your business now, despite the recession.

Business development experts Al Levi and Ellen Rohr, two seasoned pros who ran successful contracting operations, have turned to lives of inspiration. They spend much of their days coaching and inspiring construction and service business owners on how to excel in any market condition.

You may have seen their columns and blogs in several BNP Media trade magazines and Web sites. They’ve cultivated a legion of dedicated fans throughout the trades, including plumbing, HVAC, roofing, cleaning, carpentry, electrical, and remodeling.

Here are just three of the customer-generating techniques Al and Ellyn are teaching.

Laser-focused, testimonial-based direct marketing.With as few as 100 postcards, you could generate tens of thousands of dollars in sales. They know who to send to and what to say, and they are sharing.

Friendly e-marketing.Be the first in your market to really "get it." Your customers are well served to stay in touch with you electronically. Al and Ellen share how to get an e-marketing strategy up, running and working.

Simple, win-win-win acquisition marketing.  Big companies got big using this technique, which can be deceptively easy and affordable.

Starting March 16, Al and Ellen are sharing how these and other “market drivers” that will get your phone ringing. Using telephone seminars and one-on-one coaching, they will walk you through how to gauge when to strategically implement these techniques for your business

If your business is “locked and loaded”, and you are tired of holding, get in touch with Al by visiting Or, contact Al at al@appleseedbusiness or visit his Web site,