These seem to be uncertain times with uneven market movement that appears to depend solely on what the government and economists report from day to day. But you need to keep your company working and the only way to do that is to win bids.
Finding the right projects to bid on is just the first step. The bidding process itself can get complicated by clients, subcontractors, and other parties with an interest in the project. The winner will be the one who only meets every requirement of the bid contract. The winning company will also know how to differentiate itself from its competitors, show how it adds value, and follow up rather than let the bid sit in the slush pile.
In order to bid on enough projects to create steady work while providing a quality bid, you must find ways to streamline your bidding process. Here are a few of the most common areas to gain efficiencies.
Finding Projects Up For Bid
An effective network can highlight projects before the bid is announced. However, if your network is dry, It isn’t enough to look to newspapers for print announcements; increasingly bid announcements are found online. The law still requires federal, state, and local governments to post bid requests for an extended time in relevant public newspapers and industrial publications but you will find leads faster through construction bid lead services. (Search Google for this phrase if you are not familiar with any.)
These are subscription services. Unless you are familiar with the service or it comes highly recommended by a knowledgeable partner sign up for a trial before committing to a subscription. Check references as well; ask how the service worked out for them.
For each service you select make sure the coverage area is relevant to you and that you understand the fee structure. Here are some examples of popular construction bid lead sites:
- Dodge Reports (http://construction.com/dodge/) from McGraw Hill Construction
- Reed Construction Data (http://www.reedconstructiondata.com/)
- ConstructionWire and Bid Notice from BuildCentral (http://www.constructionwire.com/)
- BidClerk (https://www.bidclerk.com/)
- Set Aside Alerts (http://www.setasidealert.com/) for woman-, minority-,or veteran-owned businesses
Look for projects and services through industry websites as well as state and national government procurement sites.
Create a Winning Bid
The bid is where you not only sell your services to the client; it is an opportunity to show your added value. In the bid proper or technical proposal be specific about how your company is better than others with a clear line between your value-added service and the client’s needs.
Determine the exact nature and extent of the project as you research. This tells you if this project is the best investment of your time and if you can truly compete in that sphere. Focus on bidding projects that fit best within your abilities and portfolio so you can perform to a high standard and win repeat work.
Winning the bid also calls for an accurate estimation. Underbidding then relying on change orders is not a good way to go. Either the client agrees to the change order (and becomes irritated in the process) or the client does not agree, in which case you might resort to cheaper materials (which may break a contract).
An experienced bidder and/or the right bid software can help you create a fair bid. Bidding software often comes with estimation calculators, customer and supplier databases, job tracking, and change order capabilities. Some are compatible with Microsoft Project, QuickBooks, and other office software.
Submit a Responsive Bid
Some bid invitations seem to come with traps that can cause your bid to go on the reject pile without further consideration. Identify all mandatory or essential requirements and put them on a checklist to use before submitting the bid.
- Make sure all vendors and subs submit the right type of form.
- Don’t rely on a sample form from the client for the requirements; use the actual bid forms and riders.
- Don’t ignore any mandatory requirement as being unimportant.
- There is a limit on correcting mistakes or basing a withdrawal on a mistake. The mistake must be clearly and convincingly inadvertent and be of a clerical or arithmetical nature, an omission of pricing, or errors in transfer of numbers from one document to another.
A bid may be the first experience a client has in working with you. Make the bid process professional and efficient to impress the client and to win the right projects to keep you in business.