The construction bidding process has always been competitive, but since COVID-19 altered our reality and way of doing business, it seems such processes have become even more challenging and competitive. Due to the increased competition and concerns in uncertain times, many contractors have been stepping outside of their comfort zone by going after more accounts to ensure a cushion of backlog.
And while aggressively pursuing new contracts is a positive action, sometimes the need to expand the client portfolio leads to bidding on jobs that may not be a match for the contractors’ direct services or teams’ skills and experience. For this reason, we are taking a moment for a refresher of sorts by looking at three key things to keep in mind when jumping into the bidding process of any potential project:
- Know Your Subcontractors – Most contractors have existing and trusted relationships with a handful of reliable subcontractors. They know their work, and each party has developed an understanding for expectations regarding quality and timelines. That being stated, with the increased demand and uncertainty posed by the pandemic, now would be a good time to check in with subcontractors to make sure they are still operating at the same scale and production rate as pre-pandemic. Are they taking necessary safety precautions with their crews that align with your business practices? Are they double-booking or adding an excessive workload that will slow down job progress? Do they still have the same number of crews available? Basically, find out how they are doing and what has changed (if anything) to their business structure and operations in the last six months. If you are taking on a bid for a new type of project or expanded scope, make sure they have the capacity to meet it. Also, while it should be a given, double and triple check their calculations for their proposal, and eliminate any gaps that may be in the scope.
- Be Realistic – With competition comes competitive pricing, and it is important that you remain realistic on your expenses and how much you can actually shave off of your price, timeline and deliverables. There are many cases when a job just seems too good to pass up, and often contractors will begin compromising their businesses by going as low as possible without staying within the spectrum of reality. The truth is that there are certain fixed expenses that you simply cannot change, and while a low figure may get you the job, making unrealistic promises will most likely lead to a job completed in the red and a potentially unhappy customer.
- Don’t Rely on Technology – Yes, technology is great, but you simply cannot depend on it for all aspects of the bidding process. When using the right technology in the appropriate ways, we can save time and increase productivity. That being stated, using technology in lieu of actually visiting a job site is a major liability. While we have the availability to virtually meet our clients via Zoom and view properties with the assistance of satellite-based technologies, they cannot completely replicate the experience of a site visit. Beyond acquiring accurate measurements, a site visit is required to truly assess the condition of a roof, property or structure. Don’t leave it to the client to determine their own needs, send photos as a replacement for a visit or provide their own measurements for an interior or exterior project, no matter how big or small the job. To produce an accurate estimate and project scope, a job site visit must be scheduled early in the process.
While the above listed areas are just a small piece of the puzzle, they are essential to the bidding process. Sometimes it takes a little reminder to review our procedures, become reacquainted with our subcontractors’ practices and make sure that we are not letting some of the most obvious details fall through the cracks. By maintaining a realistic approach to bids, while providing comprehensive follow-through on the job site and with all parties involved in the project, we can be sure to offer a solid proposal even during the most unstable of times.
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