7 Tips on selling your construction bid and winning more work
Creating bids in construction is how work is won…..or is it? Do you ever feel like bidding is a waste of time because you are not getting the jobs? For 99% of the construction companies, we don’t get paid for doing estimates. These are done at no cost or commitment to the customer whether that’s a homeowner or a general contractor.
If we don’t get paid for creating bids and we spend all that time putting them together, why do we simply send them off in an email, check it off our to-do list and never look back? Mostly because we are too busy to follow up and go after that work.
In this blog post, we’ll explore how a few simple things can greatly increase the number of bids you win and allow you to justify all that time you spend creating bids.
Do you track your win rate? If you send out ten bids, what % of those do you typically win? If you are not sure, it may be time to go back and take a look. The goal is to win more bids so that you have enough work to pick and choose the projects you want.
How to sell your bid and win more work
I don’t like to sell. In fact, I would even say that I hate selling. Selling sounds pushy and obnoxious and that’s just not me. The truth is, selling doesn’t have to be that way. I have had to re-train myself to understand that selling is simply the process of explaining clearly what your company can provide to accomplish the goal of the project. You are just providing information that the client is asking for. So if you don’t like selling, don’t worry, the tips listed below are easy and don’t turn you into a used car salesperson.
Here are some tips on how to increase your chances of winning more work that you bid and boosting your win rate.
1. Send a complete and detailed bid
When you send a bid to a customer or general contractor (if you are a subcontractor) it’s always better to send a detailed bid that breaks out the scope of work and lists all the inclusions and exclusions. When you put in the work to create a detailed bid, you are demonstrating that you put the time in to understand the scope and it shows that you want the job. When you send a simple undetailed bid, it looks like you are too busy and didn’t have time to dive into the project. Your bid becomes unreliable to the customer or GC and chances are you will be taken out of the running for the project. As a GC, nothing is more frustrating than waiting for your favorite subcontractor to send in a price and you get it and it’s a budget number when you need a detailed hard bid.
2. Request a confirmation of receipt
Too many bids get sent off into the black hole never to be heard about again. It never feels good to spend all that time estimating and writing up the bid just to hit send on the email and never hear back even if the client or GC received it. When you send your bid, make sure you request confirmation that it was received. It’s only fair to request this and it’s easy for the recipient to reply back and say…”thanks…received”. This starts the communication about the project which is the first step.
3. Request an opportunity to go over it in person or online
When sending your bid via email (how most bids are sent these days), put in the email that you would like the opportunity to go over it with the recipient. This would happen in person ideally but a phone call or zoom meeting are also good options. If you can get them to give you some face time, it will allow you to explain how you put your bid together. Furthermore, it gives you the opportunity to show how much effort you put in and build a relationship with the client. Lastly, it gives you a chance to ask in person how the bid looks compared to others. This is valuable feedback on how you did. In construction, relationships and trust are incredibly important to winning work. If the customer doesn’t know you well, it becomes almost a must to get some one-on-one time to build that basic human relationship.
4. Show that you put effort into the bid
What did you do to get to your number? Did you do a detailed take off? Did you get vendors to quote materials? Did you ask suppliers for alternate materials or fixtures to save money? Can you include a digital markup of the scope? Make sure you list out in your bid email the effort that went into putting it together. If it was a team effort to get this bid done, let them know. The client will never know how much work went into creating your bid if you don’t tell them.
5. Express that you want the job (unless you don't)
If you want the project, make sure you let the client or GC know. They are much more likely to work with a contractor that is eager for the work. Interest in the job shows a level of commitment and willingness to work together. In your email with your bid, write that you are very interested in the project and you are willing to look at alternates or value engineering if needed to make the numbers work. This is music to a client’s ears because they want a team player that is willing to work with them. You have to be a little careful as to not sound desperate…..you don’t want the client to think they can take advantage and ask for a discount. You simply want to let them know “This is a nice project and we are very interested in working with you to make it a success”.
6. Avoid "saying no with money", instead, just politely decline to bid
If you are busy and you really don’t need or want the project, be careful. Too many companies say “NO” with high prices. If you never want to see that customer or GC again, then fine….go for it. If you want to keep that relationship intact, then just be honest. “I'm sorry but we are booked solid and we are not able to bid that project right now” This alternate way of saying NO is so much better. First, it allows the customer or GC to get another number and not rely on your bogus high price. Second, it makes them go “wow, this contractor is doing really well, they must be good and I hope I can work with them when they get less busy”. Trust me, I’ve been a GC for over 17 years and when subs are too busy, it’s amazing how you want to work with them even more.
7. Ask for bid results
Most clients and GC won’t give you bid results unless you ask. It’s critical to ask this question because it allows you to plan better and bid better in the future. The worst is not knowing because then you have no ability to adjust or learn from it. We know we are not going to win every time but if we can learn every time, that becomes a small win in itself.
Creating estimates and bids in construction is a time consuming process that sometimes feels like a waste of time. Since we know we have to bid on jobs to get them, why not improve your chances by following the 7 tips to increase your chances.
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