After you have established reasons why customers should hire your company, now it’s time to find jobs to bid where you can be successful. Your overall estimating and bidding strategy is to get enough signed contracts at your price to cover your job costs, overhead, and then make a profit. This requires several winning plans. The first strategy is to have a strategy! Many contractors bid any job they are offered to bid. They don’t have a strategy that helps them decide which jobs to bid and when to say no. What’s your estimating and bidding strategy?
Before agreeing to bid a project, create a list of questions to determine if you will have an excellent chance to win the contract.
1. Do you want to negotiate the project?
– How will you convince the customer to negotiate with you?
2. Do you want to be the select or only bidder?
– How will you implement this strategy?
3. Do you want to get the last look?
– How will you make this happen?
4. Do you know your bid-success ratio against your competitors?
– How do you keep track of your success versus competitors?
5. Do you have competitors you don’t want to compete against?
– How will you discover this information?
6. Do you have some competitors you will bid against?
– How will insure the bid list gives you a chance to be awarded a contract?
7. Do you have an ideal number of bidders you’ll bid against?
– How will you insure this happens?
8. Do you have a maximum number of bidders you’ll bid against?
– How will you decide when not to bid a job?
Implement your bidding strategy!
To help you determine which jobs you have the best chance of winning, always pre-qualify your customers. Make it a policy to not waste your time bidding jobs you can’t get or don’t really want. Always insist you have a chance to meet with the decision maker to present your proposal. Interview your customer before the job goes to bid to ask them some tough questions including:
1. Will they negotiate?
2. Number of other bidders?
3. Who have they awarded the last several jobs to?
4. Chances the job will be built?
5. Does the job have funding?
6. Can you present you bid in person?
7. How will the bids be reviewed?
8. Can you get a meeting after your proposal?
9. What is the most important selection criteria?
10. Who makes the final decision?
11. If all else is equal, what are the chances we have to be awarded the job?
The main purpose of every bid is to get a meeting with your potential customer. Think of your bid as bait to get a customer to bite by calling you and ask you to meet and present your proposal in person. Without a meeting, you proposal looks like the others, just a list of items on paper with a price attached to it. In a meeting, you can discuss the inclusions, exclusions, price, and present what your company will do for your customer that your competitor doesn’t offer.
Remember, the purpose of your bid is to entice your customer to meet face to face with you and your project team. At the meeting, your role changes from just another contractor reviewing their bid to a producer of a dynamic presentation that sells the many reasons why they should only consider hiring your company. There are many ways to entice customers to meet with you. Giving them a reason to meet is an most important concept to grasp. Make a list of five reasons customers need to meet with your company after you present your bid. Constantly call them to ask for meetings. Leave messages like these: “Regarding the bid we submitted last week, I have a way we can save you money, finish faster, make your job easier, improve the quality at no extra cost, give you better payment terms, help you with supervision, do more for less, etc.” If you can’t give customers a reason to meet with you, you can only hope your low bid is low enough to win a contract.
Winning contracts at your price is not easy. It takes more work than it used to. Now you must also sell and present your company as the best choice. This takes a restructuring of your time and commitment to excellence. Learn how to upgrade you presentation, improve your proposal, be more aggressive with follow-up, and don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.