"Winning is not a sometime thing…it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while. You don’t do the right thing once in a while. You do the right thing all the time. Winning is a habit.” — Vince Lombardi
The tough-minded approach of what it takes to be successful as quoted by Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi easily translates to building a winning bid. Getting the estimate right isn’t something you should do once and awhile. It is something you should do all the time. The results of this type of focused effort and consistency should pay off on bid day. Unfortunately, for many companies, winning on bid day is a sometime thing.
A Bond for the Bid
Here are some tips to improve your chances of winning. Following these guidelines will help build a stronger relationship between you and your client (general contractor, construction manager, owner, or trade contractor).
1. Be intentional with your documentation.
Make your attachments clear and relatable, meaning add a snippet of a drawing to show specific things you have covered in your bid, showing specifically those hidden items others might have missed.
2. Show your real scope.
Don’t hold back, this is the time to make sure you are telling the client about how your work will be complete against what they asked for.
3. Disclaim with care.
Don’t emphasize the “Disclaimers” or “Not Included,” sure they need to be there but they should not be front and center.
4. Remember your mistakes.
What did this client berate you on last time? Did they complain that you didn’t include clean up or layout or some other normally not included item but this client needs it?
5. Show your real details.
Yes, show your quantities. Do you think that you are the only one who knows how to take off concrete curbs, doorframes, pounds of rebar or whatever your scope is? How many times does your client call you back to ask, “Hey, did you include XYZ?” Why do we keep doing this? Over communicate to your client as to what you include; it will overshadow your exclusions.
6. Show the project schedule.
Don’t just give your client the number of days you will take to get this done. Give them a real project schedule and show how your scope is expecting to operate the most efficiently on this project. You don’t have time to create a full project schedule? You asked to see how to win bid day tactics … imagine giving your client not only the number of work hours you have included but also the sequencing of when you expect them to be ready for your crews.
7. Show you read the specs.
Tell them that you not only include the specifications but also show them some specifics of what you read; show them you read the specs.
8. Don’t just go through the motions.
Respond correctly to the RFI, RFQ or ITB request. Fill out their form fully. They spent time creating this form. So, you have problems with why they are asking for some information? You should have already asked them prior to bid day. Ask the clients why they need that information, well before bid day and then you can respond with the note reminding the clients you spoke about this issue earlier.
9. Check in on bid day.
Call them earlier in the day on bid day, advise them you are completing your bid and you will have it to them by an exact time. Ask once again if other things have changed with the bid due date, time of bid, duration of project, or other questions. These questions show them you are not only interested in the project, but that you are knowledgeable of the project.
10. Anticipate the other trades’ needs.
If you want to stand out, think of how your trade/scope of work interrelates with another trade/scope of work and show the client some specifics of how you will accommodate their interactions with your work. “We have included and planned for the electrician to deal with their significant main conduits in the hallway and we will frame and rock the hallway side immediately so they can have access.” Yes, some of this is very premature for the project, but imagine the client meeting next week where they are sitting around trying to figure out who to award your scope to, and they remembered the colored scope plan, the schedule details or the actual quantities.