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How to Win a Bid

Increase your odds of landing successful bids on the construction jobs you want.

If only There Was a Go-To Template or Formula You Could Follow in Order to Guarantee Success in The Bidding Process.

There is no magical prescription that works for everyone. Each owner values different features of a bid. Some are all about price (although this is not very uncommon) while others value time and prioritize the quickness of job completion. Some value appearance and presentation and some select a winning bid based on your connections with subcontractors. We’ve put together some guidelines for you to keep in mind when composing your bid in order to increase your chances of winning the jobs you want.

Chapter 1

Know What You Need Before Asking What They Want

Don’t go bidding crazy. Be smart about it.

Find out what types of bids you would like to win before you even start looking at bidding on any actual jobs.

Know your ideal bids, less-than-ideal yet still successful bids, and bids you should avoid so you can spot a winning or losing bid when you see one.

Too often, contractors bid on construction jobs they are unprepared for. Think about bidding as a war—an already common analogy. You wouldn’t attack an enemy you were outnumbered by, so don’t bid on jobs outside your ability. Don’t sign your crew up for a battle they are doomed to fail. Send them into the right battle equipped with the proper skills and weaponry to come out victorious. Only bid on jobs with expectations that can be successfully met by your company, or better yet, exceeded. 

Ask yourself the following questions in order to decipher whether or not a bid is right for you:

  • How much profit do I need to make? 
  • Do I have the ability to obtain the necessary labor, materials, equipment, licenses, and insurance to complete this work? 
  • What resources do I need, including materials and labor? 
  • How much will these resources cost? 
  • How soon can I supply these resources? 
  • What is my timeframe for job completion? 
  • How flexible is my construction schedule? Can I accommodate any delays? 
  • How much of this work will be self-performing? 
  • How much will need to be subcontracted? How much will this cost?
Chapter 2

Know Your Audiences

As a contractor, your clients can include homeowners, property owners, another contractor who is subcontracting work to you, or public and government agencies. 

Whether you deal with some or all of these types of clients, you need to conduct market research on each and develop micro strategies to appeal to each based on their personal interests, pain points, and needs.

Chapter 3

Do Your Homework

Once you decide to bid on a job, do your research.

Gain knowledge about your prospects— specifically what they are looking for and what they are willing to pay to have it done.

Find out exactly what they want and align your bid to match their needs. 

George Hedley, the best selling author of Get Your Business to Work, uses a great fishing analogy to explain this concept. He states, “Bid like you fish… When you go fishing and they aren’t biting, what do you do? You try different fishing techniques, change your bait, or move on to another fishing hole. This is not what contractors typically do when they don’t land enough construction contracts. Most contractors just keep bidding to the same customers over and over, using the same bait and proposal strategies as they’ve always used. Contractors often think if they bid enough jobs to the same companies or entities, the same way, eventually they’ll get their share. This effort won’t get you the positive results you want. Like in fishing, you must change your estimating and bidding strategies to get the big ones to bite more often. You have to use the right tackle, different techniques, and tastier bait to get the fish to think your bait is better than your competition, or look for better fishing holes.”

Chapter 4

Follow Directions

Do what is asked of you. Follow instructions—exactly.

Don’t skip details, roundabout questions, or paraphrase. 

You may think that if you don’t include something, they can’t hold you to it. But not doing so could make you appear sloppy or as if you are trying to sneak something by. If you cannot follow directions in bid documents, the owner will question your ability to perform on the job. 

Answer the questions they ask, not questions you think they might ask. If the plans don’t call for it, don’t add it. By listing out all of your qualifications, you will make things harder, not easier—decreasing your chances of winning the bid. Any extra effort on behalf of the employer to decipher your meanings leaves a lasting negative impression. 

Make sure your bid contains the following in order to guarantee effortlessness on behalf of the owner.

Chapter 5

Set Yourself Apart

Find ways to differentiate yourself from your competition and demonstrate the value you can bring to your prospect better than your competition

Give your client distinctive reasons to choose you instead of your competition by providing them with benefits they won’t find anywhere else. 

If you don’t offer anything beyond what your competition offers, you can only sell your price—which is a war you don’t want to start. 

First and foremost, give them what they want—not accessory features and bonuses, but things they directly ask for:

  • Offer answers their problems with complete solutions rather than partial, temporary remedies + Reduce their risk 
  • Offer guarantees 
  • Provide superior customer service with personal face to face contact and prompt responses to client concerns
Chapter 6

Sell a Relationship, NOT the Bid

Go beyond the details and paperwork and make the effort to engage with your potential client face to face.

Make your goal to sell a long-term relationship, not a bid. 

The importance of establishing a personal relationship with your potential client cannot be stressed enough. Try to meet in-person as soon and as much as possible. But if you can’t arrange personal discussions, settle for phone meetings for the time being. Use email as a last resort of communication with a potential client. SO REMEMBER… 

  1. Know What You Need Before Asking What They Want 
  2. Know Your Audiences 
  3. Do Your Homework 
  4. Follow Directions 
  5. Set Yourself Apart 
  6. Sell a Relationship, NOT the Bid