6 Ways to Level the Construction Bidding Playing Field

Level the Construction Bidding Playing Field

The bidding process can feel one-sided. You submit something. You never hear back. The construction bid goes into a black hole of project management and construction runaround.

We hear a lot of feedback from our subcontractors about what to do, most recently from J.W. Denney at Binswanger Glass.

Here are six things you can do to level the bidding playing field.

1. Cover Your Bases. Before You Bid

Make sure that you’ve reviewed all of the general requirements for the project and that you meet all of them. Make sure that you’re bondable on a job of that size. If the project is looking for pre-fab concrete and you only install cast-in-place concrete, you’re not going to get the job.

2. Fill Out the Prequal Form

Fill it out completely, and fill it out correctly. A prequal form that’s complete and accurate will only help you. If a General Contractor is asking for it, you won’t get his work without it – period.

3. Document What Plans You Used

Make sure that you’ve reviewed the most recent addenda to the project as well as the most recent plans. There’s nothing worse than submitting a bid and realizing that you missed something important. Make notes on your proposal concerning the approval dates on all drawings and addenda.

4. Make Sure You Bid to All of The General Contractors, Not Just “Your General Contractor.”

If there are three concrete supply companies in the area and you just submit your bid to the one you usually work with, you’re going to miss out on the project if your regular guy doesn’t win. Also make sure you contact all General Contractors well before bid date to determine their construction bidding requirements. Waiting until the last minute will hurt your chances of your number being considered.

5. Follow Up On Your Construction Bids

You know that phrase the squeaky wheel gets the grease? That applies here. Be friendly, but professional, and don’t wait too long. Make yourself more than just a number.

Number six comes straight from Binswanger Glass, one of the largest full-service glass retailers in the US and a member of the iSqFt network.

6. No One Should Ever Sign a Legally Binding Contract Without Reading it First.

Subcontractors should check their contracts line-by-line, and if it is not fair and equitable to both parties, propose changes. Strike sections that are unfavorable and add verbiage that makes it more reasonable. The goal is to create an environment of negotiation and build a more collaborative relationship with the General Contractor.

Remember: Your work speaks for itself, but if you lay the right foundation for that work, you can’t help but succeed.

24 replies
  1. Jim Moore
    Jim Moore says:

    Thanks for the info, all good reminders, bidding is heating up and each item here has value.

    Jim Moore
    Moore Woodworks
    general contracting

    • Megan Smale
      Megan Smale says:

      Hi Jim,

      I’m glad you found value in our information. Good luck with your bidding!


    • Megan Smale
      Megan Smale says:

      Hi Francesca,

      Thanks for reading! I hope we were able to give you some ideas to make those contracts feel less one-sided.


  2. Peggy Mangiaforte
    Peggy Mangiaforte says:

    Thank you for the information. As a small business I feel I am “David taking on Goliath” when I bid against major manufacturing companies especially of flagpoles. These points will become my check off sheet before I submit my bid. Thanks again.

    • Megan Smale
      Megan Smale says:

      Hi Peggy,

      I’m glad you found this information helpful. If you have other ideas for blogs that you would like us to explore, please let us know. We’re open to suggestions!


  3. Jesse Luna
    Jesse Luna says:

    You want to Level the bidding playing field? Thats a simple solution just make all bids a “Sealed” bid.

    • Megan Smale
      Megan Smale says:

      Hi Marvin,

      I’m glad you found our blog interesting! J.W. Denney at Binswanger Glass had some great insight and our team here at iSqFt provided some very valuable information as well.


  4. Drew D
    Drew D says:

    As an Estimator with a GC I would add transparent and broken down proposals. There is nothing worse than getting a quote that simply states “Perform all work related to scope for $XXX,XXX.”. We like a break down, even if it is nice round numbers. It shows us what the cost drivers could be in a project and also how you level out against your competitors.

  5. Mark Cobb
    Mark Cobb says:

    A great “down-and-dirty” list to help folks win bids and, more importantly, make sure they can fulfill their obligations under the contract if they are awarded the contract. Thank you!

  6. Louis Cross
    Louis Cross says:

    All great points, clarity on bids a must. Remember contractors your bid {proposal} covers what your scope of work covers and also sometimes more important what it does not cover.
    Megan, great forum.

    Cross Plumbing

    • Megan Smale
      Megan Smale says:

      Hi Louis,

      You bring up an important point – being thorough when bidding is a must. Thanks for taking the time to read our blog and comment!


  7. Jerry Detwiler [Heartland Grading]
    Jerry Detwiler [Heartland Grading] says:

    This are great suggestion for leveling the playing field.
    I’ve had some success with email follow-up within 3 days of the bid submittal. Remember most of the contacts you are communicating to a the larger corporations are professional executives. In their “world” they communicate with quick response precise email communication. You need to do the same—with quick precise email follow-ups!
    Gerald (Jerry) Detwiler

    • Megan Smale
      Megan Smale says:

      Hi Jerry,

      Great tip! Following up via email is a very smart idea, particularly given your audience. Thanks for checking out our blog!


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