Sometimes it feels like this business is just about price and winning the bid just comes down to the number. Make no mistake, price matters, and everyone is under more pressure than ever to keep costs down. But if you look closely at the seemingly solid wall of the construction business, you’ll see some expansion joints—places where there is still some flexibility and room to grow.
In other words, while the number you submit on bid day is still king, it’s certainly not the only factor that matters, and it’s not the only way you can win the bid. Here are a few reminders of how relationships and professionalism still matter.
Standing out among your competition, by definition, is about differentiation; it’s about doing things your competitors don’t. Things like
Read and open the documents as soon as you get them. GCs are under enormous pressure to get coverage, and seeing that subcontractors have looked at a project’s documents is a relief.
Ask questions. Asking questions about a project well in advance of bid day is a great way to show both professionalism and engagement.
Respond. When you’re invited to a party, it’s impolite to not respond. Same is true with bid invitations. GCs need to have a pretty good idea of who will “be there” on bid day and who won’t. Responding to a bid invitation–whether you say yes or no–isn’t just polite, it shows engagement and an interest in building a relationship.
Touch base. As you see things changing on a project–and as technology, materials, and standards change in your trade—keep the estimator in the loop. They may be too busy to talk about the game last night, but they’ll definitely want to stay current on things that affect their jobs.
Bid completely. The bid is important, but the numbers after the dollar sign aren’t the only things that matter. GCs want bids that are well-organized, detailed, and complete. They’re going to be looking through a lot of bids; don’t make ‘em work for the information they need.
We often think that subs and GCs work at cross-purposes, but most of the time the relationship is symbiotic. GCs want more subs in their databases, and subs want relationships with as many GCs as possible. Two suggestions worth noting:
Introduce yourself. If you’re a subscribing iSqFt member, you’ll have access to bidders lists that show you all the GCs bidding on a project. You could send a bid to the GCs you know, but since you’ve gone to all the trouble to create a well-organized, detailed, and complete bid, why not share it? We’ll give you the information you need to give yourself the best chance to win the job.
Include references. If you’re submitting a bid to a GC you don’t know well (or at all), include some references that will paint a picture of the kind of person you are, the kind of business you run, and the kind of work you do. Make it easy for the GC to get to know you better.
I doubt there are any earth-shattering revelations in here, but that was never my intent. We’re all working harder than ever, and sometimes it feels like the basics of human interaction get lost. If you show interest, offer good questions and information, put in a good bid, and do good work, you’re likely to get noticed. In a good way.