Tired of bidding and not winning projects?
A lot of contractors spend time estimating jobs but don’t spend enough time with the follow-up.
We specialize in construction estimating, and we see many contractors are losing out on jobs not because of their bid, but because of the “after” the bid part.
Many contractors have a bad habit of bidding jobs and sitting back and crossing their fingers they’ll get it.
With no follow-up.
No pricing adjustment.
And sometimes not even meeting the potential client.
Let’s fix that, read below to finally understand how to bid jobs, and win them.
Why Listen to Us?
I AM Builders is a construction estimating and consulting firm that works with over 1,400 clients across the U.S and has estimated over $1.5 billion in projects for clients. We specialize in performing estimates and providing construction takeoff services for clients.
We offer an in-depth, completely free blueprint on how to grow any construction business, based on all our own experience in the industry.
We normally charge clients to access the information in this article, but we decided to give it to you at no cost.
Let’s dive in.
Meet Every Potential Client Before Bidding the Job
Before you send a bid out, you must meet the client.
This is non-negotiable if you want to have the best possible chance to win the job.
We can go about this by having a professional visiting system that allows you to bid most (or all) of your projects only to people likely to give you the job.
Here’s the exact same visiting method we show our clients:
1. Make a List and Find Leads to Visit/Reach Out To
Get a list of potential clients and create a realistic schedule to visit or reach out to at least 4-5 of them per week.
Remember, it’s all about relationship building, it’s important to free up time in your day to develop those relationships because it’ll supercharge the speed you’ll start securing work.
Here’s how to find leads to visit.
First, head on over to Google Maps.
Next, type any of the following into the search bar:
- “Type of client” + in city
- “Type of client” + zip code
- “Type of client” + near me
Here’s an example. (general contractors + 33009)
In a matter of seconds you have a list of great potential leads, completely free.
Once you do some quick research on each company to make sure they’re a good fit, create a list and put:
- Company name
- Phone number
- Name of the specific person in the company you want to reach out to
A good-sized list should be about 20-30 potential clients. And keep in mind you’re only going to be visiting 4-5 per week.
2. Introduce Yourself and Give Value
Next, decide how you want to reach out to everyone on your list.
Visiting clients and meeting them face-to-face is always the most effective method, but if for any reason you can’t, then just call instead. And if you can’t visit or call then use email as the last resort.
Now I’ll explain how to introduce yourself to new prospects.
Visiting/Calling the Prospect
If you’re planning on actually visiting the prospect and meeting them face-to-face, then I strongly recommend calling before. You can say something like this on the call:
I saw you’re working on [insert local project], ….”
After that call, there’s a very good chance you’ll have their email, and your visit will be expected.
Then, just go down your list of potential clients and repeat the same process.
EXPERT TIP: Try to get a hold of the decision-maker ASAP. Make it clear you’re serious about working with their company and also be sure to present your expertise and past work.
Our philosophy here at I AM Builders is that every contractor needs a Select 12 Cluster (S12C). An S12C is your power base of clients. AKA, the people who know you well and you can depend on to give you work consistently.
Hire an Estimating Firm
Once you receive the plans and info on the project, by far the smartest, and the most cost-effective thing to do is outsource the estimating/takeoffs.
Many contractors choose to do their estimates themselves, and it proves to be very tedious and time-consuming. If they took all the time spent estimating and instead dedicated it to selling projects, their business would practically be a money-printing machine.
If you’re interested in taking this step, feel free to check us out at iambuilders.com. And if you’d like to see some example estimates we’ve done for previous clients click here.
Call the Architect and Owner to Find Out Who Else Is Bidding the Job (The Title Page Method)
After you bid a job, be sure to contact the architect of the project to introduce yourself and also see who else is bidding the job.
Owners and developers almost always ask for contractor recommendations from architects after they finish the drawings.
“Do you know any good General Contractors?” – Developers
Here’s how to find architects and owners to contact:
- Go to your plans and look for the title page/cover sheet.
- Look for where it shows the project information. (see below)
How to use that to multiply your chances of winning a job by literally 300%
1. Call the architect/owner/owner representative/developer and find out the other GCs bidding the job.
2. Reach out to each one of them and submit a bid. Then ask to get on THEIR bid list.
Here’s a quick summary of this strategy any subcontractor looking to grow their business can use.
Adjust Your Pricing Based on Feedback
Once you submit your bid, you’re likely going to receive some feedback on your pricing. And they’ll ask you for a better price almost every time.
If your potential client tells you your bid is too high, you can ask them where your competitors are to see if you can work on lowering your price. That’s one of the biggest keys to winning your construction bid.
You can also discuss the scope of work. Ask if you could manage fewer things on the job, which would make your price cheaper.
Another possibility is they’re actually overbudget. In cases like these, you might be able to offer value engineering. Value engineering is to offer cheaper alternatives to accomplish the same work.
Important: Don’t Submit Your Bid Too Early Before the Bid Date (or they’ll use your number to shop around)
What many contractors do is use low bids to shop around for better rates/prices from the company they’re interested in. To avoid this, be sure to submit your bid closer to the bid date and to stay in touch with the potential client.
Develop a System of Following Up for Every Single Project
Here’s where a lot of contractors slip up.
The bidding process is just the beginning. If you submit your bid and don’t follow up or develop any real connection with the prospect, it’s very likely your price will only be used as a negotiating tool for the GC/owner to get better pricing from your competitors, as I mentioned above.
By now it’s very obvious that keeping in touch with your prospect is very important. So here are 4 things you need to do (if you’re not already) to accomplish that.
1. Have lunch with potential clients or current clients every day
2. Give advice to help with them their projects (value engineering)
3. Check in on other contractors through phone call or office visit consistently
4. Showcase your work on a website
To sum it all up in 1 phrase it would be this: Always Demonstrate Expertise.
Many GCs and developers have a list of Subs/GCs they usually work with. When they put out a project for bid, they often know who they’re going to work with already, and will only use other bidders to get a better price. The only way to butt in and replace that contractor is to develop a strong relationship with that GC/Developer, and prove you’re more reliable. And then the moment that contractor messes up, or problems start rising, they’ll run to you as the replacement.
On the other hand, other GCs and developers (typically newer ones) may receive a project and are genuinely hunting for the best subcontractor for the job.
These kinds of GCs base their selection on who has the most perceived value. The absolute biggest factor when considering who to pick for the project isn’t who the lowest bidder is, but the bidder who the client is most confident in.
Cheaper doesn’t mean better. In fact, most of the time the cheapest options for projects are the ones who will give you the hardest time. Right?
Many contractors are already aware of this, so the only logical conclusion is to prove that you produce excellent work by doing the 4 things outlined above: have lunch with clients/prospects consistently, ask about what they’re working on and give advice to help them, check in on them through phone call or in-person visit, and showcase previous work on your own website or on public sites like Thumbtack or Houzz.
To Sum Things Up
There are 5 steps to bidding jobs successfully that we outlined here:
1. Meet every potential client before bidding.
2. Hire takeoff/estimating services to complete the bid so you can focus on sales.
3. Call the architect and owner to find out who else is bidding the job.
4. Adjust your pricing.
5. Develop a system of following up for every project.
We hope this post helped you with your construction business.
Thanks for reading and good luck.