A Few Unexpected Ways to Win Your Next General Contractor or Fabrication Bid
by Bob Hasulak, Partner & Director of Operations, QuickFrames
When it comes to project bidding, our friends in the metal fabrication and general contracting industries know the ups and downs all too well. While bidding and winning jobs is par for the course, it’s not always easy – or effective. Here are a few lesser-known ideas for how to win a general contractor or fabricator bid and experience a more enjoyable time with the process overall.
Deciding how many jobs you bid on is both an art and a science. You need the right ratio in order to make sure you get enough jobs to keep your business going, but you don’t want to have so many that you can’t keep up. Oftentimes, the quantity you aim for is a bit of a shot in the dark – but it doesn’t have to be.
Sit down and review all the jobs for which you bid over the past two to five years. Calculate your ratio of applied-to-won. For example, you may have bid on 20 jobs in two years and won five, giving you a 25% success rate. If you want to increase the jobs you have, you might set a goal of winning five this year alone – which means you’d need to bid on 20 jobs this year. Of course, this ratio isn’t guaranteed, but it does give you a helpful starting point by which you can set goals and either scale up your wins or reduce them, depending on the workload you’re aiming toward.
This will also help you rein in your effort. Instead of spreading your energy out over any job that crosses your desk, you can be more selective about the ones to which you apply. Avoid the ones on which you’re not likely to make a decent profit or that feel like the scope or requirements are too much of a stretch. Make sure you don’t submit a general contractor or fabrication bid out of desperation, or you could end up in the wrong situation that can cost you in the long run. Only apply to those that are a good fit based on resources, scope and finances, and be ok with being choosy.
Go for Speed
It’s been found that the average time it takes a bid to come back to a request for proposals (RFP) is eight days. That’s a pretty long time, especially when the company putting out the proposal is likely eager to lock down its vendors, create their project schedule and get the job moving. So, one way to give yourself a competitive edge is by being one of the first to apply.
Save yourself time by templatizing prior bid proposals and having the design elements created ahead of time. In an ideal world, you’ll see an RFP come available and then simply ‘plug and play’ the correct details for that particular job into your template. You can also create mock proposals broken out by use case, so they’re as specific as possible and only need adjusting once a job’s requirements are made known. This will save you time and help you submit a thoughtful, well-designed proposal faster.
Turn Weakness into Value
Finally, think about how you can make the job easier for the company that put out the RFP. Consider what your unique value propositions are and how they might benefit the job. Also think about the vendors you work with and their value props.
For example, maybe a project has a high volume of skylights, HVAC units and other rooftop equipment that will need to be supported by structural rooftop equipment supports. If you include welded-in angle iron frames in your proposal, you’ll also have to add in costs and time for skilled welders and lengthy (often hassle-filled) installations.
But if you instead incorporate QuickFrames into your proposal, you – and the company you want to work for – can save significant costs on labor and time. Since QuickFrames can be installed with only a ¾” impact driver in roughly 15 minutes, our value prop becomes part of your value prop which then benefits everyone involved in the project.
So, look for areas of weakness in construction projects, then aim to proactively find a way to fix them and offer value.
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