Be the Best Bidder

Best Bidder practices for construction subcontractors

Best Bidder not lowest bidder

You know there are those who only choose the lowest bidder. No matter how detrimental that practice often is. It happens. This story from ENR tells the tale well.

And, here is another low bid fire station disaster.

If you wish to remove “lowest” from the criteria general contractors might use when considering your bid here are a few things for you to consider.  Because price shouldn’t be the only determining factor in a winning bid.

The Best Bidder will bring

 

  • Outstanding trade expertise.

 

  • Proof of required licenses and insurance.

 

  • Confirmation of past performance with comparable projects.

 

  • Excellent safety records.

 

  • Good equipment.

 

  • Demonstration of well-tended financials (including cash flow capabilities and good qualifications for meeting your vendors’ payment terms.)

 

Soft qualities of Best Bidders

While the following qualities are harder to quantify, they often fit in the make-it or break-it category for GCs. General contractors looking for the best bidder rather than the lowest bidder will watch for:

  • Responsiveness – responding to all forms of communication in a timely manner.

 

  • An excellent attitude – includes understanding how to respond to problems with creativity and a can-do attitude.

 

  • A dedication to teamwork – within your own company, with other trades, and with the GCs representatives, demonstrating your desire to create a mutually beneficial partnership.

 

  • Cleanliness – keeping the site as clean as possible at all times.

 

  • A reputation for integrity – honesty and sincerity, including owning up to your own or your team’s mistakes.

 

And, it is in these soft qualities where you have the most opportunity to promote your value as opposed to focusing on price.

Think about it — when your bid is close to other bids, often your reputation is all it takes to assure you get more than a passing glance.

Who you gonna call?

It is just as important to choose a general contractor worth submitting a bid to as it is to be a subcontractor worthy of consideration.

Here are questions vital to your pre-bid decision.

  • How long has the general contractor been in business?

 

  • How many subcontractors have they worked with? (Contacting past subs may give you an idea of how easy or difficult it is to work with this GC.)

 

  • Do they have procedures for handling conflicts?

 

  • How many levels of management do they have in place?

 

  • Who will be your point of contact?

 

  • What paperwork will be required? And how frequently?

 

  • When will the job begin?

 

  • What is the estimated time of completion?

 

  • What is the scope of the work required?

 

Best Bidder practices

Putting your best foot forward before the bid is called is only the first step. Take every opportunity to let GCs know why your services are better.

And finally, be sure to manage your bid processes well. Determine to focus on bidding projects that will result in profitable returns and repeat business.

 

It is our desire this article (among our growing library of construction-centric informational articles) is helpful in assisting commercial construction contractors build better building businesses. 

Providing Accounting and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

So you can Run With the Big Dogs. 866-629-7735

Service and Your Construction Business

Service is the way you set your construction business apart.

Service is paramount

Service is what distinguishes your construction company from the others. You know it is true. Those working for you should know it’s true – but some won’t.

And, the sad part is, some of those who offer up poor service while representing your construction business will be the loudest protestors when they receive poor service elsewhere. Some people just ain’t got no manners! 😲

Just as Supreme Court justice, Potter Stewart could, while explaining pornography, say, “I know it when I see it,” we all know excellent service when we see it.

When you develop a company culture which goes beyond “be nice” you develop a company both potential clients and potential employees will seek out.

Let me put that another way. When your construction business is built on integrity, dignity, and courtesy clients will want to work with you and tradesmen will want to work for you.

Service is more than a word

It is an attitude. Passing on an attitude of excellent service to your employees and subs is your only defense from poor-service-syndrome. Be clear. Make sure everyone who represents your construction business (and uh, that means everyone in your employ or under your supervision) understands this is a bottom line issue.

Think about it, the thing your clients are most likely to remember is the direct interaction they have with you and those who represent your company.

Bad service example

Sometimes you can see it headed your way. Sometimes you’re blindsided.

Recently, my son-in-law made an appointment to have his truck serviced by the dealership where he purchased it. He showed up at the appointed time only to find he wasn’t on the schedule. Although that was an irritating moment it could have been soothed over in a number of ways.

But. It. Wasn’t!

Rather than saying, “Oh no, we’re sorry, we made a mistake,” the answer was “You didn’t make an appointment.” When my son-in-law used his phone record to prove he had indeed made an appointment the follow up answer was delivered dead-pan (with no emotion) and went like this, “You’re not on the schedule, we can’t fit you in, you’ll have to make an appointment.” While that last statement was (in all likelihood) true, it was also an example of customer service gone awry.

Good service example

This one is easy. It is what we typically receive on any given day and at any given business. You’re greeted when you approach the clerk. Someone asks if you want your items packaged a certain way. The wait-staff offers a refill on your drink before it is empty. You’re asked where you can be directed to find what you want. You transact your business and you move on.

You’re neither angry, nor inspired to write a glowing review of the great service you just received. It is normal. Almost every person or business rises to the level of good service.

Exceptional service example

Disney.

You’ve heard it before and from your own experience have likely encountered the exceptional service provided by Disney employees. I mean, just think, they even have the Disney Institute where business owners and organizations go to learn about providing exceptional service. How cool is that?

Oh, by the way, here is something that should be near and dear to the heart of every construction contractor – safety is the first priority when employees are being trained in “the Disney way.” I didn’t know that, did you?

Good and exceptional service compared

Good – A few weeks ago, I was with the family at a bar-b-que restaurant where I noticed my grandchildren had chosen side dishes of macaroni and cheese. It looked good to me and I commented on it. A few minutes later one of the wait staff put a small, plastic container in front of me with enough mac and cheese in it for me to decide that, yes, I would order a dish for myself.

Exceptional – Not too long ago, several family members gathered at Disney World for a reunion. One of the family members noticed that another of the group had a bowl of soup which looked good to her. She mentioned to the person eating it she would like to try it sometime. Within minutes a bowl of the soup was placed in front of her by a member of the wait staff courtesy of Disney.

Both were small gifts, one was simply better than the other.

Develop or update your service policy

Pay attention when you’re with your clients. Solicit their feedback before, during, and after each project. Ask questions. Try to understand their needs and goals and then do your best to make them your own.

Be prepared to always step to the plate. Never wait, hide, or sugar coat a problem. No matter how bad it is, deal with all issues with honesty and integrity. After addressing a problem, be ready with a solution. Let your client know how your team will deal with the problem. Your reputation depends on it.

Empower your employees with a flexible  approach. Devise guidelines for your team members that allow plenty of freedom to handle customers on a case-by-case basis. Include information concerning priority solutions and “go-to” fixes for common problems. Define the service principles and standards which guide all interactions within your construction business.

Service givens

Providing excellent service is a matter of having good excellent manners.

You and everyone working for you are a part of your Service Department.

Customer service supersedes skill levels and product delivery.

Poor service on any level reflects on every level.

Your employees will only work to the level of your personal standard.

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