Creating competitive—and, ideally, winning—bid proposals takes time, thought, and a lot of know-how. Choosing the right projects to bid on and then successfully doing so requires more than a quick look at some numbers and getting them down. Submitting better construction project bids is essential to growing your construction business.
Creating Successful Project Bid Proposals
- Bid on the right projects. Submitting better construction project bids starts with selecting the right opportunities to pursue. Winning the contract for a job you can’t handle or that won’t be profitable can be more costly than not getting the job. Some contractors have a hard time backing out when they’ve put time and effort into drafting a proposal. But if you’re well into the work, crunching numbers and making plans, and you realize a project isn’t going to be a good fit, cut your losses here.
- Familiarize yourself with all the requirements. You’ll have to submit certain information and documents, of course. But also pay attention to other important details, such as the deadline for submitting questions and the bid itself, whether there’s a mandatory pre-bid meeting or site tour, and necessary prequalifications.
- Attend pre-bid meetings. These are a great opportunity to get more details about the project and ask questions. It’s often a good chance to tour the job site too, which provides lots of useful information about conditions and accessibility that can affect your costs and strategy. The more information you have, the better your bid proposal can be.
- Visit the project site. As noted in the previous entry, you can learn a lot by viewing the site. If there’s no pre-bid meeting, or if it’s not held at the site, get as good a look at the location as you can on your own.
- Ask questions when you need clarification. As mentioned earlier, there’s usually a deadline for submitting questions, so note it. But never make assumptions about the requirements for a project. If a question comes up while preparing your bid, for example like whether material substitutions are permitted in the proposal or what bonds are required, be sure to ask.
- Use accurate measurements. Carefully review all plans and specs, make note of proper units of measurement, and take measurements from the correct place in the project materials (e.g., written specifications rather than drawings). This is essential to correctly calculating costs.
- Do the math right. Simple addition or subtraction errors can cause big problems in your bid and how reality matches up to it during construction. Don’t perform calculations manually; use a calculator or bidding software. Double- and triple-check the numbers you input, and re-check spreadsheet formulas, too. Having another person look over the numbers can be helpful when you’ve been on top of them for a while.
- Choose your subcontractors wisely. Successfully working with subcontractors isn’t just important once the work gets started—the relationship even matters when you’re focused on submitting better construction project bids. Obviously you want subcontractors who provide competitive pricing, but you need to prequalify them to be sure they can deliver on time and on budget.
- Identify and manage risks. Perform thorough risk assessment in the bidding stage. Every job has a unique set of risks, so you’ll need a tailored risk management strategy and an understanding of how it will affect work. Analyze the likelihood and the potential impact of the risks you identify. Of course, the more likely a problem is and the bigger a setback it would be, the more you have to weigh how it would affect your schedule and costs.
- Be through when calculating labor costs. This is often one of the trickiest parts of creating a bid proposal. Look at the manhours needed for all tasks and the hourly wages. But also consider the experience level and productivity of crew members, expected turnover during the project, estimated injuries and absences, and other factors.
- Be thorough when calculating materials and equipment costs. Material costs can change quickly these days and vary widely in different regions, so look at current trends as well as current prices. If the project involves specialty materials, look into their costs. Make calls to suppliers for the most up-to-date information about pricing and availability. Consider whether you have all machines you need, whether they’re operating at peak performance levels, and whether you would benefit from renting heavy equipment for the project.
- Review your proposal for completeness. An incomplete proposal is much less likely to win. Make sure you’ve filled out everything in the bid form, and that you’ve included all requested documents. It can be helpful to create a checklist of everything that should be included and go over it at the end.