Feb 01, 2023

Tips for a Win-Win Bid


There’s an art to overcoming market competition. With activity ramping up across all construction sectors, it’s important to recognize the tactics, best practices, and negotiating tips that will put your company at the top of the bidding pile.

“It’s getting competitive out there, and that won’t change any time soon,” says James Kelly, Convoy Supply’s National Building Envelope Manager. “The more advantages you can give yourself in the planning and bidding stage, the better.”

Are you looking to gain an edge in your next bid and avoid surprises if you win? Consider the following strategies.

Get to know the decision makers

Capitol-Park-Victoria-BC-640x400In construction, as in all industries, relationships count. Before you draft your bid, learn about the project's stakeholders, including their history, leadership backgrounds, organizational values, and what they look for in a project partner. By gaining a deeper understanding of who you're pitching to, you'll be better positioned to align your bid.

"There are a lot of players that can have a significant impact on the project and who will be working on it, be it the general contractor, property management firm, builder, or any number of subcontractors," says Jim Matsuo, Manager Architectural & Technical, Convoy Supply. "It's in your best interest to do what you can to build or strengthen your relationship with these people."

Break down the submission

Some tenders may ask for specific bids on various components of the project. Where requested, break these sections down with as much detail as possible to demonstrate you have a firm understanding of the job. That way, the decision makers know exactly what you're proposing.

Says Matsuo, “If it’s a building envelope-specific tender, they may want the walls separated from the roof, and separated from the waterproofing, and so on so that they’re broken down into different bid submissions. Make sure you recognize that and provide those details.”

This is not always the case, but nevertheless, he adds, "It's your responsibility to know what is required because if you miss anything, you're going to be held accountable for it."

Position yourself as a good fit

Experience counts in the construction field. Gain a competitive edge by demonstrating how your company's expertise and capability align with the project's objectives and spotlight historical projects that are similar to the one being tendered.

Similarly, it helps to show your company is technically equipped to handle the job, meaning it has the modern tools, tech, and skills to make good on your proposed work.

New Women Hospital WinnipegSpotlight your safety plan

It's no understatement to say that safety is top of mind among general contractors. And given added anxieties over recent public health crises, every contractor should make the health and wellbeing of their crews a priority. You may already be doing this, but make sure your safety credentials, designations, and game plans are clearly defined in your bid to give decision-makers added peace of mind.

"When I'm talking to GCs, one of the main things they mention is safety," says Kelly. "Price is important, but they first want to know you're going to be able to do everything you promise without people getting hurt and, as a lesser consequence, shutting down the site."

Keep track of all addendums

The tender you see isn't always set in stone. Changes and corrections can be made throughout the process that must be tracked and considered before you submit your bid.

"You always want to watch out for issues or errors within specs, because even if it's a small thing, that could affect how you put together your bid," Kelly advises. “That’s why we always want to review the specification thoroughly to ensure that everyone understands what the issues are and to resolve them."

For example, take initial specs that call for a contractor to mechanically fasten through a steel deck. If that spec is changed to concrete without them knowing, the contractor may vastly underestimate the additional time, labour, and even material costs required for the actual job.

As Kelly explains, "The owner might award you the job based upon price, but then you get to the site and realize that you can't mechanically fasten it anymore as you planned. Instead, you must torch the membrane down, making the cost of your labour a lot more than what you planned.”

Land that project

If there’s one catch-all rule to bidding, it’s to read carefully, tell your best story, and double- (or even triple-) check what you’re proposing before clicking “send” on your bid.

"The bidding process is as much about making sure you're equipped and ready for the project as it is about selling yourself for the job," says Matsuo.