If your kid scored a 17% on his math test, you’d be pretty upset, right? Did you know the average bid-to-win rate for general construction contractors is exactly that — one win out of every six bids? (You may not want to share that fact with your offspring.) So don’t be disheartened if you feel like you’re losing more than you’re winning. You probably are, and you aren’t alone. But there are ways to up that bid-to-win percentage. Here are six to get you started:
- Put yourself out there.
Waiting for quality, profitable leads to come to you is like waiting to win the lottery without buying a ticket. You must be proactive to get the work you want. Is your website up to date and easy to navigate? Are you showcasing recent projects and new services on social media? Do you attend local contractors’ association meetings or other events where decision-makers gather? Are you pre-qualified with general contractors in your area? Make an effort to market yourself and consider investing in online bid sites like these to stay on top of the latest opportunities.
- Get some face time.
If you can (it’s not possible for every project), find out who’s making the decision and find a way to get in front of them. Introduce yourself, your company and your expertise and start building a relationship. It’s much easier for someone to say “no” to a piece of paper than to a living, breathing human being. But don’t make the conversation all about you. Use face-to-face opportunities to ask questions and seek out what’s important to the customer — factors you can weave into your bid proposal.
- Be first.
Do you want your proposal to be the one that sets the bar for those to follow — or the one that comes in right at the deadline and gets skimmed over? Yes, it’s time-consuming to put a bid together, particularly when it requires a lot of custom content, but think about ways you could do it faster. Creating templates and spreadsheets that are easy to populate each time can help, as can compiling success stories, service descriptions, team bios and other standard information. Using construction bidding software can also be a huge time-saver.
- Follow the “fewer/better” philosophy.
Bidding on every job takes time and focus away from preparing great bids for the jobs you’re actually best suited for. Go after projects where you excel or bring something to the table the competition does not rather than those that require generic skills or expertise outside your comfort zone. Also, consider the possibility of repeat business. A one-off job may not be worth the effort, but a project that could be a springboard to regular work probably is.
- Sell benefits and value, not features.
When you buy a piece of equipment, do you care that it has an advanced fuel management system or that it can save you 20% on your fuel bill? It’s the benefit that attracts your attention — what’s in it for you — not the feature. Apply that same logic to your bids. Couch your experience in terms of what it can do for the person reading your proposal. You don’t have to be the cheapest if you can prove you’re the most valuable. How will you keep the project on budget and on schedule? How will you ensure safety, accuracy and compliance with regulations?
- Conduct a post-mortem.
When you finish a job, compare your actual numbers to your estimates. (This requires keeping accurate records for materials, labor and equipment.) How close were you? Did you forget to budget for anything? Did you include an adequate contingency? Completing a review lets you determine your profitability — and if your profit margin isn’t high enough, identify whether that’s due to poor estimating or problems on the job you can address next time. Do certain projects always seem to be unprofitable? Maybe it’s time to stop chasing that work and focus elsewhere.
Winning more bids doesn’t have to be complicated. With some upfront planning, dedicated resources and a commitment to finding the right match between your skills and the available work, you can raise that winning percentage and your profits.