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Understanding What Jobs to Bid

September 10, 2017

Now comes the part where you identify that sweet spot for best bid success and profitable execution. That can be fleshed out in a few simple steps:

a) Look at schedule first and ask yourself:

  • How much work do I currently have in progress?
  • How much work needs to be scheduled?
  • Would I be putting the quality of work at risk?
  • Should we look at smaller or larger jobs to bid?

b) Review your history and be objective asking: What type of work do we do best?

  • Type of work — If your sweet spot includes concrete or underground utilities, then you should focus on finding those types of jobs where you can be successful.
  • Commercial, Industrial, Residential, Government, etc. — You may, typically, only focus on commercial work but see that the residential sector may have the types of jobs where your profit margins can grow

c) Do some research to answer: Who is on the bid list? Who are my competitors?

  • Even when work is in your sweet spot, does the competition always come in very low and win?
  • What is your previous experience with that particular Owner or General Contractor?
  • Do you have a proven track record of knowing you can beat the competitor(s) and deliver a successful and profitable job?

“You must target what you do best, but also must bid work because of who it is when they ask you to bid, “Maintaining good working relationships is essential to being respected, sought out, and staying busy. At Charter Estimating We focus on building relationships with respected general contractors and growing confidence there by working fairly — and can back up our bids with details as needed.”

  1. Properly collect, organize, and analyze bid documents. Obviously contractors accumulate many bid documents and details. How you manage them separates the organized from the agonized. Do you collect documents in paper or electronically, or a mix? Are your specifications and requirements thorough and provided upfront?

“Paperwork is the bane of every contractor,”  “Having the right system in place to properly manage all of the documentation on any job is essential to your success. Electronic documents are the easiest to manage and can be readily accessible to all parties via the cloud.”

“We specialize in design/build projects. So we typically don’t have a hard bid but have to design it and then put a cost to it,” says John Gallico, Director of Pre- Construction Services, Nash, Inc. of Coleman, Florida. “Because we work with architectural drawings, not your typical plumbing and mechanical drawings, there are many ‘unseen’ elements in the process as the engineer creates the drawings and the we the estimator uses software to overlay drawings and easily see what’s changed from one version to the next. Managing digital files using estimating software is so much more accurate and fast compared to what it would require to do by eye alone on paper. This saves us time and money at the front of the project as well as when it comes back to pre-construction from operations when there are changes to be made. So after we’ve bid a job and a change order comes in, we have to ‘find Waldo’ so to speak. The architects don’t tell us what’s changed — we have to find what’s different and bid it effectively.”