These days, the most common method of submitting a project bid is through a general contractor. Often, however, there is a pre-qualification process.
No matter what system you’re using to bid on a contract, there are some common winning strategies that help ensure your company gets the work.
Rob Boisvert, Branch Manager for Industrial Electrical Contractors Ltd. in Kingston, shared his experience with us.
“It will depend on what they ask for. Just make sure you answer clearly, provide details, and don’t forget the support documentation,” he says. “Most proposals during the prequalification phase are scored on each requested item.”
“In general, think about your bid proposal like a resume for your company. Often the same ‘best foot forward’ approach works best.”
1. Price Appropriately
While you won’t know how the other contractors are bidding, and the lowest price often wins, it’s also important to provide an accurate cost. You want to establish a track record of being on time and on budget, not surprise cost overruns.
That doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to lower costs.
“Use your relationships,” advises Rob. “For example, if you have a history of paying early with a supplier, that can mean a price break if you’re easy to work with. Prices are sometime weighed against aggravation in this industry.”
One of the biggest costs is often labour, but manpower availability has to be checked too.
Rob explains. “As an ECAO contractor, we use union labour. It’s important to check to ensure there’s enough workers available. Also ensure that you’ve got the right ratio of name hires (requests for specific workers) to overall number of hires. This will depend on your history of hiring and layoffs, but overall it needs to work out to 50/50.”
2. Project History
“Review committees want to know that you’re good enough to do their project,” says Rob. “Make sure you demonstrate your suitability with similar types of projects. If the project you’re bidding on is a hospital, list your past experience with hospitals.”
Scope and budget are important too, however. “Include the year you did the project and the dollar value. Just because you’ve done a $1 million dollar utility project, it doesn’t make you a strong candidate for a $5 million dollar utility project,” explains Rob.
If you don’t have direct experience in a project of that scale, include other high-budget projects. If the other competitors don’t have experience exactly matching the budget and project type either, the winner could be you.
3. Project Successes
Municipalities and other agencies want to see a proven record of meeting deadlines and budget commitments. Include these successes in your project list. If deadlines and budgets slipped because of scope changes beyond your control, make a note of the circumstances.