With more online bidding platforms and bid building tools available, the subcontractor bidding process has never been easier in 2018. However, there are still avoidable and costly mistakes that can frustrate subcontractors. Here are some common and costly mistakes to avoid in the subcontractor bidding process and ways to reduce risks.
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1. Inaccurate Measurements, Takeoffs, and Math
In the subcontractor bidding process, accurate measurements and take-offs are crucial. If the numbers aren’t accurate, you can’t provide an accurate bid which could severely impact your business down the road. If you’re using the same unit of measurement as the architect, then your take-off and bid should be more accurate and successful. It’s also a good idea to avoid scaling any plans because it could be inaccurate. However, if you use feet rather than yards or meters, your bid is no longer accurate, and you might lose the bidding process.
Just like inaccurate measurements, mathematical errors are the saboteurs to your bidding process. It’s important to check your calculations and even have someone proof it to ensure they’re accurate. Inaccurate measurements, takeoffs, and math can result in losing a bid you should’ve won. Reviewing your win and loss rates and why is an excellent exercise for improving your success rate.
2. Not Visiting the Site
Site visits are incredibly important in the subcontractor bidding process because they show general contractors that you’re serious about the project. It shows them that you’ve seen it and have firsthand knowledge of any additional costs due to the site. By attending pre-bid meetings you can speak to the project team, ask any questions about the site or project, and you have the opportunity to make an impression and establish relationships. And often pre-bid conferences are mandatory, so not attending the conference could result in you losing a bid.
3. Not Asking Questions
One of the easiest ways to avoid costly errors is by asking questions. The owners, architects, and general contractors want to ensure that every bid they receive could help them complete the project. They want subcontractors to have a full understanding of the project. When subcontractors have a thorough understanding of the job requirements and if they can realistically complete the project, owners and general contractors have better quality bids to choose. Asking questions also shows that you’re investing time in preparing the proposal and that you’re serious about working on the project.
4. Not Considering Overtime
Overtime is a significant factor in how projects end up over budget. If you know the project scope, timeline, and how your team works you should see whether you can finish it in time. If you don’t think you can complete the project in time without overtime, then you should include that calculation into your bid. Considering overtime also gives you a leg up on other bids. If you don’t consider overtime and the project needs it, then it looks like you went over budget. But if it’s in your bid at the start and you don’t end up needing overtime, then you impress the stakeholders.
5. Not Considering Equipment Needs
One of the most important reasons to visit the site is it also helps you determine what equipment is required. If site conditions or the project require specialized equipment, then it’s important to note that in your bidding process. And if you have the equipment already, you have time to check to ensure it’s not being used for another project. If you have to rent equipment, it should be calculated into your bid. And if another project has designated equipment, you’ll need you will have to determine if it’s feasible to continue with the project bidding process.
6. Rushing the Bid Paperwork
Ever hear of the saying, “speed kills.” Rushed bids are an easy way to make mistakes and derail the subcontractor bidding process. Even if you’ve done similar jobs in the past, every job has unique site requirements and scope. You need time to read through all project documents and to visit the site before preparing a bid. It also ensures that your numbers are accurate and that you won’t have accidentally left details of the last bid on the documents. Also rushed bids are likely to miss essential or necessary documents. Mistakes caused by rushing the paperwork that can be easily fixed can ultimately kill winning new business.
7. Bidding When It Doesn’t Fit
The most costly mistake in the subcontractor bidding process is continuing to bid even after realizing it isn’t a good fit. You’ve spent time and money in purchasing the building plans, visiting the site, asking questions but somewhere you realize that the profit margins are too small. Or you realize that it isn’t a good fit for you or your team, it’s not your specialty. If you continue to prepare and submit a bid and you’re selected you have to find a way to make the project work. Or you cut your losses and start on the next bidding proposal for a project that works for you.