For small businesses in the world of electrical contracting, the type of work you are doing is likely going to be a series of smaller jobs, some one-time jobs, others recurring customers. This is going to be something that you need to keep working on until your company grows its reputation through word of mouth. Established companies are able to draw in potential customers using their brand name alone. Until you get to that point, though, here’s a look at how to win electrical contracts.
Understanding How Contractors Bidding Works
In the world of electrical work, many jobs are secured through bidding. A client will send out an invitation for a bid or request for proposals. Then, different companies will have the opportunity to reply with how much they think they can do that job for. Here are a few additional points about the bidding process.
— Public and private jobs generally have different rules for bids, so make sure you read those before submitting your proposal.
— Even if you’re desperate for work, don’t take on a job that you’re not confident you can complete. Failing would only hurt your brand in the long-run.
— Make sure that your submission has past evidence showing that you have a history of holding to your budget and schedule. This will help you stand out from other potential candidates.
— Negotiate, within reason. Even after your bid is accepted, there will be a point between that and the contract finalization where you can negotiate on bids. Just make sure you don’t deviate too far from the initial offer.
Always Calculate Your Bids Appropriately
As an added note here, many novice electrical contractors fail to properly calculate every single expense that goes into their bid. In the best-case scenario, the client will notice this and pass over your bid. In the worst-case scenario, the client accepts your bid, you get to work, then find out that your estimates were radically off and you need to charge the client more or take more time. This hurts your reputation, which is essential when it comes to winning future jobs. Because of this, you want to make sure that you cover factors like:
— Subcontractor fees
— Labor costs
— Material costs
— Demolition, if applicable
— Preventative maintenance
— Additional equipment costs
In addition, depending on the job or installation, you may need to bring in specialized equipment or certain professionals. Make sure the added costs to you are reflected in your bid. It’s extremely important that you have a neat and organized bid sheet that shows how you arrive at your conclusions. If you just leave an estimate, the client is still going to ask about specifics. If you can’t provide them, you’re going to get passed over. Showing where you stand right away saves everyone extra work.
As a small business owner, you may not have the resources of your larger counterparts, but that doesn’t mean you can’t win electrical jobs through smart marketing. Rather than trying to compete with them in scale, try and focus on other benefits your business brings to the table when figuring out how to win electrical contracts. Social media is a great equalizer in this regard. Facebook advertising is not very expensive to break into. You can manipulate your ads to specifically target people that you think would make ideal clients. This can include people who live in your local service area or those that have an interest in property management and maintenance (IE: property owners)
You also need to have a solid digital presence. One major investment you should make is bringing on a professional web designer rather than using a free one. Not only do these look more professional and are easier to navigate, but when optimized for SEO, they will show up at a higher ranking in local searches (Electricians in X city, for example).
We’ve mentioned a few times how important reputation is for electrical contractors, and this applies to residential and commercial jobs alike. While building your digital profile and marketing is one thing, you also want to network through other channels, also. For example, if you’re trying to expand your commercial clients, make sure that you use the opportunities you have to expand your client base. For example, if you do an electrical system for a major office building, you’re going to be working with facilities management, corporate teams, and many other major names.
Take advantage of this and make sure that all these relevant people know your business. If they know who you are and you do a good job, they may either hire you directly for other jobs or refer you to people you know. An electrical contractor that’s smart about networking can expand their client list exponentially, winning even more jobs.
Buy Project Management Software
As a postscript to the use of technology to bid electrical jobs, we need to reiterate the importance of basing your bid on data. It’s one thing to use your intuition and experience, but don’t forget that that has limits. Your understanding of things may be outdated, new trends may shift how much a job costs. Of course, there’s always the risk of something going awry mid-job. To make sure that you don’t find yourself in this situation, make sure that you fully understand what a job will cost before you bid.
If someone asks, “how to win electrical contracts?,” The best way to do this is through electrical project management software, like eSUB. This allows an electrical contractor or general contractors to have a full look at their bid history and how it compares to their costs. By breaking down all the individual costs that come with a job, not only can they be better at winning work, but also making sure it’s profitable. This software helps your project manager be more effective in their role.