Mastering the construction bidding process is integral for any building or remodeling contractor. Job bidding allows you to prove that you are the best fit for the project and can deliver on time and within budget.
If you are wondering how to bid on construction jobs, this guide has you covered. First, we’ll discuss what a construction bid is and why it’s important. Then, we’ll break down the core elements of a professional bid and how to present it to a potential client. Finally, we’ll talk about follow-up emails and how and when to send them. Let’s get started.
What Is a Construction Bid? And Why Is Construction Bidding Important?
A construction bid is a document sent by a construction business to a client that expresses the business’s desire to undertake a project, how the business would achieve the client’s requirements, and how much it would cost. In some cases, general contractors request bids from subcontractors.
Job bidding aims to show a potential client that you and your team are the right fit for the project. You have the expertise, resources, and time to complete or manage their building needs.
Bidding construction jobs is a process that typically unfolds as follows:
- The client invites contractors and construction businesses to submit their bids.
- Contractors and construction businesses review the invitation and project information, including the scope of the work, the timeframe for completion, and other pre-qualification details.
- Contractors and construction businesses decide whether the project aligns with their skill sets and capacity. If the project does align, they prepare a construction bid and send it to the client.
- The client assesses all the bids they received and awards the project to the best-fit contractor or business. The bid is then converted into a commitment.
A construction bid is important to both the client and construction business:
- The client uses construction bids to make sure that the company they contract is priced competitively, adds value, and can actually deliver on scope and on time. In short, it minimizes risk.
- The construction business uses the bidding process to ensure the projects it takes on are suitable and profitable. A construction bid also allows the business to communicate its unique selling propositions.
What Does a Professional Construction Bid Include?
Professional construction bids come in all shapes and sizes, and the information you’ll need to include will vary between projects. However, certain elements must be covered to ensure your bid is both competitive and enticing. These include:
- Your contact information. This element might sound obvious, but it’s worth repeating. The client will simply discard your bid if you forget to include your contact information, so ensure you have listed the basics: your business name, your name, your business address, phone number, and email address. You should include the location of the project, too.
- The scope of the project. Here, include a project overview. What will be achieved? What services will be provided? Who will be providing them? Detail the required materials, whether subcontractors will be required, trash removal, safety protocols, and other information. This is your opportunity to demonstrate professionalism and attention to detail and set customer expectations.
- The existing job site. Some jobs require you to conduct a preliminary site assessment. In these cases, include a description of the job site as it stands. Then, outline the actions you will take to respond to the existing job site condition, if any. If the job site needs preparation before the commencement of work, write down who will be responsible for this process, the materials required, and the cost.
- Cost estimation. Instead of including one lump sum, break down the project’s total cost. Note both labor and material costs, as well as expenses incurred should the client decide to go over the scope after the project starts.
- Terms of payment. How will you be paid for the job? Most construction, renovation, and remodeling jobs are paid in installments following project milestones – not in one upfront payment. Note your required down payment and subsequent installments and their corresponding milestone.
- Work schedule. The work schedule covers the project from start to finish, detailing construction milestones in between. For peace of mind, outline the extent to which you will be liable for delays caused by various events, such as challenging weather conditions, world events, and permit delays. In addition, leave room for vacation days, lead time, building approvals, and other external processes that will inevitably influence the project’s timeline.
- Additional documentation. Your bid must include all work required to complete the client’s project – including sub-projects carried out by you or a subcontractor. Be sure to attach all relevant documentation to your construction bidding email. That way, both you and the client are on the same page should your bid be awarded.
The above represents the basics of construction bidding. You want your bid to stand out, earn trust, and ultimately win the project. Here are some of the extras you can include to give your bid a competitive edge:
- Value-added services. How can you give your potential client even more value? Can you add on an extra service? Extend an existing service? Or guarantee some other advantage?
- Communicate your difference. What makes your business the right fit for the job? Communicate your difference throughout your bid, whether that’s your niche experience or access to the latest tools and technology.
- Demonstrate your research. Show your potential client that you understand their position, wants, and needs. If bidding for a commercial project, show that you have researched the company and its past projects. If bidding for a private or residential project, highlight that you know the local area and have experience executing similar jobs.
How to Present Your Job Bid
Once you’ve collated all relevant information, it’s time to put together your bid and present it to your prospective client.
The first step in this process is formatting. While there is no one-size-fits-all way to format your construction bid, you will benefit from keeping the following best practices in mind:
- Position important information near the top. Your bid will likely be several pages long, so don’t bury your selling point (or contact information) on page five. There’s no guarantee the recipient will read the entire thing front to back.
- Use headings to break up sections. Clarity is key to a successful and enticing construction bid. Headings allow the client to quickly find the information they need to make an informed decision.
- Invest in professional branding. A little professionalism goes a long way when bidding for construction jobs, so select on-brand colors and fonts (ensuring they are legible).
Before you present your bid, check for two things:
- Accuracy. Read over your figures. Have you included every labor and material cost?
- Typos. Spelling and grammar mistakes detract from your messaging and undermine your professionalism. If possible, ask a colleague to run their eyes over the bid before go-time.
When you’ve perfected your construction bid, it’s time to present it to the prospect via email or in person. The delivery method you use will likely depend on the client’s preference. Most individuals and companies favor email. However, some may want to meet in person to discuss the project and your bid.
How to Follow Up on Construction Bids
You’ve emailed your construction bid. You’ve waited several days. Still, you hear nothing. Now what? You want to follow up with the client, but you don’t want them to feel pressured or uncomfortable.
There’s an art to encouraging a client to sign without overstepping, and it starts with timing. First, ensure you’ve given the prospect enough time to read your bid and compare it to others. Depending on the scale and complexity of the project, this could mean waiting three to five business days.
When you feel the time is right, consider the purpose of your follow-up. You might be eager to get the ball rolling, but it’s important to keep the client’s needs in mind. Instead of turning up the heat and pushing a sale, open the floor to questions. Give them the opportunity to clear up any ambiguities or make further requests.
Here are some questions you might include in a follow-up email:
- Do you have any questions for my team or me?
- Did you need me to clarify any details or costs?
- Does our bid align with the direction and values of your company?
In addition, take a sentence or two to introduce yourself and establish a person-to-person connection. This helps build rapport and puts a name or voice to the bid, giving you a potential advantage.
Make Bidding Your Competitive Advantage
With the right approach, construction bidding can become your competitive advantage. Just remember to be polite, professional, and precise, and follow up without adding pressure.