Construction Monkey

Construction Monkey Blog

Last week I wrote about how proposals could help you win work more than numbers.  I know that this is a controversial issue and most contractors are convinced that low cost will win the project every time, but in my career that is simply not true.  Your customers are looking for the "lowest responsive bidder" and outside of someone buying the project or being smarter than you if they are much lower than your number than you have more or they don't have enough.  The question is did you explain this to your client? 

In sitting in thousands of bid rooms after the bid and hearing that we are probably not going to get the job, I hear all of the reasons we got beat.  The amazing thing is that most of this information is not in the proposal to our client.  After the fact mentioning these items only looks like desperation by the "loser".  When it is done prior to the bid or as part of the proposal it is viewed as educational and your client will consider you the expert on the project.

When developing your proposal, spend time thinking of all of the pitfalls of the project.  This is typically done during estimating, but in lieu of just adding cost to cover these issues, carry them over to your proposal or start a dialog with the client.  For example if you have a project that includes maintenance pits in the floor and your installation must take place 30' above these areas well after the pits are installed, make sure your client understands that you have included the scaffolding required to do the install because the standard lifts would not work.  When others bid the project it will become a checkoff question for them which will even the playing field.

Think about the parts of the projects that are most concerning for your client.  What scares them about the project?  Focus on these things and make sure you address them in your proposal.  If it is the delivery of materials, explain to them that you have that covered, how you have taken care of it, and convey a message that puts them at ease.  By doing so, you are filling the fundamental needs of your client and will start to differentiate yourself from the competition.

Each project is unique and thus every proposal should be.  Remember that you are trying to win a project, not just estimate it.  In the ultra competitive world that exists today, you cannot rely on being cheap to win work.  Even cost effective contractors must add more reasons for their client to select them and a good focused proposal is a great way to win the project.

About the Author

Craig Pierce

Craig Pierce has been working in the construction industry for the past 25 years helping subcontractors master their trade. Currently he is President of Atalanta Enterprises which provides consulting services to contractors And software solutions through