by Joe Rowland
Director, Bidding Services
Experienced construction contractors know that writing a winning bid is part art and part science. Finding the right balance between these two is where the sweet spot lies.
Let’s start with the science side. First, are you capable of the work? Do you have the qualifications, time and capacity to make it happen? Answering this question frankly and honestly will save you a lot of heartache down the road. Look carefully at the contract requirements and determine if bidding is really in the best interest of your company. Now, look at the timeline. Can you put together a successful bid in the allotted time? Do you have time to get information from any potential subs, DBE quotes, etc.?
Preparing an initial draft of your bid is the next step in the science side. This is where a slight omission can cost you the job, so be sure to double check the forms, bonding, DBE and signature requirements. Math errors can be a big issue here too, so doing multiple reviews of your pricing is a good idea. The expanding use of Internet bidding services is a big help in this area. Online services, such as the Bid Express service, alert you to errors and omissions, allow you to validate your bid bond electronically, verify DBE or other minority participation, and calculate extensions and overall bid totals for you. This can help you avoid a fatal error that may end up resulting in your bid being marked unresponsive or invalid.
Now that you have a rough idea of the bid total, the art side comes in. How does the bid look? Which competitors do you anticipate will also be bidding? What 4 or 5 items are the major ones where the job will be won or lost?
Using a bid analysis service can be a big help at this point. If you can view historical bid item prices by location and competitor, you can see how you measure up on those key items. The Bid Express service at www.bidx.com offers a task-oriented analysis service as an additional option – the Bid Express Advantage. With the Advantage service, you can compare your past bids to past bids from other contractors per location and see the items that you have historically won/lost on.
Now, how does your bid look in those key items and what adjustments can you make? What other projects will be occurring simultaneously? How badly do you want the job? Are sub-contractors and suppliers giving you their best prices? These judgment calls are the art of bidding and the more lettings you have under your belt, the better you will be at them.
A combination of science and art results success in the highway construction bidding process. Using the analysis tools in the Bid Express service can be a differentiator for your firm.