3 Steps to Winning Jobs Over Your Competitors
We asked our Lead Instructor Sid what it takes to win a job over competitors and here’s what he had to say.
The most important thing is to be professional. As a contractor, our industry is known for being unprofessional, not answering the phone, not getting back to people, not meeting our commitments on time or budget.
People want to deal with professional people. So present yourself confidently, dress professionally, show up on time. You don’t need a suit and tie but be clean, organized and prepared for the task at hand.
Keep that point in mind throughout the entire bid process and you’ll set yourself ahead of your competition simply by doing what you say you are going to do with confidence.
The 3 Step Bidding Process
Step 1: Get to Know Your Customer
A critical element to realize is that from the first point of contact, whether they visited your website or were referred to you from another customer, is that they are constantly determining if you are the right person to place their trust and money in.
They are pre-qualifying you and you are pre-qualifying them. At this stage, spend time with the customer, find out what they are looking for and what they want done.
Find out if they are early in the process, still gathering ideas and trying to figure out what they want to do. Maybe they already have specs and plans drawn up and they are ready for pricing. The information you find here guides the rest of the discussion and what your next step is.
Let’s say that they know what they want to do and jump into step 2.
Step 2: Get to Know the Job
At this point, you’ve determined this is potentially a customer you want to work with, now is the time to figure out all the job details.
Start with asking if they already have specs or plans created. If so, ask to see them so you can go through them to determine if the job is right for you.
Then you want to figure out why they are talking to you specifically. Do they want to work with your company or are they talking to you because they are price shopping for the best deal? This information guides how you interact with them. If they already know about you and your company, what can you do to keep their confidence in you high so they sign the contract with you? If price shopping, what can you add into the conversation to convince them that you’re company is the right choice for them.
Here you also want to determine if they have a target price already. If they already know what they want to spend, you need to figure out your quote to see if that is realistic and work with them to adjust if needed.
The customer may simply hand you a set of plans and immediately ask “how much will it cost?” This is where a ballpark quote comes in. Now it’s important to make it clear that this is a range of what it could cost but it would take time to figure out the actual cost of the job. If possible, try to avoid this as you don’t want to be too far under or over on the ballpark estimate and disappoint the customer in the process.
Step 3: Pre-construction Agreement and Deposit
A pre-construction agreement is an agreement between the customer and general contractor to determine a realistic price for completing the job. For many jobs, this takes a lot of time and money to get it right.
To ensure a commitment, we recommend that you charge a pre-construction deposit. This is a process that allows you to position yourselves in the best way possible. You are the ones they trust to get an accurate number and they’ve shown that through their financial commitment.
A pre-construction deposit is typically approximately 1-5% of the cost of the job. So for easy numbers, we’ll use a $1 million home that would be a $10,000 deposit. That money is then used to ensure quick turn around times from sub-contractors and to cover the staff’s time they are putting in to creating a real price for the job.
If the customer has made it to this step, you have a very good chance of getting the job. They’ve taken the time to get to know you and your company, provided the detailed plans or specs for the job, and demonstrated they’re willingness to work with you through the pre-construction agreement and deposit process.
Now, Sid recommends you take this one step farther.
Your Initial Bid
The time to submit your bid has arrived. They’ve already paid 1-5% deposit for you to determine the right dollar amount. Now it’s time to submit your bid.
Here’s how you incentivize your customer at this stage: Provide the guarantee that if they sign that bid to move forward within 30 days, their price will not change.
This goes far into further gaining their trust. Many contractors go to the customer with a “oops I forgot about that and it’s going to cost $XXX.” What you are doing is alleviating their concerns and showing that you are willing to commit to them and their project at the stated fee.
Will there be instances where your costs will increase slightly? Yes, but typically those increases are minor, 1-2%. However, if you have good sub-contractors that you work with that get paid what they’re worth and know the scope of work upfront, you shouldn’t run into many issues.
Next time you bid a project, consider going the extra step to show your customer that you are a professional that is worth working with through this simple, 3 step process.