8 Key Steps to Win Bids with Construction Estimating Software Part 3
The third in an eight-part series by Phillip P. Gilliam, President and CEO of Discover Software, Inc., Discover Construction Estimating Software
In the first two parts of this four part series on the key steps to winning bids with construction estimating software, I focused on the importance of having a dynamically linked construction estimating software takeoff and estimate system. The next critical step in your bid process is the construction estimating software Proposal.
In many ways the Proposal is the most significant aspect of your bidding process, because it is the first line representation from your company to your client.
The PROFIT-ability for your company will most certainly be enhanced by the LINK-ability, the ADAPT-ability, and the PROMOTE-ability of your construction estimating software proposal and bid documents.
Obviously, without an accurate takeoff and estimate, no proposal, no matter how nicely done, will be acceptable to your client. Furthermore, if your computer takeoff and construction estimating software system is so complex and difficult to use that it delays your bidding process to the extent that you are late producing and submitting your proposals, your bottom line will surely suffer.
Your first consideration for your construction estimating software proposal and bid document systems should be to insure that your entire takeoff values link to your estimate, and the estimate data then automatically and dynamically links to your proposal. No Retyping and No Mistakes. Millions of dollars are lost every year on construction estimating contracts resulting from the simple fact that even when the takeoff and the estimate were calculated correctly, when the information was transferred to the actual bid document, there were numbers transposed or even missing!
Consider this simple example…transposing the number 68 to 86 is a 24% error! Throughout our many years of working with thousands of contractors in the construction estimating industry, we have heard countless horror stories of simple mistakes like these that have nearly bankrupted companies. Can your company afford simple errors like this?
It is extremely distressing if you should miscalculate your takeoff values or construction estimating software figures, but it is even more distressing when the takeoff and estimate values are correct and they are incorrectly transferred to the bid or proposal document. It doesn’t matter why your bid and proposal is wrong, the results can just be devastating.
Numerous independent studies of hundreds of millions of dollars of construction contracts have shown that in negotiated work, 97% of the time, the final decision as to with which company the job is finally placed, was decided on factors other than price.
Regardless of the accuracy and speed with which you finish your construction estimating software takeoffs and estimates, if your proposal is not clear and concise, your bid may be rejected automatically out of hand without the potential client ever taking the time to even review your construction estimating bid or evaluate your capabilities to fulfill the contract.
It has been proven time and time again that on negotiated bids, the more detailed and complete the proposal is, the more confidence your client will have that your bid is accurate, and that your company will perform according to the requirements of the contract. Confidence of this type has a huge impact on the final decision as to which company ultimately gets the job. This is why it is so extremely critical that your construction estimating software is totally adaptable to your exact construction estimating requirements.
The more documentation provided on the bid, the more likely you will be to receive the job. The more likely your bid reflects what is actually required by the RFQ, the more likely that you will be able to eliminate any problems in the implementation of the actual job processes when you in fact start working on the job. A construction estimating software system that is totally adaptable allows for this kind of flexibility.
Your proposal program should allow you to create and then to select from an infinite number of job templates to meet the specialized needs of your customer base…i.e. commercial, residential, industrial, governmental, etc. Each client type could have special bid requirements, and your construction estimating software system must have the flexibility to address these differences.
You can actually use your templates as a check list to list the entire estimate items such as materials, labor, subcontracting, equipment, miscellaneous etc. in thorough detail.
Unfortunately, quite often so much time is spent on the takeoff and estimating portion of the bid process that no time is left to do much more than submit a couple of pages with a very condensed overview of the work being priced. Also because of time constraints, exclusions and variations in the bid are not properly flushed out, leaving considerable ambiguity as to the issues of “I said, he said, she said”. Ambiguity of this nature can ultimately lead to damaged relationships, and potential lawsuits.
In an attempt to save time, rather than have a dynamically linked construction estimating software system, many contractors refer back to old computer documents in their system, and copy and paste statements into their new construction estimating bid documents.
While this provides a document that sometimes is specific enough to protect them in the event of legal problems, it is painfully time consuming and still leaves the potential for error. It also requires an incredible memory as to which bid had this or that statement, and without a check list, you can still forget to include critical text on your bid that will properly protect you in the event of problems on the job. All of this could be totally eliminated with preset proposals in your dynamically linkable construction estimating software.
Why re-invent the wheel with each proposal?
These types of problems can be averted with a checklist structure in a dynamically linked proposal and construction estimating software system, coupled with a dynamically linkable database of statements.
This database of statements and exclusions can be as specific or as generic in structure as necessary to address the exact requirements of various bids. It should be able to be instantly modified to the specifics of the job without affecting your construction estimating software master database of statements.
This dynamically linked database of statements performs two critical functions.
First it serves as a checklist of possible statements and exclusions that could be pertinent to the actual construction estimating bid. Without this checklist, you may not even think of the critical issues that you need to discuss.
Secondly, these statements being in a dynamically linkable and modifiable format, allows you to properly formulate your construction estimating software proposals with your methodology of doing business, in a leisurely and orderly fashion.
All of us know that “a picture speaks a thousand words.” This is an important concept to be applied with every proposal you submit. The professional appearance and the details provided in your bid speak volumes about your company’s ability to perform. Companies can spend mega dollars on advertising, but referrals are always the best indicators of jobs well done. Your construction estimating software proposals are a means to getting new business and ultimately many referrals. Each proposal is an advertisement, and promotes your company.
For this reason, it is important that your construction estimating software proposals have the capability of including pictures and detail drawings as an integral part of the bid and submittal. Unfortunately, the inability to easily link pictures and other graphics to proposals and bids, keeps most of us from providing this extra step that could ultimately win us the bid.
Remember, your construction estimating software proposal may be the first impression that your client has of your company. Done properly, it will not only get you more bids, but also will protect you legally, as it starts you off on the right foot with your new customer.
In my next and final part I will discuss the importance of client management software and link-ability in your construction estimating software system.
Phil lives with his wife Lila and their family in Largo, Florida. He is a mechanical engineer and computer software developer with over 35 years experience in the construction industry. He is the President and CEO of Discover Software Inc. Discover Software provides integrated software solutions exclusively for the construction industry covering all areas of estimating, graphic takeoffs, project management, and marketing. www.easyestimating.com
In our next section we will be covering the importance of the construction estimating software estimate and the critical importance of client management.
© Copyright 2008 Phillip Gilliam All rights reserved.
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