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Proposals – You Can’t Live with Them, You Can’t Live without Them

Bidding, estimating and creating proposals to sell the project

With all the estimating and bidding complaints I get from contractors, it seems to me that rather than being a positive experience, the whole subject of bidding, estimating and creating proposals is often the bane of existence for professional contractors.  I have had clients tell me that when they hear that a prospect is going to get three bids, they don’t want to have anything to do with it.  So why is this, what do these terms really mean and what can we do to survive in spite of what often seems to be impossible odds?

Let’s first start with some terms and let’s look at what we can do to handle the confusion that goes with getting projects.  Bidding usually implies that the price is most important.  That means if you are bidding you are competing based on price.  Rather than trying to close the sales based on price you would be better off focusing on the advantages to your client of working with you and your company.  To do that you should clearly identify those differences which will benefit your potential client.

There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding surrounding the whole topic of estimates and estimating.  It starts with the offer for a free estimate and homeowners’ ideas that an estimate means the price for the job, rather than a rough idea of what a project may cost.  It then evolves into the potential client expecting additional free services including a complete design or design analysis, a project plan and the calculation of the exact price for the job.  Everyone who has gone through this knows that it is a very time consuming process with limited payback.  To make matters worse you are often doing it blind-folded because you don’t have any idea of what the prospect’s budget is for the project.

Rather than focusing on bidding and estimating I recommend that you focus on the prospect, their needs for their remodeling project and how you can best meet those needs.  Find out what is most important to your prospect in choosing a contractor.  If it is the price you will at least know where you stand and you can determine whether or not to pursue their project.    If they want to work with a professional contractor who will do a quality remodeling project then you should help them to see how you are different and how those differences will be beneficial to them.