Sunday, March 27, 2016

"Getting Into A Bidding Contest With Your Competition Won't Produce Many Victories"

Government and large businesses have perfected the art of requesting and reviewing bids. They usually require three separate bids for a project or proposal they are considering - sometimes just to purchase a quantity of supplies from a vendor. There even are sealed bids where no one knows where they stand - including the entity requesting the bids - until they are opened at the published time.

This has spilled over into our private lives. Often we feel that we can't make a major purchase without checking with multiple dealers or businesses to find out who is offering the best price for what we want, the best terms, or the best deal including incentives or other items that might be part of a package.

Of course, as we shop for items that we want, the internet has made it easier for consumers and more difficult for businesses. People are reluctant to commit to a purchase without researching it online, reading consumer reviews, and searching for an even better price - even from hundreds or even thousands of miles away.

So, as contractors and remodelers ready to help people with their home modifications or providing aging-in-place services, we frequently are faced with the request to prepare a bid. Bidding is time-consuming and usually non-productive. Leave the bidding for auctions where at least you'll have an idea if you're winning. People looking for the lowest bid won't care about quality as much as the price.

When we bid on a project, one of two things - if not both - are possible. First, we don't get or have all of the facts. Someone else who is bidding on the job will be given more information on what is needed or be provided with helpful information that may give them an advantage in writing an estimate or preparing a bid that matches the customer's budget and scope of work.

Second, we meet with the customer - devoting time to driving to the appointment, taking measurements, and asking questions about what is needed. Then we have to conceptualize how to approach the work product before taking several more hours to prepare a detailed estimate.

The consumer then takes our bid and shops other contractors until they find someone willing to do the job that we designed for less money. It's always possible to get it done for less - especially when there is a sacrifice in the quality or design, workmanship, or materials.

The best way to approach a potential job is to be invited through a referring and networking system where there is a good chance that we will get the job because of how we were recommended. Occasionally our schedule doesn't match up with when someone needs the project completed, or our price may be more that they have anticipated or allocated for the work. Still, there is no bidding in the sense of just submitting an estimate to factored into all of the other companies submitting their bids.

It's hard to remain productive and profitable when we spend so much of our time just preparing estimates and getting outbid by someone who is willing to do the job for less. Let's be more strategic and work with leads that we generate and cultivate or with referring professionals who prepare the consumer for what we can provide.

____________

Steve HoffackerCAPS, MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.