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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Please comment.
The site work subcontracting market in my area is very busy right now. In order to secure subcontractor availability, many GC's seek to award subcontracts prior to permit issuance and with only the vaguest idea of project scheduling. My production capacity is such that I am able to bid many more jobs than I can do. I want to develop a means by which I can balance my need to backlog work (to prevent 'down time') and the customer's need to hire subs that will be available when the work needs to be done. Please comment on this scenario:

Customer 'A' calls and tells me he wants to award me a job soon that I bid in April. He has all the permits and there's very little that has to happen before I can start. He's waiting for the last plan to be finalized and wants me to price any change before award. The work might start "maybe in late June". Customer 'A' is a very desirable new customer to which I have previously submitted bids for other work but haven't yet 'landed one'.

In the mean time, customer 'B' calls and tells me he's sending me a contract for a job that I bid last week to start "maybe just after the 4th of July" provided however that the considerable amount of site grading has progressed along far enough and the remaining permits are secured. This will be the second job I've done with customer 'B'.

I can't do both jobs at the same time but need to be doing one of them. My concern is that I'll turn down 'A' and then 'B' won't start-up on time. How do I manage this?

One other scenario:
I just received an RFQ for subcontract bids entitled URGENT INVITATION TO BID NEGOTIATED PROJECT . It goes on to note that "***This project is negitiated and ready to start!!*** Site work, July 2005 -Complete August 2006."

My question - Should I submit a bid if I'm not sure I could start in July? It's a big job and will take 2 or 3 days to estimate. There's a lot of demo work to do before I could get onto the site so it's probably a September starter-upper for my work. What do you think?
 

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Ever consider hiring work workers or hire a sub crew?

If the scheduling is as up-and-down and you say, I'd personally stay away from anything that says "time is of the essence" or "schedule guarantee" because they may give a vague idea of scheduling then change it up on you and force you to do the job when your too busy.

If you know you can't do the job, why bid. I'd call the builder and tell him. I like working for you guys but I am already booked out past August. Try to get me the prints sooner next time.
 

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PipeGuy said:
Please comment.
The site work subcontracting market in my area is very busy right now. In order to secure subcontractor availability, many GC's seek to award subcontracts prior to permit issuance and with only the vaguest idea of project scheduling. My production capacity is such that I am able to bid many more jobs than I can do. I want to develop a means by which I can balance my need to backlog work (to prevent 'down time') and the customer's need to hire subs that will be available when the work needs to be done. Please comment on this scenario:

Customer 'A' calls and tells me he wants to award me a job soon that I bid in April. He has all the permits and there's very little that has to happen before I can start. He's waiting for the last plan to be finalized and wants me to price any change before award. The work might start "maybe in late June". Customer 'A' is a very desirable new customer to which I have previously submitted bids for other work but haven't yet 'landed one'.

In the mean time, customer 'B' calls and tells me he's sending me a contract for a job that I bid last week to start "maybe just after the 4th of July" provided however that the considerable amount of site grading has progressed along far enough and the remaining permits are secured. This will be the second job I've done with customer 'B'.

I can't do both jobs at the same time but need to be doing one of them. My concern is that I'll turn down 'A' and then 'B' won't start-up on time. How do I manage this?

One other scenario:
I just received an RFQ for subcontract bids entitled URGENT INVITATION TO BID NEGOTIATED PROJECT . It goes on to note that "***This project is negitiated and ready to start!!*** Site work, July 2005 -Complete August 2006."

My question - Should I submit a bid if I'm not sure I could start in July? It's a big job and will take 2 or 3 days to estimate. There's a lot of demo work to do before I could get onto the site so it's probably a September starter-upper for my work. What do you think?
Its my conclusion that overbooking is necessary for any contractor to stay busy and thus stay in bussiness. Jobs are all to frequently delayed,redesigned and canceled for reasons totlaly beyond contractors control. I have no problem doing this,but in my line of work i'm not subject to any financial penalties for failing to start at a specific time ,no bonding or late completion clauses for my line of work.
 

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bergenbldr said:
Jobs are all to frequently delayed,redesigned and canceled for reasons totlaly beyond contractors control.
Not if you stay away from new construction. ;) What's that saying "too many cooks at the stove..."?


What is it that you do Bergen, because in the new construction world, those clauses are standard in every GC-to-Sub agreement regardless of trade.
 

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I don't know how much you can carry over to commercial work, but I'm booking out into August at this time. Residential is totally different then commercial I realize. I don't count a job as a job or put off anything at all of what I am doing until I have a signed contract and a deposit in the bank, until then it is all just talk, talk, talk...

It's routine for customers who haven't actually signed a contract or gave me a deposit to discuss all sorts of time lines, schedules of when they want to start and so on, I listen to it all but in the end I remind them that it is a first come first served basis and that until we have a deposit and a contract you are going to keep going to the back of the line. I'm at least 60 days away from starting your project right now, and if you wait 3 weeks before finalizing I will still be another 60 days away at that time.

Even after I get them signed up all I tell them is you are scheduled for June, July or August, as we get closer I will keep you informed to my schedule and narrow it down to a week of, and then as we near that week I will contact you to with the exact starting date.

Probably worthless info since commercial is so different.
 

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PipeGuy, I've worked on the commercial GC side of the fence for over twenty years. But four of those years were as a foundation subcontractor.

So I'll stand here at the fence gate and say that you have no choice but to bid all of the jobs. Your experience will have to guide your pricing, as you may choose to be less aggressive (more expensive) with some of them.

Imagine the worst thing that could happen. Getting all of the jobs is a better problem than the lack. A concern for how or whether you can handle it appears to be the cause of your hesitation.

As a GC Superintendent, I see the over-booked problem handled and mishandled.

Some good contractors stay in constant communication, while realizing the "blah blah blah" factor. They also network with other contractors in their specialty to get a feel for available volume of work out there, and a knowledge of who is hungry. But the best thing they do is to drag their feet as long as they can before signing a contract. Heh heh, that's called "negotiating". They are confident they can handle it, willing to bust their tails, and have a back-up plan, such as money budgeted for equipment rental and hiring more people.

The mishandlers of over-booking simply tell lies and make excuses. And everybody loses!

It is very encouraging to hear a contractor expressing this concern. I say go for them all, delay signing the contract and have a back-up plan. BTW, the contract delay tactic is a difficult judgement call, however, it gives you the opportunity to back out. And because of your networking skills within your trade, you may be able to promote a competitor and save face with your client.

But above all else, do not let this issue bog you down. Your thoughtfulness indicates to me that you can manage it.

Go get 'em!
 

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I'd just like everyone to know in my neck of the woods "commercial" doesn't necessarily describe new construction. It does describe a building to be used for commercial purposes, such as a store or office building. It can be both new construction AND remodeling/upgrading.
 

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Grumpy said:
Not if you stay away from new construction. ;) What's that saying "too many cooks at the stove..."?


What is it that you do Bergen, because in the new construction world, those clauses are standard in every GC-to-Sub agreement regardless of trade.
Grumpy, we only do remodeling residential and light commercial,we sub approx. 1/3 of the work. Still think the need to overbook for reasons mentioned applys to almost all contractors, wether sub ,g.c., replacement etc. .
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for all the good feedback gents. It helps settle the sometimes murky waters.
 
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