Contractor Talk - Professional Construction and Remodeling Forum banner

1 - 20 of 42 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
377 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a new framing/drywall contractor. Been picking up work here and there, but it hasn't been great. I have been doing a lot of bidding for a few different GC's. As many as 12 -15 bids for one, and i know for a fact they won some of those projects. They keep telling me my numbers are good/competitive, but I'm not getting any work !! Don't mind pricing, because i could use the practice estimating, but this is getting ridiculous..I'm just gonna start billing them hourly.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,595 Posts
I am not a full time GC, but do mostly residential framing. I would never bid that many projects for one GC without getting any of the jobs. Usually, after three bids, I refuse to bid any more. Some contractors are only interested in the lowest price. Thats never gonna be me. Its tough starting out. Network with people that you have worked with before, and consider joining your local trade organizations to increase your exposure.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,425 Posts
Sounds like you are being played, a good contractor would not string you along for all those estimates without throwing you a bone, GMOD
 

·
General Contractor
Joined
·
3,444 Posts
I'm a new framing/drywall contractor. Been picking up work here and there, but it hasn't been great. I have been doing a lot of bidding for a few different GC's. As many as 12 -15 bids for one, and i know for a fact they won some of those projects. They keep telling me my numbers are good/competitive, but I'm not getting any work !! Don't mind pricing, because i could use the practice estimating, but this is getting ridiculous..I'm just gonna start billing them hourly.
Two things.
Ask what they need that you aren't offering. (not just a lower price... perhaps next-day service, or an added feature that relieves them of a task, or makes their work easier or faster)

Put your thinking cap on, and sell yourself with something no one else has.

I used a higher priced lintel pumper exclusively because they did three things for me. They handled their own hose... brought plywood (sometimes I did supply it) for covering the blockwork inspection holes, and nailed them in place... and they sent one man the next day to remove and haul off the cover pieces.

Be creative. You have to give them something no one else has thought of doing.
 
  • Like
Reactions: BamBamm5144

·
General Contractor
Joined
·
3,444 Posts
Also (and do NOT sell this one short) develop a sharp, professional presentation, both in your personal approach, and in the physical proposal package you leave with them. It should BE a true presentation piece...... a pocketed folder with a clear plastic cover, complete with your logo, bolded headings... AND THEIR company name and address prominently displayed. This is their special bid. Make it look like it.

A crappy little piece of paper just doesn't cut it.

Some of the worker mentalities will tell you none of that is necessary. But it is time, in this economy, to learn better right now. You have to shine and rise above the rest, now, more than ever.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
377 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
willie T.-
you're making valid points, but i submit a very decent proposal, on company letterhead, well typed and clear. I usually send in a PDF format. If i sent every proposal in a folder or portfolio I'd be broke.
I also make myself available for GC's all the time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,444 Posts
willie T.-
you're making valid points, but i submit a very decent proposal, on company letterhead, well typed and clear. I usually send in a PDF format. If i sent every proposal in a folder or portfolio I'd be broke.
I also make myself available for GC's all the time.

I would also have to say that you're getting played. Move on
 

·
General Contractor
Joined
·
3,444 Posts
:) As Dr. Phil would say.... "And how's that working for you?"

You're young. You've got time to catch on. :thumbsup: ;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
23 Posts
I also think you're getting played.

Call the GC back and ask how far off you were from getting the job the last couple of bids. Then let him know that you've presented him with with "X" amount of timely, clear, and fair bids, and yet nothing has come your way. Let the GC know you'd like to do a job for him/her. Be confident in telling him/her that you will deliver a professional job at an honest price, on time.

If he doesn't give you a response you are comfortable with, don't bother with putting in the work for any more bids for this GC. Your time and effort is valuable. You are a professional and you should be treated as one.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,716 Posts
I second the "you are getting played" by this guy. He's likely got an hourly crew to do the work.

He just needs a price to complete his bid sheet. You are saving him a lot of time-However he is happy with his costs using the crew that he already has.

Just a guess-------------MIKE---------------------
 

·
Dave from Macatawa
Joined
·
277 Posts
there is a difference between "bidding" and submitting proposalss to GC's.

If you go to Dodge reports or Bidclerk and got on a bidder's list for projects, your bid would be given a specfic due date and time for your bid. Many times there are public bid openings and if you attend, your bid and your competitor's bids will be read and you will know exactly how your price compared to other bidders.

Sometimes you will be asked to submit a "bid" for a project but this could be the GC just shopping numbers. Many times a GC will use other bidder's pricing to negotiate with his favorite bidder. This is just wrong but it sounds like what is going on with you.

A good GC will ask for bids by a specific date and time and then award to the qualified lowest bidder. Emphasis on the word "qualified". If you are a new bidder the GC should interview you either before or after the price to determine what jobs you are qualified to bid.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
429 Posts
D rock I'm not saying this is the same but back a good while I was being asked to submit bids to a big player in the UK.I would give the specs and drawings to my quantity surveyor with a stipulation on what I wanted for each hour on the job
Funny thing is I was never the winning bidder but I still had to pay the Q.S. win or lose.No big deal it just comes of the tax.One Monday morning I turned up on the site and asked for the forman Carpenter I asked him "are you looking for Carpenters".Yea start tomorrow,after a few days I got close to the guy that cleans the office,these guys know every thing that's going on.
Turns out the Carpentry contractor and the contracts manager are brother in laws.OK but I still could not see how their prices would work?It was the day work that was being bumped up and split between them.Life is life just move on something stinks in the deal. billy
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
377 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks gentlemen,
I figured it was time for me to move on from this particular GC, but I wasn't sure if I was jumping the gun. I figured because I'm a newbie, I gotta take the punches before they start giving me work. I'll just beat down the door on some other GC's. The most frustrating part is the non-communication. None of these people ever tell me honestly where my pricing stands.
 

·
Contractor of the Month
Joined
·
26,075 Posts
My policy is never email or mail a bid. Always meet onsite with the bid and go over the details. You want to build a relationship not have the lowest number on the page.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
377 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
My policy is never email or mail a bid. Always meet onsite with the bid and go over the details. You want to build a relationship not have the lowest number on the page.
Good policy. However, most of the time i'm submitting bids to estimators who sit in an office most of the day. I usually meet with them on 'walk throughs'. Emailing is just less time consuming, but whenever I can, I like to meet face to face with them.

Brickie,
You ask why i'm getting my work from GC's, the answer is because i am not a GC. I don't usually deal directly with homeowners, and in truth, I'm gearing the company to be a commercial outfit. If I do get a residential job, it's mostly super high end and those jobs come exclusively through CM's and GC's via the architects.
 

·
General Contractor
Joined
·
3,444 Posts

Ten Tricks for Building Relationships with General Contractors
By:
S. S. Saucerman

For many construction professionals, subcontracted work (work obtained under a general or prime contractor) can make up a large part of the yearly revenue. That’s fine by itself, but sometimes selling your services to general contractors can prove elusive, even a little frustrating. After all, you punctually respond to their requests for bids, you’re relatively sure that your pricing is competitive for your market, and you feel confident you have plenty of experienced manpower and equipment to tackle their jobs. But for some reason, you just don’t seem to get the work come award time.

Not getting the work is bad enough, but when you factor in all the resources and office-time eaten up during the estimating process, the return on investment pales even further . . . and you can’t afford to spin your wheels. Running a contracting firm is tough enough without wasting precious hours preparing quotes that don’t deliver the necessary work. Yet if you don’t deliver estimates, you’re guaranteed to not get the work. So what do you do?

Often the key to obtaining work is not so much in the technical aspects of bidding and contracting as it is in more nontechnical areas of professionalism, reliability and relationship (the relationship with the general contractor, that is). As a subcontractor, if you can combine a program of committed client networking with an understanding of the motive forces behind the general contractor (who owns the potential to bring you repeat work), you can greatly enhance your chances for getting the next job. You will need to do the networking part yourself. As far as understanding where the GC is coming from, let’s take a look at a few tricks you can use to solidify your relationship.

1---Despite what you may have heard or think, most GCs do not base their choice of a subcontractor on low price alone. The GC’s philosophy goes something like this: In most cases we generate far more revenue through action (the action of building, that is) than we do by dissecting half-percent differences in sub-quotations that are normally “apples and oranges” anyway, Always, as we wade through our daily pile of subcontractor and supplier quotes, we hope in the back of our minds that the proposal we’re examining right now is the one that’s clear, complete and competitive (not dirty-low, just competitive) enough to meet the demands of the project, allowing us to move on to our next course of more profitable endeavors.

This isn’t just rhetoric. I’m a GC, and many times over the years I’ve chosen to go with the second or third highest number simply because I felt more trusting and confident in that subcontractor’s ability to get the job done. When weighing an $80,000 subcontract line item, $1,000 or $2,000 is peanuts compared to the money that would be lost for non-performance or correction of faulty or non-complying work. Remember, too, that it’s not just the cost of the fix that we worry about. There’s also the corresponding drop in the GC’s credibility that almost always seems to spawn other “concerns” from the project owner as the job goes along.

2---If you’re approaching a GC for the first time, work up a one-page introductory (or re-introductory if it’s simply been awhile) letter telling a little about your company. Don’t make it too long and complex or it won’t get read. Include your current address, phone/fax numbers, principals, key people, e-mail address (if you have one) and the services you offer.

Be specific about what you do. If, in addition to the conventional norm for your trade, you offer other services (such as a sitework contractor who also does dewatering, shoring, etc.), list it in your letter. Don’t assume the GC knows everything about you and your company. That extra bit of information may get you the job.

3---Follow up with a phone call to the prospect (in person is probably better; read on). Most CC estimators keep a file—computerized or written— of subcontractors and suppliers broken down by trade and often in CSI (Construction Specifications Institute) format. When a job comes up for bid, the estimator uses that file to send out bid invitations via postcards or bidfaxes to those subs and suppliers that are effected by the bid. When making your call, a good opening line is: “It’s been awhile since we talked. I just wanted to see if you received my letter and update my information for your subcontractor list.” Then, of course, add something new to say. The estimator will almost never just take the info and hang up (unless he’s on a bid deadline—in which case you don’t want to take up his time. Tell him you’ll catch up later). Conversation normally ensues, and that gives you a chance to fell him out about potential work opportunities.

4---Offer to give budget numbers. GCs work up budgets for clients all the time. Having your budget number used up front increases the odds that they'll come back to you come “hard bid time, simply so that you won't have to repeat a lot of information.

5---Subscribe to a reporting service like F.W. Dodge or Construction Market Data. These reports tell of construction projects that are coming out for bid in your area. The bidding GCs are normally listed (check this again at bid time; names will have been added), and details about the project are included. These reports also normally offer information on contract awards, work in planning stages and negotiated work (where subcontractor proposals will be requested by one awarded GC). Armed with information from the reports, you’ll be more knowledgeable and professional when talking with the GC. You’ll know what’s out there to bid, who’s bidding and which GCs are getting all the work.

6---Most subcontractors and suppliers (actually, most people in general) hate this one, but get out there and practice the age-old art of making the “cold call.” This, of course, is where you walk in unannounced just to let them know you’re around. Yes, this can be difficult to do, but never underestimate the power of social skill. I’ve seen it work too many times. Everyone, no matter how staunch and business-like they may appear, wants to work with someone they consider to be a friend. It’s simple human nature.

7---A little sidebar to the cold-call advice is that you may also pick up work just by being there. Here’s how it works. Often, in the GC’s hectic daily grind, the importance of getting a job done “right now” far outweighs any minor advantages gained through hard-bidding (as explained earlier). You would be surprised how often (and how much) work I give away simply because the person was standing in front of me at the right time. And, I'm probably going to ask for some unit or T&M pricing, so be armed.

8---The Proposal—Part I: I can testify that when reviewing and analyzing subcontractor proposals, there is a marked difference between the best and the worst in the bunch. Some are professional and complete. Some are incomprehensible and illegible. It seems fundamental, but always be sure to submit clear, whole (all pricing, including alternates) and readable bid proposals. Submit on professional letterhead, and always include a phone number and contact person in case last-minute questions pop up on bid day . . . and they almost always do.

9---The Proposal—Part II: Slapping a single base bid number on a page and faxing it around simply won’t do. Today, virtually all GC bid proposals (especially larger or commercial jobs) require alternate, breakout or unit pricing to be submitted along with the GC’s base bid. If not submitted, the GC may risk being disqualified. Here’s your hook: the GC needs your numbers to complete this requirement.

Whenever possible, get a copy of the actual bid sheet (in the spec book) that lists all required bid pricing . . . and then go out of your way to offer assistance to the GC. It’s just one more thing that can separate you from the pack.

10---Become familiar with—and even solicit—area manufacturers, hospitals, public utilities or any larger concern that often maintains their own construction or engineering departments. The benefits are twofold. You’ll not only pick up work that these concerns choose to bid direct, but you’ll also often find out about upcoming projects soon to be bid. They might even ask if you know a good GC. Pick one you like and give him a call to let him know you recommended him. The GC would be hard-pressed to not be grateful and obligated, should the job come to fruition.


About the Author
S.S. Saucerman is a full-time commercial estimator/project
manager, professional woodturner and free-lance writer. He
teaches Building Construction Technology and Construction
Materials at Rock Valley college in Rockford, Illinois.

****************************

Thought you all might like to see what an expert on the subject had to say.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Wolfgang

·
Registered
Joined
·
377 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Just completed a proposal for a small job. I don't think i've worked that hard on a small job ever. I really want to win, so I revamped everything. Keeping my fingers crossed.
 

·
Al Smith
Joined
·
2,392 Posts
willie T.-
you're making valid points, but i submit a very decent proposal, on company letterhead, well typed and clear. I usually send in a PDF format. If i sent every proposal in a folder or portfolio I'd be broke.
I also make myself available for GC's all the time.
Its easy to see whats going on here. He is taking your professional quote and shopping it to his regular guy, and getting him to cut his price below yours. There is no other reason to ask you for 15 quotes and not get a single job out of it. you are being used as a price control.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
377 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Its easy to see whats going on here. He is taking your professional quote and shopping it to his regular guy, and getting him to cut his price below yours. There is no other reason to ask you for 15 quotes and not get a single job out of it. you are being used as a price control.
You're absolutely right !!!!
 
1 - 20 of 42 Posts
Top