Welcome to the grind: If you’re like most construction mechanical estimators today, you might need to do as many as eight (!!) estimates for every one job your firm wins.
That means you need to muscle the hustle, every single day, with precious little time for analysis or iteration.
- Q: How can you get off the treadmill and find the time to do a proper good job?
- A: Evolve your process.
In this incredibly competitive atmosphere, no one can just keep doing the same thing over and over, and hope to gain ground. So let’s take a look at how a busy estimator like you can improve your bidding process.
1. Look for Where your mechanical estimating bids have room for improvement
First, consider your last 3-4 bids. It shouldn’t take long—just a few minutes to look back and do a little comparison.
For the mechanical estimating bids you lost:
- Did the customer indicate that something was missing or misunderstood about the way you researched, formatted, or presented your estimates and bid?
- Even if they didn’t say so explicitly, did they make any comments that made you think something was missing?
- Can you highlight what it was about each lost job that caused the customer to look elsewhere?
- BONUS POINTS: Can you find a common theme among your lost mechanical bids?
For the bids you won:
- What was it that cinched the win? Was it price alone?
- Did you have a good preexisiting relationship with the customer or owner?
- Did you have a background and/or track record with similar projects?
- EXTRA BONUS POINTS: Can you find a common theme among the bids you won?
Chances are, it was a combination of price, completeness of your bid package, or your unique approach to your bid.
If you notice a comment or theme popping up more than once, this is a chance to do something different, and spend a little more time and attention.
This kind of “post-mortem” analysis of each bid can quickly surface gaps in your current mechanical estimating and bidding process, and each gap you identify provides an opportunity for improvement. If you’re experienced, you can probably answer most of those questions off the top of your head in a few minutes.
2. Customer and prospect interviews
Sometimes, however, it does need to go a little further. Rest assured, you’re going to get a healthy return on this time investment. One simple and effective way to gather information for these “gap analyses” is to interview at least a portion of the prospects and customers you’ve presented bids to, whether you won the job or not.
Just a few quick and simple questions, couched in a sincere desire to continually improve your process, can yield valuable information while also enhancing your firm’s reputation in the eyes of the prospect or customer.
3. Taking a more expansive view of the job
Another excellent opportunity for adding value to your bids and estimates is to seek out ways for your bid to enhance the work of others working on the project.
Are there any areas in the way you organize or implement your part of the project that can make someone else’s job easier, faster, more efficient, or less expensive? If so, include those value-added services or recommendations in your bid. That way, the customer can see you’re looking beyond just your own contribution, actively seeking out ways to add value across the entire project.
How can technology play a part in improving your mechanical estimating? If you’ve read this far, you may very well be thinking, “what you’re suggesting is going to take even longer than what I’m doing already! How can I possibly complete the number of bids I need to if each one takes so much more time?”
At least, not using the same tools and techniques you’ve always used when putting together your estimates and bids.
But, by integrating high-tech tools into your estimating process, you can quickly and easily start producing bids of the quality level we’ve been describing, even faster than you can today!