What are the Top 6 Mistakes in Developing a SOQ?

What is a contractor SOQ?

Your Statement of Qualification, also known as the “big brochure” and SOQ, plays a huge role in landing your next big project and increasing your number of good bid opportunities.

The purpose of this 60+ page document is to tell your prospective client why you are qualified to work on their project. When you go after the high-competition projects, your SOQ may be the deciding factor between you and another general contractor making the finalist bid list (you know – those top three companies that will get the interview invites).

How can you look at your SOQ objectively?

SOQ, Statement of Qualification for a General Contractor, on a desk

Sit down with it and ask yourself these questions:

What impression does your SOQ make of your company?

As your prospective client thumbs through the pages, can they get a sense of your valuable job experience and passion for client projects?

Are they impressed by your unique specialized equipment, or the innovative way your team overcomes the inevitable contingencies that occur throughout a project?

Do they get the feeling that your construction group is a stream-lined, professional team who is more than capable of handling large multimillion dollar jobs?

No? Then, keep reading.

Your SOQ/”big brochure” is essentially your pitch to say, “This is why my company is qualified and the best fit for your $50M or $500M+ project. This is why you need us specifically”

icon of hands shaking with and SOQ behind them, as in closing a construction deal. Then an equals sign and a bag of money icon. The graphic symbolizes that a successful SOQ helps you close the deal and make the contractor more money for the project

So how do you make a better Statement of Qualification to spotlight your construction company? 

Let’s take a look at some common mistakes we have seen when reviewing company SOQs. Avoid these, and you will start to set your company apart from the competition.

  1. Avoid turning “professional” into a “template”.

    First impressions are vitally important when differentiating your construction company from competitors. An SOQ should deliver a powerful, dynamic first impression that spotlights what’s unique and valuable about your organization.How to decide if your SOQ is more of a template:

    Take an outsider’s look at your SOQ and give it a good read through. If you think you could switch the logo to that of another company and no one would notice a difference, then you’ve got a template with no real differentiation. If this is you, it’s time to add a little “unique differentiation” to your SOQ design and content.

    A good construction marketing team would never let you take a template SOQ into an important prospect meeting. If they can’t determine what sets your company apart from others, than they are saying it’s only about being the lowest bidder, and not any other factors. If you only go after lowest-bid jobs, you probably don’t need a quality SOQ.

  2. It has all the nuts-n-bolts, but no soul.

    You’ve got all of the essential content for an SOQ -company info, past projects, equipment, awards, standout people, etc. Is  there anything that shows the culture of your company…The “why”?

    No matter how big or industrial a prospective client seems, people always connect on a human and emotional level when making decisions.

    Instead of focusing on an organizational chart of your company, add elements that let the buyer know who you are. Spotlight your founder’s principles, the reputation you’ve earned through the generations, unique safety program values, innovative approaches to the build trades, etc. What “feeling” about your company would a prospect get if they only had your SOQ to go by? This is what we want to ask ourselves when designing a great SOQ

  3. Remember, the SOQ is not only about you.

    While this is a statement as to why your construction company is qualified for a project, make sure that you are positioning your claims as to how your company can benefit them and their specific project. Less information on why you are the greatest contractor who ever lived (although we are sure that you are).

    Make the SOQ about the prospect and their needs.

  4. The hierarchy of information is disorienting.

    A common mistake in construction SOQ development is structuring it around a company’s subsidiaries or divisions instead of being prospect-job-focused.

    Are you building your brochure around subsidiaries or divisions? If you are then you run the risk of overlapping services or spotlighting irrelevant geographies. Worse, you may be leaving the consumer confused as to how you are the best solution to their needs.

    Build your statement from the outside-in, and keep it focused.

  5. Missing the opportunity to showcase expertise.

    The project section is the meat of any bid package and SOQ.

    This is where you get to show how your company delivered the best quality results possible. Don’t miss the opportunity to show off your expertise.

    When you include nothing but logistics – materials used, value of the project, etc. – you miss a chance to truly differentiate yourself. Instead, maybe include what made the project special, how you made it happen, how your company made a difference in the outcome. Show and detail specific examples of how your construction company handles projects better than others.

  6. You’re shooting yourself in the foot with a boring layout.

    This “big brochure” can be up to 60 pages in length. A short novel about your construction company is going to challenge someone’s attention.

    Try to avoid a boring layout with walls of text and small photos thrown in. Naturally we would suggest you get one professionally designed (by us of course).

    Our clients have landed over 40% more projects since we designed their SOQs.

    Nothing makes us happier than a healthy project backlog for our clients

What else should your company SOQ be?

An impressive extension of your branding.

This is ultimately your chance to brag about what sets you apart from the competition, your specialized credentials, resource-ready specifications, and the capabilities of your impressive staff.

Good Business Developers will take advantage of this tool and use it to shine. Or, without it, they can pass unnoticed by using a flyer or brochure that resembles every other company in the area.

SOQ’s should impress decision makers.

Throwing that opportunity away is like throwing money out the window, and fewer bid opportunities will result.

Is your company old news, outdated, resource-poor, and slow? We bet the answer is ‘NO.’

So, give yourself an edge against the competition, and take the opportunity to stand out among all other GCs.

Oh… and about those redacted parts… We can’t give away all of our secrets. If you want to know the rest, shoot us an email or give us a call.