You Didn’t Lose Your Last Bid Because of Price – Part 1: Proposal

rfp_design_by_brand_constructorsWhen you lose a bid, the first reason most people think of is the price. In a best value bid, you don’t lose because you were not the lowest price. Even if the prospective client says it was because of price, it is actually because you did not explain your value (aka price) to them well enough to overcome a lower bid.

In construction, most companies do not differentiate themselves well, which leaves the client confused. When all of the bidders look and sound the same, the only differentiator becomes the price – low bid always wins in this case.

Here are 6 ways to LOSE a bid with your proposal:

  1. Not Following the RFP’s Rules – This sounds like a no brainer, but many RFPs are confusing or at least lengthy. You can’t go rogue and make your own rules because it shows the prospective client that you do not follow directions and will be difficult to work with on the job. Consider the proposal your first test. Also, you must keep in mind that the selection committee is reading more than just your proposal. They are reading 10, 20, maybe 50 proposals. They want to be fair and grade them evenly and keeping things in their order and using their guidelines helps them.
  2. Not Showing Your Related Experience – The client wants a sure thing. They are spending a lot of money and in construction, this can be a career decision that they have to live with for decades. In other words, they can’t get it wrong. They want a team that knows what they are doing and has experience doing it. Many times construction companies assume selection committees know their experience and do not connect the dots that a hospital is similar to a dormitory or hotel because of the multiple rooms aspect.
  3. Overwhelming the Selection Committee – You have to be careful not to load up the proposal with everything. Yes, you need to cover the bases of each requirement and showcase your experience, but you can’t give them a 100-page booklet with every project you’ve ever completed. Most proposals have a page count because a company did this to them before. Remember, they’re reading dozens of proposals. Be concise and to the point.
  4. Hard to Read – The design of the RFP matters because it needs to be easy to read. When you jam too much text on a page or have complicated graphics, it makes it hard to read, which can subconsciously make the reader think you are difficult to work with on the job site. A well-designed proposal communicates the information in a pleasing way and spotlights the key elements. I’ve seen a page with text running side-to-side with hardly a margin in all bold fonts in a small size – it screamed, DON’T READ ME!
  5. No Differentiation – Why should they select your company? Numerous qualified companies are on the table, but what makes you any different from them. If you say, “On time and on budget,” then you’re just at the baseline. Think about your unique experience, equipment, and innovative methods. If you don’t have an edge over the rest of the companies, then you shouldn’t apply.
  6. No Personality – The selection committee is looking for a team they can easily work with and one that matches their own culture and personality. Showing your company’s personality will help attract clients to you. Even if you repel a few companies, others will engage with your team even more. It is better to have 25 clients that adore you than to have 50 companies that are neutral toward you. Passionate clients refer you to other business while neutral businesses move from construction company to construction company.

The only way to overcome these downfalls is with a lower price and none of us want to work for the least amount of money. Read our next post on losing bids because of Presentations.