How to Win a Construction Bid: The Complete Guide

Published Categorized as Project Management
Construction Bid Discussion Onsite

Construction bids are the most important part of the industry. Without the bids, you won’t be able to find work for your business. Fortunately, it’s not too hard to win bids if you know what to look for. If you’re tired of losing bids or not knowing where to start, you’re in the right place.

To win a construction bid, you need to analyze the competition, highlight your company’s strengths, and set reasonable deadlines. Work with your customers to prevent your company from blending in with the rest of the bidders. Stick with your prices and keep them close to other companies’ prices.

Throughout this article, you’ll also learn the following info about winning a construction bid:

  • How you can stay competitive and beat other companies
  • Different tips to win a bid each time you apply
  • Knowing how to be ahead of the game on every project
  • The best suggestions to win repeat customers

Learn More About the Competition

Knowing the competition is the key ingredient to winning bids every time. You shouldn’t try to win a project if you don’t know what you’re up against. After all, you might be over-presenting yourself or not doing enough.

Here is how you can analyze your competition:

  1. Borderstates suggests that a great way to know your competition is to find their online profiles. You’ll be able to see which services they offer, how much they charge for their work, and what your company is better at. Furthermore, it’ll show you the projects they’ve done in the past.
  2. Learn more about why other companies keep winning bids. Are they offering budget-friendly prices or are they the go-to company in the area? Both of these issues can be taken care of, so try to figure out why they’re beating the rest of the competition each time.
  3. Figure out when their projects start and end. If you bid while they’re busy, they won’t be part of the competition. Try to find out if they’re working on long projects so you know when the best time to apply might be.
  4. Consider contacting the competition to ask about partnerships, agreements, and other business relations that could be beneficial for both parties. These methods are often the best way to keep each business from getting in front of the other.

Always Show Your Past Work

You should have a series of papers, contracts, pictures, and other files highlighting your company’s strengths. Potential clients won’t be very impressed if they have nothing to go off of. It’s essential that you have some sort of resume for your company when it’s time to bid.

Unfortunately, if you’re not getting any bids, you won’t have much to show. For this reason, make sure that you’re photographing and documenting every project, even the ones that might seem insignificant. You never know when a minor detail could be the deciding factor among a pool of bidders.

On that note, keep a wide variety of projects documented. Swimming pools, houses, landscape design, ductwork, and everything in between should be a part of your skillset. The more you’re able to display on your bid, the higher your chances of leading the pack.From the eyes of the client, they just want the best work for the best prices. If your past work matches their expectations, you’ll be all good to go. For more information about knowing what the client wants, why they want it, and how you can make it happen, proceed to the next section.

Review the Customer Before Making a Bid

Knowing the customer’s details will allow you to know all sorts of information before you place a bid. Since planning should be at the forefront of all bids, you should have extensive knowledge of the client ahead of time.

Here is what you’ll learn from analyzing the customers prior to bidding:

  • You’ll be able to find out if they’ve hired construction workers in the past, what they expect from their bids, and what hiccups might present themselves. In the industry, some clients are easy-going and others are picky about every detail. Try to find out which type of customer you’re dealing with.
  • Knowing your customers will give you insight into whether or not you’ll be able to adhere to their budget and timeframe. It’s no secret that some people can spend more than others, while some people will have specific, non-negotiable deadlines. You might not even want to bid if you can’t fit their demands.
  • If you make it to the final stages of winning a bid, your customers will be flattered that you took the time to learn more about them. Know their names, their city, and other details that might become useful later on down the road.

Apply As Quickly as Possible

Construction Business Owner believes that quickly acting on a new bid can put you at the top of the charts. If your customer is trying to get a job finished as soon as possible, they’re more likely to choose one of the first bids.

That’s not to say that you should rush a sub-par bid just to be a top applicant. It’s a good idea to have a few details filled out on a stock bid. That way, you can fill in the blanks and get started with your bid. Coming up with a brand-new draft can be time-consuming if you’re doing it for every client.Furthermore, Construction Business Owner states that you should apply within the first eight days to increase your chances of winning a construction bid. It shows clients that you’re ready to start the job, but it’s also a reasonable time window that doesn’t rush your company.

Keep things clear and concise, attempting to have the bid turned in within the first four days. The sooner, the better, but don’t apply within the first couple of hours or you’ll look desperate. This sort of action might cause more harm than good.

Improve Your Pitch

Some bids involve verbal interactions and pitches. Customers are much like job interviewers in the sense that they want to know why you’ll be a better fit than other applicants. If you have a pitch ready to go, you’ll be prepared to appear confident and in charge of the situation.

Much like the application process, you shouldn’t make the pitch look too prepared. Try to practice an outline, but it needs to flow with the conversation. Tell the customer why your company is the best choice.Try these tips when making a pitch:

  • Use the customer’s name or company name while explaining how you’ll improve their ideas.
  • Excitedly describe what the final product will look like and why it’ll be an excellent choice for the client.
  • Explain how you’ve done similar projects and how well they turned out in the past. This step will give customers confidence that you know what you’re doing. It also lets them visualize what they should expect from the final presentation.

Work on the Technology Part of the Business

Almost any guide for construction bids that you’ll come across suggests working on the tech side of your construction business. After all, it’s important that you stay updated with current means of communication.

When someone wanted a building made or cement poured, they used to check the yellow pages or take a trip up to a warehouse. These days, almost everyone uses the internet to get the job done.

Check out these three methods that you can use to expand your reach with modern technology:

  1. Make a website or a blog for your business. You’ll be able to have a page that displays everything your company does. Many customers will come to look at your website from a simple Google search. You can show photographs, contact information, and more useful content.
  2. You can create an email list that shows upcoming deals, information to help clients, and more. Making an email list isn’t exclusive to online businesses; Construction workers can use this helpful tool to ensure that every customer sees their work. Consider learning about local SEO to grow your online presence in the community.
  3. Get your hands on the latest apps and devices. If there’s an app that you can use to communicate with clients, try that over traditional phone calls and text messages. Having tablets and smartphones will allow you to communicate with customers around the clock, and you’ll also be able to make 3D sketches of the work.

Figure Out Your Niche

Some companies are great at building swimming pools, while others are the top choice for commercial buildings. By identifying your company’s niche, you’ll know which bids you can win and which ones you can’t. Once you apply for the bid, you’ll be able to show that you’re focused on the provided niche.

Construction companies shouldn’t only have one niche, though. While it’s a good practice to know what you’re good at, you don’t want to limit the possibilities. Figure out how you can become the best in the area at one thing, then move on to master other parts of the construction business.

One reason that a lot of people lose the bid is that they show themselves as a jack-of-all-trades company. While it might work with residential bids, commercial companies don’t want a construction team that spreads themselves too thin.Think about it; If you wanted to hire someone to come fix your toilet, would you call a plumber or someone who sometimes fixes ceiling fans, gets rid of pests, and occasionally works on plumbing. It’s a no-brainer!

Go the Extra Mile for Clients

One of the best ways to win bids in the industry is to network with more clients. By going the extra mile and adding unexpected finishing touches, commercial clients are much more likely to recommend your company to other businesses.

You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars out of your pocket to help a company. However, getting a job done right is far different than exceeding client expectations.

Below, you’ll find a handful of methods to go the extra mile for your clients:

Finish Before the Deadline

Plan Grid explains that you can increase your chances of getting a bid by raising your company’s value. How can you do that? Finish before the deadline! Nobody ever complained about having work finished early. You don’t need to finish weeks early, but why not try to shave off a couple of days near the end to impress a customer?

Clean Up After Your Crew

Never leave a job site looking messy. This step should be obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many construction crews leave behind dust, empty water bottles, cans, nails, and old tools. Always clean up after your crew to impress your clients.

Maintain Fluid Communication

Customers are always happy to have good, detailed communication with the crews they work with. Maintaining fluid communication is a skill that will prove beneficial every time. They’ll be much more likely to come back for more work or recommend you to their friends.

Find Out Your Company’s Winning Percentage

A winning rate or percentage is a major part of bidding for jobs as a construction worker. Your win rate is determined by the number of jobs that you’ve applied for in correlation to the number of bids that you win.

For example, if you apply for 10 bids and you get 1 job, you have a 10% winning rate. Knowing your rate is important because it allows you to analyze which types of jobs you can secure and which ones aren’t worth your time.

Construction Exec points out that a winning rate will show you how to take on jobs later on. If you notice that you’re not getting commercial clients ever, you can either work on your pitch or stick with residential clients. Once you’ve built up enough clout in the industry, you can switch back to bidding on commercial jobs.

Educate Yourself About the Location

The location of the job site will give you a ton of helpful information, including:

  • Local building codes that you’ll have to learn about. If you don’t know all of the codes in the area, then you’ll have to start researching. You don’t want to get yourself caught up in legal matters. If your client gets cited for having illegal work, the check will fall in your lap.
  • Every location has unique style recommendations. Consider reviewing local architecture so you can get an idea for what’s popular and what’s not. You’ll be able to impress your clients with local knowledge, increasing your odds of getting the bid.
  • Finally, locational knowledge will keep you updated on the terrain and weather elements. If there’s too much rain or the soil isn’t solid, you might have trouble building different structures. On the other hand, dense clay will take a little bit longer to push through.

These bits are all important since they allow you to learn more about the client’s end goal. When you’re all filled-in with the location, head onto the next section to learn about how you can make a top-notch proposal.

Make a Detailed Proposal

Attention to detail wins bids more than not. If you show that you’re ready to take on a task by filling in the gaps, your client will be more likely to go with your bid.

For example, if you make a proposal that has all of the materials, services charges, trip charges, and labor costs, you’ll often win a bid over someone who charges less but doesn’t include those details. The simple task of going a bit further will show that you’re a dedicated worker.Rather than writing out your invoices on note paper or something informal, make sure you have professional invoices. Each box should be clearly labeled to show the client what the number indicates. Try to use invoices that break down each charge, including taxes and fees.

You could also include how long it’ll take for you to complete the job. While it’s not necessary, this kind of proposal is far more complete than most others. It also avoids confusion and hidden fees that might lose your client’s trust.

Never Add Hidden Fees

Speaking of which, hidden fees can be a serious problem in the construction industry. When you’re making a proposal, establish a strong line of trust by displaying all financial calculations. If you think there might be extra costs, then now is the time to write it down.

Here is a list of fees that you should include on a proposal or bid:

  • According to the Pro Crew Schedule, labor charges should be one of the first things that you list on your proposals and invoices. Most people know that labor is a part of the process, but labor price can vary drastically. Since the materials are often similar, the labor costs could be the deciding factor.
  • Always add supplies and/or materials on the list. These materials might include paint, concrete, special equipment, wood, and anything else used to make the job go through smoothly. If you underestimate the price of the materials, you’ll end up having to take the additional expenses out of your company’s bank account.
  • Make sure the taxes are included in the final number. Show the exact tax percentage in the city so the customer knows what to expect. The final total that they see should be exactly what they pay, not pre-fees and taxes.

Don’t Just Be Another Bidder

Set yourself apart from the competition. You can be another bidder by sitting around and applying to random jobs or set yourself apart by following everything you’ve learned in this article.

Try to meet the client in person. These days, everything is done over the phone or on the internet. While they’re much more convenient methods of communication, meeting someone face-to-face allows them to see who you are. First-time buyers are often wary about having someone in their house or place of business.

Set yourself apart from the rest of the bidders. Do whatever you can to make your company’s name stick out from everyone else. You’ll be surprised by how much this suggestion can have an impact on your bidding.

Consider Whether or Not Each Bid Is Worth It

As you might’ve read throughout this article, not every bid is worth partaking in. If you know you’re not going to win a bid, then there’s no point in trying it out. Perhaps the best way to know is to follow the aforementioned steps to figure out your winning rate. If the rate is too low, then you need not waste your time.Other signs that you should avoid a bid include whether or not there are too many people bidding already if it’s too far out of your skillset, and if you don’t have enough resources to get the job done in a timely manner. Resources refer to the time, man-power, and supplies required to complete the job on time.

Wasting your time with a bid that you won’t win doesn’t look good. It lowers your win rate, wastes your valuable time and energy, and makes you look desperate in the eyes of other customers. When your rate is too low, you’ll end up without many offers.

Search for Repeat Customers

Repeat customers are often the highest form of success for any business. Construction or not, every business relies on customers coming back for more. Whether they want another house or small features around the yard, getting your trust is why a client wants more work from you.

Here is how you can secure a repeat customer:

  • Do a good job on every project, ensuring the most accurate prices, details, and high-quality work goes into each setup. Whether you’re building a small fountain or a three-story building, you should take the same precautions with every project.
  • Stay in contact after you complete the job. This suggestion goes in the category of taking your business to the next level. It shows customers that you care about the finished product, not just their money. Ask how everything’s working, what you can improve next time, and so on.
  • Talk to your customers when you’re at their residence or place of business. Figure out what other projects they’re interested in if this one goes well. Some people prefer to hold off on big projects until they see how small jobs work out. You can send them an email or call them on the phone a few weeks or months later to catch up.
  • Offer deals to repeat customers. Let them know that you can cover the trip charges or take off a certain percentage to get them coming back for another job. Discounts aren’t too common in the industry, so they’ll definitely take note the next time they’re thinking about getting more work done.

As you can see, there are more than enough ways to get repeat customers. If you want to continue thriving as a construction worker, you’ll have to find out how to make it happen. Fortunately, you have all of the tools at your disposal from this section.

Keep Your Paperwork Clean

Don’t let everything get cluttered. Construction companies have to deal with all sorts of paperwork. Never mix two clients’ paperwork together or you’ll never get caught up.

Learn their names, companies, and other important information by taking notes. The easiest way to do this is to have a file for each customer.

Always Stay With Your Deadlines

If you’ve ever dealt with clients, you know that deadlines are at the front of customer satisfaction. People want to have their projects complete by the time that you agree upon. If you’re always late, then you’ll risk getting in trouble and having bad reviews.

The Constructor says that communication is a major part of success. If you want to keep your customers happy, make sure you’re not straying far away from deadlines. As mentioned above, you could consider finishing the project early to impress your clients.

Note: Don’t go ahead of schedule if it means you’ll have to rush through the process. It’s better to finish on the agreed date and have the project completed rather than finishing early and producing sloppy work. The goal is to have the client satisfied with the project and the deadline together!


Construction work is often thought about as a physical, laborious job. While it’s definitely labor-intensive, the paperwork and bidding side of the industry is equally as important. Now that you know how to win a bid, it’s time to keep your customers coming back.

Here is a rundown of the post:

  • Keep individual files for every client so you know all of their details.
  • Make sure that you bid within the first four to eight days to be at the top of the list.
  • Always stay current with modern tech, including websites, emails, texts, and devices.
  • Don’t bid on projects that you don’t have a chance of winning (analyze your win rate).


By Giovanni Valle

Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.

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