You go fishing to catch fish, not just fish. The guy or gal who catches the biggest or the most fish wins and gets to brag about his or her accomplishments until the next fishing trip. In order to catch lots of fish it takes preparation, planning, tactics, time, and a winning technique. It also takes knowing the right bait and the right place to fish. To win the best contracts or profitable jobs in construction, you also need the right bait and the right targets. Think of your bid or proposal as tempting bait customers will want to bite. Think of your target market as fishing holes with lots of fish who want what your company has to offer.
Just like in fishing, when you decide to bid on certain project or customer types, your goal is to catch either big ones or lots of fish. In order to be successful, you have to spend time researching and looking for the right fishing holes (markets) where fish (or customers) bite often. You also must seek profitable projects to go after, opportunities that’ll give you the best chance to make the most money, and jobs where the competition is low because the barrier to entry is high.
When you offer the right bait and fish in the right spots, your fishing techniques will work and customers will bite your offer at a fair price. The wrong bait in the wrong fishing holes will keep you bidding on the wrong projects against too many competitors with too low prices. To be successful, you can’t keep bidding the same way and doing the same things hoping customers will bite. And when you finally catch a customer, reel them in and decide if you want to accept their offer.
What happens when the fish don’t bite?
Try different fishing techniques, change your bait, or move to other fishing holes. Unlike fishing, stubborn contractors don’t look for new markets, customers or tactics to land more contracts. Frustrated contractors just keep bidding to the same customers over and over, using the same bait and proposal strategies as they’ve always used. Contractors often think if they bid enough jobs, eventually they’ll get their share. This strategy won’t work! Like fishing, you must change your estimating and bidding strategies to get the big ones to bite more often. You have to use the right tackle, different techniques, and tastier bait to get fish to think your bait is better than your competition and continually keep looking for better fishing holes.
Track your catch ratio!
If the fish don’t bite where you are fishing, you stop fishing and move on to another fishing hole. In contracting you need a system to track and determine if your customers are biting often enough. By tracking your catch success rate, win ratio, or the rate at which you successfully hit the projects you bid or propose on, you’ll know what bait to use, customers to bid to, and where to fish for projects. A 5 to 1 catch or bid-hit win ratio equals one win for every five jobs you bid or propose on. Unfortunately, the majority of contractors don’t track this bid-hit ratio and keep bidding to customers or projects against too many competitors without knowing why or when they’re successful or not. To me, this is like going fishing every day, not really knowing if you catch any fish, and starving as a result of not keeping track of what bait works, and which fishing hole has the big juicy fish that bite more often!
Do you know what your bid-hit catch ratio is? In order to determine how many jobs to bid, what type of jobs to go after, and which customers give you a higher percentage of their work, you must keep track of your bids and proposals. Keep track by project types, customers, job size, and location. As you study your trends, you’ll find certain customers give you more work than others, and you’ll discover you do better with certain kinds of projects and markets. From these facts you can decide where you want to fish in the future to improve your win success rate. You can also determine what type of new customers and jobs you need to target to improve your bottom-line results.
Offer tasty bait!
What else you can include in your typical proposal or bid to entice customers to bite more often? Standard proposals with standard exclusions and inclusions are only standard and do not sell or convince customers to buy. Offering a lower price is only one aspect of winning proposals. What does your customer value as much or more than price? When you don’t ask your customer what they want before proposing on projects, you’ll miss opportunities to set your company apart. Every project has unique requirements which are often more important than price. Before you start working on an estimate for customers, always ask them what additional award factors are they looking for on this job from a contractor or subcontractor. You’ll be surprised as their answers can include: guarantees, warranties, supervision, cleanliness, track record, safety, man-power, trained crews, ability to finish on-time, night and weekend work, technology, communication, value-engineering, attention to detail, and may other attributes that can differentiate your company in your proposal.
Use better bait!
On most construction opportunities, the primary goal of your bid should be to get a meeting with the decision maker. At this meeting, you can discuss the project in depth, review how you can help your customer meet their goals, explain why you’re the best choice, review pricing options, get a second chance to be the selected contractor, negotiate, and get last look. It’s very difficult to accomplish this with a standard written proposal, or over the phone. When you meet in person, you can look your customer in the eye, sell confidence, negotiate the price and scope, and shake hands on a contract agreement.
At the meeting, discuss every aspect and option which might influence their decision. Include discussions about enhanced quality, finishing ahead of schedule, lowering the budget, eliminating change orders, your supervisor and project manager, reducing their risk, and meeting their goals. As you present and discuss the entire project requirements and demands, carefully watch your customer’s face, expressions, body language, and reactions to the pricing and ideas you present. Look for clues and suggestions on how you can offer more than what they want and be the chosen winner. To get a copy of George’s ebook: Winning Ways To Win More Work, email GH@HardhatPresentations.com.
Have fun catching more fish!
Like in fishing, not every bid tactic and type of proposal bait will work on every job. But, try them and you’ll like the outcome as they improve your catch ratio as you win more work. When you’re not getting the results you want, change your tactics, try better bait, and find new fishing holes as you look for profitable work.
As a professional construction BIZCOACH and popular industry speaker, George Hedley helps contractors increase profits, grow and get their companies to work! He is the best-selling author of “Get Your Construction Business To Always Make A Profit!” available at his online bookstore at www.HardhatPresentations.com. E-mail GH@HardhatPresentations.com to sign-up for his free e-newsletter, join a peer mastermind BIZGROUP, attend a BIZ-BUILDER Boot Camp, implement the BIZ-BUILDER BLUEPRINT, or get a discount for online courses at www.HardhatBizSchool.com.
George Hedley CSP CPBC
Phone: (800) 851-8553