Whether you do residential work, new construction or large, multi-phased commercial plumbing projects, it’s vital to nail the estimate and bid in order to win those lucrative jobs. On many larger projects, plumbing contractors must submit bids well ahead of the scheduled start date, which can affect the final costs of labor, materials, permits and other common jobsite factors.
Good estimating skills are key to avoiding under- or over-bidding a job, which can cause you to lose either money or the job.
Visit the Property
Blind bids are seldom a good idea, so get familiar with the property before starting the bidding process. Schedule a walk-through with the homeowner or property manager. Better yet, having access to the site plan or architectural or demolition (remodel) drawings will give you the best handle on the scope of the project. A walk-through will also allow you to get to know the client, answer any questions and discuss any areas that might involve hiring subcontractors.
Calculate the Variables
Thanks to technological advances, plumbers have some very powerful tools available that can make the estimation process easier. There’s a wide range of estimation software on the market designed with you in mind.
• Sage 100 Contractor offers a wide array of business management options for small to midsized construction, plumbing and electrical companies. The suite of applications includes estimating, accounting, service and project management scheduling and cost.
• McCormick Plumbing Estimating software is specifically designed to handle the needs of companies in the plumbing and mechanical piping industries. This software provides the best strength in estimating and bid management applications.
• QuoteSoft Pipe provides some powerful estimating software for plumbing, piping and mechanical contractors in search of an easy-to-use tool. The software estimates labor hours and materials costs for valves, piping and fittings very well because it’s built around a database containing more than 100,000 standard plumbing items.
Creating a Client-Friendly Bid Proposal
Whether you’ve crafted 10 or 1,000 bid proposals, it’s always a good idea to break everything down into easily understood laymen’s terms. Being both thorough and clear is often the difference between an average and impressive bid proposal.
• In addition to breaking down the project, create separate line item sheets that summarize the work and costs associated with hiring HVAC, construction or electrical contractors.
• Be specific about the costs and materials required to finish the job.
• To cover the risks and responsibilities you take on, include all pertinent information regarding local code requirements and how you’ll negotiate any changes to the original plan.
• Don’t forget to include a formal contract for your work. This will give the home or building owner the information he or she needs on your payment rates and dates, work terms and other requirements.
Submitting a Bid Proposal
Putting together a bid proposal is somewhat like creating a resume and cover letter – it’s all about the first impression. However, don’t be tempted to submit your bid by either mail or email. Pitch them in person. Explaining the bid to potential clients not only attaches your face to the job, it can alleviate the possibility of misinterpretation or miscommunication regarding bid content.
Instead of simply and impersonally sending the bid packet to the client and waiting for a response, make the time to walk the client through the itemized list. Explain exactly what each itemized cost entails and state your reasons for your figures being different from another plumbing contractor’s.
End each written bid proposal with a note of thanks toward your potential client – even if you presented it in person. Thank him or her for considering your bid and invite them to contact you with any further questions before making their final selection.
This advise, thought it makes some good points, is too generic. Different types of clients have different needs when it comes to estimates. For example, in B2B relationships, submitting bids with a personal touch would get more laughs then projects.