Most growing contractors need to win more bids – but how can you increase your output when your estimator is already short on time, burning out, and lacking confidence when the majority of his bids don’t get chosen? There’s an app for that.
Why You’re Not Winning Bids: A Series of Unfortunate Estimating Events
Does this sound familiar? Your preconstruction team scrambles to find documents, plans, and information from ITBs. They spend large chunks of time measuring blueprints and then putting together estimates, poring over price lists and doing calculations. Down to the wire, they miraculously submit the bid package just under (or over) the deadline and do it all again the next week. And then, the job (and the next job, and the next job) goes to someone else. All that time used up for nothing.
This is maybe how the bid process had to work 30 years ago. But it’s definitely not the way it needs to be now, and it’s time for your company to get ahead of the game.
Speed & Strategy
To win more, your estimators need two things: tools to better use their time and tools (and time) to reduce mistakes and make good decisions.
Bid More to Win More
No matter what your bid-hit ratio, you know your chances of winning increase with the number of bids you submit. Your estimators aren’t super-human, but STACK’s preconstruction software is. Here’s how to get more out of the workday without hiring more people and still reducing your estimators’ load.
Takeoffs in Minutes, Not Hours
STACK’s simple, user-friendly interface and keyboard shortcuts make measuring for any trade fast and easy. Set your scale and start clicking to measure linear area, surface area, volume, arcs, pitched area, counts, and more.
Tips, Tricks & Shortcuts for Takeoffs
– Autocount: identify the number of items such as sprinkler heads or fixtures
– Hyperlinking: easily switch between related plan pages with automatically created links
– Search: find exactly what you need on each page
– Cut out: remove features from measurements, such as windows and doors
– Undo: eliminate mistaken measurements
– Copy & paste: easily duplicate measurements on identical sections of plans
– Rotate: duplicate measurements for identical features with different orientations
– Multiplier: Duplicate calculations for identical floor plans or units
– Plan overlay: Visually compare plans to quickly identify changes
Get Rid of Manual Math
When your team has to do the calculations for amounts of materials and prices based on their measurements, those math moments add up, even for folks who are great with numbers. With STACK it’s different. You can attach items and assemblies (groups of items) to each takeoff either before or after doing your measurements so that material amounts are automatically calculated for you.
This feature alone saves our customers hours. Depending on the complexity of your business and your trade, you can use custom items and assemblies, which do take some time to set up on the front end, or we offer multiple out-of-the-box standard options for many trades, where your estimator just needs to answer a few questions and they’re ready to roll.
Centralize Data & Pricing
Items and assemblies not only offer material groupings and counts, but you also get access to our BNi regional pricing data, which will calculate an average of what your material costs will be in your geographic area. Of course you also have the option to easily mark up your prices on an item or project basis, and you can input your own price list from your suppliers if you prefer.
The point is that having pricing connected to material lists means all the math is done for you. What used to be a massive time suck is now completed in a few clicks – and with much more accuracy.
Reinventing the wheel for each bid submission is inefficient. Instead, get a process together that you can repeat as much as possible. Here are several functions that can be templatized and standardized within the STACK app.
– Takeoff Library – Pre-built takeoffs include items and assemblies and have measurement type assigned in advance so you can get started right away with the right information rather than adding it every time you need to measure.
– Include labor in assemblies – When you know how much a crew can complete in a given timeframe, you can include labor within your assemblies so you can bypass adding it separately to your estimate later.
– Save your scope of work and terms & conditions – Inputting your legal documentation to STACK allows you to attach it with any proposals you export; no more copying and pasting or rekeying long documents.
– Provide different quote breakdowns – STACK gives you the option to customize proposals with a simple click, so you can include detailed pricing structures, general pricing, breakouts by phase or elevation, or other custom options.
Bid Better to Win More
Now that you’ve sped up your processes so you can get more bids out the door, you’re at a huge advantage, and it’s time to step back – before you start increasing your volume – and get a plan together. More bids don’t mean more winning projects unless they’re submitted with a strategy.
Give your estimators some breathing room to take a break now that they’re not behind. Encourage some long overdue PTO, and when they’ve come back refreshed, get together to discuss tactics.
Collect & Collate Data
If your estimators are managing ITBs, tracking down information, and sending out bid submissions, it’s probably time to consider hiring a bid coordinator to take on some of the administrative burden. This person will specialize in collecting and collating data from multiple sources.
Simply keeping track of all this information will free up your estimators to focus on proposals rather than searching for data. But remember that the more you grow and the more ITBs you receive from different GCs and platforms, the tougher it will be for any one individual to do the job, and eventually it will pay off to purchase a bid management tool.
Don’t increase your volume without doing some close examination of past successes and failures. Go back through past projects and find common threads among the ones that were profitable and the ones that were disasters. Think about:
– Which types of work is your crew best and fastest at performing?
– Which GCs pay promptly vs which delay payment?
– What are the location limits that make a project cost prohibitive?
Your team should take these factors and any other relevant aspects of each project into consideration before doing any initial preconstruction planning. If a job has red flags, don’t waste your time bidding. Pass on it and save your time and energy for better opportunities.
Keep a Current Bid Calendar
Having instant access to your team’s schedules and workload, as well as project timelines, is a must for making good bid decisions. In a high-functioning team, the bid coordinator can quickly calibrate which estimator to assign projects to based on availability, and when a team member is out unexpectedly, everyone has easy visibility into project statuses to pick up the work without missing deadlines.
With clear insight into what’s upcoming and what everyone is working on, it’s much easier to get bids out more quickly and take on the projects that will work best for you.
Automation & Cognition: The Winning Combination
The best way to meet the demands of today’s bid process is by utilizing your team’s strengths rather than bogging them down with unnecessary tasks. That’s where STACK comes in: let us do the calculations so your team can use their brains for bigger things. Get started today.