Tips for Increasing Subcontractor Engagement on Bid Day

How can General Contractors Receive More Subcontractor Bids on Bid Day?

Tips for Increasing Subcontractor Engagement on Bid Day

This is a question that is constantly on the minds of any construction professional looking to grow his or her bottom line. While there are many possible answers, only a few true solutions exist.

Think of it this way – In today’s hot construction climate, as a general contractor you are a buyer and your potential subcontractors are the sellers. Without question or debate, this is a seller’s market! So the challenge becomes, how do you stand out among the noise and improve the likelihood that your project will be chosen by the sub to invest their time, energy, and money to submit a bid?

Here’s five tips for getting more bids…

Spread the love

Working with familiar contractors is safe but if you always award your projects to the same group, you can’t expect to get very much attention from outsiders on bid day. So if you want more bids, you’ll need to branch out. Accomplishing this will require you to step out of your comfort zone and take some risks from time to time, but it is necessary to avoid limited participation from others. This is also necessary to avoid overinflated bids. In many cases, if a sub knows they have a very little chance of winning they will send you a higher bid than what they might send another GC that they feel will give them more consideration.

Personalize your invitations

No, subs don’t expect a handwritten note, but if you consistently misspell their name, company, or worse – use generic placeholder content – your invite is more likely to be looked over during the busy season.

Don’t send invites that are irrelevant

If you are constantly mass mailing bid invites to your entire subcontractor database, you’re bound to leave more than a few of them wondering why you’re wasting their time. If a subcontractor takes the time to dig into your project, only to find that you’re requesting bids that have very little to no involvement with their trade, they will start to skip over your invites in the future.

Clearly, state the size, location, project timelines, etc.

Don’t make your subs work too hard to find out basic project information, such as where the job is located. Also, don’t let your invitees assume that a job is in the same area as where you’re located. If a subcontractor spends several hours working on and compiling a detailed estimate, just to find out the site is outside of their travel limits, you’re going to have one very unhappy contractor who will most likely assume all of your other projects are outside of their travel limits and never submit a bid again.

Additionally, if bid or performance bonds are required, clearly, state so upfront as sometimes this can be a deal-breaker. Even larger, financially stable subs can be at their bonding limits with current projects, so it’s good to ensure they don’t spend hundreds or thousands of dollars working on a bid for your project only to find out they can’t deliver due to the bonding requirements.

Make it super easy for subs to bid on your projects

This is probably one of the easiest things to do, but most firms just don’t take the time. Using a solution like STACK makes for a seamless bidding experience for your subs. STACK will automate or easily enable you to do the following:

Rotate the plan pages – if you’re dealing with a busy sub, that has multiple opportunities with looming deadlines, make on the plan pages easily viewable by making sure every page has the correct orientation.

Name the plan pages – For many subs, working with PDFs and other image files isn’t second nature. When the plan pages are named appropriately, it’s easier for them to find what they need. Making this process less painful for the sub makes it more likely they’ll spend time preparing a bid.

Organize project documents into trade folders when possible – If your own estimators will take the time to do this work for themselves, why not extend the same courtesy to your potential sub-partners?

Make all of your files keyword searchable – This is a huge time saver. When your subs can simply type in a word, number, or phrase to receive a list and pinpoint the exact location of the respective detail across an entire plan set, they’re less likely to miss any important bidding information.

Deliver project documents using free takeoff software – Here’s the game-changer that has delivered the most value for General Contractors: Using STACK! Simply copy and paste your STACK project link directly into any Invitation to Bid tool to provide free subcontractor takeoff software! Also, by delivering your project documents inside of STACK, your invited subs eliminate the need to download any files while gaining the ability to perform takeoffs directly on the plans you’ve shared.

In Summary...

Incorporating some or all of these tips as part of your standard operating procedure is bound to increase your bid coverage and give you an advantage over your competition.

Create a free account with STACK and talk to one of our experts to learn more!

Share This Page:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Get The STACK Newsletter

Learn tips & best practices to quickly grow your construction business.

Recent Posts


No More Catastrophic IT Issues: EWS Switches to STACK

Exterior Wholesale Supply provides commercial and residential siding installation across six states in the Southeastern US. The residential side of the business used Planswift for …


Winning Bid vs. Profitable Project: What’s the Difference & How to Find the Right Balance for Your Business

Construction is an industry where margins are often razor thin and success depends on every tiny moving piece going exactly as planned. With so many …

STACK Release Notes

STACK Release Notes: September 2021

What’s New in Version 6.5.437 New Features and Improvements   – Released Estimate Home   – Users can now export their own custom item list …

Every Day is Demo Day

Shopping Basket

Get The STACK Newsletter

Learn tips & best practices to quickly grow your construction business.

Before You Go...

Get The Contractor’s Ultimate Guide to Bidding and Winning More Profitable Work.
You’ll discover 9 actionable steps to increase your bottom line.