Bidding Proposals

This is a different blog post today. I had a discussion with a customer who was at a loss as he received a request for a proposal to fix a drain, waste and vent line without any video or specification for the work to be completed. It brought me back to over 25 years ago when I was introducing CIPP lining to customers who had no idea what the process was or whether it would solve a problem with their sewer draining systems.

When people have a problem, they need solutions. They usually apply their own personal knowledge base to solve their problems and may use technology that doesn’t exactly fit or is out of date due to their lack of knowledge about other solutions that may better fit their problem. For example, if you only know about excavation and you have a failing sewer line across a busy highway, you may apply a solution of rerouting traffic so you can close that section of road while you excavate the old pipe to be replaced by the new pipe. That worked years ago before traffic got heavier, and more and more people traveled the highway.  But imagine cutting a 6-lane freeway and routing thousands of cars around your worksite.

What do you do then when someone wants you to “bid” on a job with no specifications and very little information to give you enough information to price it out? There are 3 paths you can take:

  1. The first path is to walk away from the job and forget responding. While this option may be good if you have an unlimited amount of work already, it usually tells customers not to look to you to solve future problems. While you may be overbooked today – cultivating new customers is always better than watching a dwindling customer base who drift away for a variety of reasons.
  2. The second path is to throw out a bid that is low and plan to present change orders as the work progresses. Many contractors choose this plan, but it does have pitfalls. Change orders can cause heartburn for your customers. They may not have the money to pay the changes. They may feel you are charging them for things that you should have included in your bid. More often than not, the customers are a one and done with you as a contractor.
  3. The third path is the one I chose. That path is one of becoming the contractor that helps them navigate through the process by educating them. This is giving them enough information to help them make an informed decision and often their choice is that you as you helped them figure out what they needed. This may include writing a specification they can use if they still need to get “bids” for the job. If you are the one writing the specification for them, you can add in features you or our processes offer that aren’t offered by competitors giving your competitors a disadvantage in bidding the work. Working this path will make you the expert in the eyes of the customers and the first choice in performing the work.

We help customers regularly with writing specifications, setting standards, and educating the end users with enough information to help them complete a job successfully instead of ending up in legal battles that only the lawyers win.

For more in information contact us at 888-354-6464. You can also email us at

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