How to make your construction tender stand out without reducing your bid

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Whenever services are being compared, it can often feel like it all comes down to price, and submitting a tender for a construction contract is no exception. But if you want to make sure your tender stands out from the crowd, you don’t need to lower your bid. With a few changes, you can make sure that all of your tenders stand out from the crowd.

Persuade

First and foremost, your tender is seeking to achieve one goal: to persuade the client that you are the best partner to work with in order to fulfil this contract. So while your first priority is to include any required documentation and information that the client has requested, your second is to build a careful argument that supports this goal.

Personalise

We recommend that you do not send out generic tender documents. The client will be looking for a construction firm that wants to solve their particular problems, and a tender that has been clearly tailored to their needs is going to impress them more than one that is clearly used for multiple tenders.

Research the client

Learn as much about the client as you can, and you can tailor your tender accordingly. The client will probably outline what it is trying to achieve, but it will have other objectives that it will not necessarily share with you. For instance, perhaps the client put the contract to tender because it’s concerned that this is a complicated project with a high risk of failure.

Knowing this, you can highlight your track record of getting difficult projects completed, addressing this unspoken requirement and giving your tender an edge that your competition will lack.

Work to the scoring system

You will have your own ideas on what should be highlighted in your bid, but you need to make sure this matches up with the client’s expectations. After all, if you invest a lot of effort into a low-scoring area, and neglect a high-scoring area, your bid will not progress no matter how good it is. This is a critical area to understand fully.

Use select information

It is tempting to include any information that might be even slightly relevant into your tender, but this can actually harm your chances. Too much information not only leaves your tender unwieldy and hard to consume, it also risks burying your message in details.

Instead, provide the information that the client has requested, and provide details and evidence that supports the points you are trying to make. Leave out everything else.

Show off your experience

If you are bidding on a contract similar to work you have done in the past, be sure to use examples of that work to support your arguments for being the best choice. If you haven’t fulfilled a similar contract, try to find examples that share some aspects of their requirements; perhaps both projects require the construction firm to liaise with a large number of stakeholders, for instance?

Meet the brief

Even if you think that the client would benefit from an alternative to what has been requested, you should only submit a non-compliant bid with its express permission. Even then, it is worth including a compliant bid so that the client can compare it with your alternative solution.

Mirror your words

Unless you are operating in a unique niche, your tender will be compared with those from other firms who are just as capable of fulfilling the contract. Your tender also needs to show the client that you share their mindset and their goals. One of the ways you can do this is by matching and mirroring their language, rather than using your own preferred terminology.

For instance, if the client refers to suppliers as partners, do the same in your bid. If the client calls the contract a step towards building more affordable homes to help first-time buyers, make sure you highlight how helping first-time buyers onto the property ladder aligns with your values. These are subtle hints that you will be a good fit with the client, and give your tender an advantage.

Get your submission right first time

Spelling and grammar errors are unlikely to cost you a contract, although such mistakes can leave the impression that your firm lacks care or diligence. But a more substantial mistake could potentially damage your chances. Even if it is an innocent mistake, the client is under no obligation to let you correct it, even if it ends up disqualifying your bid.

Remember the client

The client is not going to read your tender to learn how great your organisation is; it is reading it to find out how you are going to solve their problems. So while it might be tempting to include your organisation’s history, achievements, company ethos and mission statement, none of these things are solving the client’s problems. Include background information, but make sure it is targeted to the client.

Offer value for money

Pricing is probably the aspect of your bid that you will worry about most, but it is not the only part of your tender. Breakdown your price, outline your reasoning for your costs but, if you have done everything right, your tender will not boil down to a single figure; it will represent excellent value for money.

Of course, there is no way to guarantee that your tender will see off the competition. But following these tips will certainly get you to the front of the pack, where your skills and experience should do the job.

Construction tender checklist

  • Persuade
  • Personalise
  • Research the client
  • Work to the scoring system
  • Use select information
  • Show off your experience
  • Meet the brief
  • Mirror your words
  • Get your submission right first time
  • Remember the client
  • Offer value for money
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Written by Lee Styles

HSMS Scheme Manager - Company expert for 'Occupational Health and Safety' Standards; OHSAS 18001 and ISO 45001. Additional assessment expertise for the following standards; ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 27001.

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