Construction markets remain competitive, so it comes as no surprise that construction companies have to be at the top of their game throughout a project. One of the biggest stumbling blocks, though, is often at the beginning of a project – during bidding – but there are key areas to avoid in order to make sure your teams stay on track.
1. Overlooking Your Indirect Costs
With an advanced construction managment software to help you, identifying your direct costs on a job is probably pretty easy. But one area that leads to problems is forgetting the indirect costs — those not directly attributable to the project at hand but still likely to be in play.
For example, if you completely own a piece of equipment, you probably estimate the amount of fuel that it uses on a job, but may not consider including the depreciation, insurance, maintenance, and other costs associated with running it. All of these expenses are important to include for your bid to be accurate.
2. Missing the Mark on Profitability
With an ongoing shortage of construction jobs, it can be tempting to bid at every one that comes along, whether or not they’ll actually earn you a profit. That said, calculating profit margin can be tricky, so be sure you don’t undercut your own profitability as the number start flying. Use historic job performance as a predictor, be sure you have the latest labor rates and material prices, and if the math doesn't add up to profitable work, be prepared to walk away.
3. Not Keeping Up with Technology and Construction Management Software
Used correctly, technology can give you a competitive edge For example, bids generally begin with estimates. And how can you improve your estimates? By upgrading your technology.
With the multi-dimensional capabilities of BIM now integrated into many software applications, estimators can see all angles of their work in vastly more detail than before. For instance, an estimator can separate construction components from the overall structure to scrutinize them individually.
4. Ignoring the “Other Guys”
Don’t make the mistake of underestimating your competition. When working on a bid, you’re assessing the project with respect to your company’s capabilities, but if you consider the competition, it may change the way you bid, or even your decision to bid. If two of your main competitors are known for bidding low, you may have to reduce your bid comparatively. Is the job still worth it?
Science Meets Art
Some contractors might say that bidding is a science — you crunch the numbers and stick to them. Others might say that it’s an art — when your gut says a project will be profitable and elevate your visibility in the marketplace, go for it.
The truth probably lies somewhere in between. Now more than ever, you’ve got to do the math and make sure your cash flow can handle the burden of every job. But, at the same time, no one knows your local market and construction company like you do. So your gut certainly deserves a say.
What advice do you have when it comes to bidding?
Written by: Byron Largen, CPA with Mountjoy Chilton Medley LLP (MCM). MCM is a CPA firm with a team of accountants dedicated to construction accounting.