The 7 major components of a winning electrical tender

Project tendering
The 7 major components of a winning electrical tender

Are you bidding on electrical tenders?  In a highly competitive industry, you need to create bids that stand out if you want to make it into serious consideration for the contract.  A winning electrical tender takes time, thoughtful planning and knowledge of the process. Unfortunately, many companies make the mistake of rushing through them, or not giving proper consideration to the requirements set out in the pre-qualification questionnaire.  You want your bid to make it to the top of the pile, so let’s look at the components of a winning electrical tender:  

1. Price accuracy

Price accuracy is a major factor in electrical tenders, both from your clients and your own perspective as the contractor.  There’s often a relatively slim margin between you and competing tenders, but any pricing inaccuracies on the high or low side can be enough to either knock you out of the running, or get you accepted based on how cheap you are. Of course, going in too low can be a disaster for your company when you sign a contract, then find the real cost of the job is much more than anticipated.  A common mistake is simply not factoring in all of the components which need to be counted and priced. It’s a tedious job counting take-offs, one prone to good old human error if you’re using traditional methods of manually counting. An automated software solution such as Countfire can be the secret ingredient to ensure that take-off side of your tender preparation is done quickly and accurately.  The main types of errors we see which you should be aware of include:

  • Omissions of any sort. This might be take-offs as stated above, but it may also include things like missing out permit or fee costs, or items detailed in the project's specification.
  • Price changes. Is there likely to be a price increase between tender submission and the planned start of the project?
  • Material allowances are too low. This happens especially if you’re getting an estimate from a subcontractor who hasn’t factored in enough for materials.
  • Surprises on the job site. Sometimes conditions are found that weren’t known before or there have been errors made with construction or design.

2. Return on time

This one is plain and simple - if you don’t return your tender submission by the stated due date, yours won’t even get looked at. Enough said!

3. Build relationships

Here’s something to consider: people buy from people. It always helps to have built a wide network of relationships so that you can speak to people who you already know.    As this story from Jim Dougherty for Harvard Business Review highlights, within good business relationships, other people become invested in your personal success too. If they know and like you, they want to see you do well.  It’s human nature to gravitate toward the people whom we already know, so this is something that can at least help your bid get a second look during the tender process. Sometimes that old saying “it’s not what you know, but who you know” applies, including from being invited to put in a bid in the first place.  So, how do you go about building relationships? One thing to remember is that it’s something you should do as a matter of habit. Make yourself known to every person you meet, whether in work or social settings.  When you’re contracted for a big job, you’ll potentially meet facilities managers, engineers, corporate liaisons and many other, well-connected people. Engage them in conversation, let them know who you are and what you do, and leave them with a business card—and don't forget to follow up!

4. Use the client’s preferred format

Find out if the client has a preferred format for how you present your pricing and give it to them in that format. For example, they might want separate costings for each floor, for fire alarm systems, fittings or for tenant/landlord areas of a building. Pricing schedules alone can end up being 100 or more pages.  When you first receive the pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ), always read the specifications, including any preference for formatting.  You might find this to be an arduous task, but if a client is looking at tender bids and expects a certain format, they will likely be drawn to the bids which meet their requirements rather than any that are in a different format. Why would you award a contract to someone who doesn’t follow instructions?  Is there a way to make this any easier, rather than manually dividing up areas of drawings and counting the components? There is now with Countfire’s software. You can select different areas of a drawing for automatic counting and easily present your bids in a format that the client would like.  

5. Use positive language

We work in an industry where people are known for straight-talk and getting right down to business, but that doesn’t mean that an overall tone to your bid won’t get noticed. A generally positive tone will shine through and help to get your bid noticed, whereas any sort of negative language will create a poor impression.  There are a few things you can do to ensure that the overall tone of your bid is positive:

  • Use confident, affirmative language. For example, replace “would” with “will” and avoid language that conveys any doubt, such as “in our opinion.”
  • Use positive words which generally give an upbeat impression. For example, “efficient,” “proactive,” “strong,” “trusted,” “quality,” and “success.”
  • Try using an active voice (although don’t overdo it). An example of this is shown below. The first sentence is a passive voice while the second sentence is reworded to be active:“ABC Company would provide you with a dedicated manager.” “ABC Company provides you with a dedicated manager.”

The difference is subtle, but the second version leaves a slightly more positive note.

6. Be compliant

You’ve got to be compliant with all points of the specification for the tender. Specifications are bound to include minimum qualifications to do the job, as well as:

  • Possessing any relevant accreditations.
  • Having relevant previous experience.
  • Meeting requirements for policies and procedures.
  • Possible requirements for turnover rates in your team.

Besides these points, make sure you’ve actually answered any questions that have been asked and provided evidence where necessary. It can be helpful to get a second person to quality-assure your paperwork and see that it’s meeting all of these points.

7. Give good examples

If you want to pack a bigger punch, provide some good examples of how your company makes a difference for your clients.  Use brief, specific case studies which highlight benefits you have provided to a client. For example, have you saved them money? Built something innovative? You might even include short testimonials if these communicate the story well.  

Final thoughts

It’s no easy task to win an electrical tender, but you can boost your own chances significantly if you take your time to go over the specifications thoroughly and to make sure you’ve hit the key points they are looking for.  Be accurate with your pricing, answer all PQQ questions and make sure you turn it in on time. Preferably, you should start writing your tender bid as early as possible, so that you give yourself the best chance of doing a good job.  Get someone to check your work if you can and look out for conveying a positive tone. Putting in a tender bid might be a tedious task, but you can improve your chances of winning if you follow a clear strategy and include these major points.