4 Ways Subcontractors Can Win More Work

subcontractors win work

If you’ve ever had doubts about the resiliency of the construction industry, Autodesk’s new data should put any misgivings to rest. Findings from our Construction Outlook report indicate that real-time bidding activity has surpassed pre-pandemic levels and hit an all-time high in January 2021.

Things are certainly looking up, and subcontractors are now seeing more opportunities coming through the pipeline. But with more bids comes more competition, and to ensure your company stays competitive, it’s important to be strategic and organized with your bidding and project management practices. 

In this post, we’ll go over several ways subcontractors can improve their bidding practices in order to win more work. 

Let’s get started.

1: Centralize Your Data

Being all over the place with your bidding information is costing you time and money. If you’re still using paper documents, email, spreadsheets or (heaven forbid) a combination of all of the above, you’re likely missing out on project opportunities.

For starters, it can take a tremendous amount of time to sift through documents, emails, and sticky notes so if the information you need is stored in multiple places, you could end up losing critical information or even miss deadlines entirely. 

Manual bid tracking is a cumbersome and costly process, so it’s no wonder that ninety-nine percent of subcontractors who track bids in email or Excel miss multiple bid invites a year.

The good news is that there is a simple fix for all of these issues. As a subcontractor, you should adopt a cloud-based bidding solution that enables you to store bidding information and track everything from a centralized location. 

With the right platform, you can have all critical details — including deadlines, project details, and communications — in one place so you never have to hunt down for documents or details when preparing your bids. 

What’s more, cloud-based solutions enable you to access data from virtually anywhere. You don’t have to be in your office or in front of the computer to find and retrieve information, which means you can take action and move forward with bids even when you’re out and about. 

All these benefits lead to fewer missed deadlines, less stress, and ultimately more project opportunities. 

2: Leverage Technology to Manage the Increase in Workload

Having a lot of bid invites and opportunities is generally a good thing, but things could go south if you’re unable to meet deadlines and demonstrate that you can stick to a defined schedule. Construction revolves around strict timelines, and you being on time can make or break your chances of winning a project. 

With bidding activity at an all-time high, it’s essential that you equip yourself with tools that will enable you to keep up. 

This is where technology comes into play. Digitizing how you track and manage bids will streamline your processes, allowing you to get more things done with less time and effort. Essentially, the right technology can help you bid smarter and faster, so you can handle higher volumes without running yourself to the ground. 

As Jim Lynch, senior vice president and general manager, at Autodesk Construction Solutions, explains, “Now that the industry looks to be picking up and teams are headed back to the job site, adopting technology, digitizing workflows and upskilling employees is more important than ever to handle the increased workload.”

He continues, “For instance, despite a 40% spike in bidding volume, we’re seeing that almost 80 percent of teams using BuildingConnected are still able to turn around bids in the industry standard of seven days. Managing this increase in output with no significant dip in productivity simply would not be possible without the right technology.”

3: Streamline the Takeoff Process

Accuracy is critical when it comes to submitting — and ultimately winning — bids. You need to ensure that all the costs, quantities, and measurements specified in your bid are correct and on target.

Today, many subcontractors still do takeoffs manually -- including with paper drawings. To reduce potential errors, save time, and increase bid accuracy of bids, subcontractors should look to streamline the takeoff process with the use of technology. 

There are several solutions available that can automate tasks like creating takeoffs to ensure accuracy. Takeoff solutions can also make data more accessible, allowing you to easily see historical information and costs comparisons so you can come up with better estimations in your bids. 

Plus, if you’re using cloud-based takeoff tools that are built on a unified platform, you can integrate different workflows, thus enabling you to have better visibility into the process and collaboration with other teams. 

All in all, a tight and well-executed takeoff process results in a highly-informed and more confident bid — one that not only increases your chances of winning more work, but also builds ongoing trust with general contractors who rely on accurate bids. 

4: Utilize Data to Improve Performance

Construction professionals make smarter decisions and see better outcomes when they have the necessary information. When you’re a subcontractor, having the right data not only helps you win more bids, it allows you to win the right bids

Tracking bid data allows you to surface insights into what’s working and what isn’t, so you can double down on the things that you’re doing well and make changes and improvements where appropriate. 

Continuously monitoring your data also makes it easy to spot trends, which can aid in decision making. Tracking your hit rate, for example, allows you to identify the general contractors that are worth your time, so you can build strong relationships with them. Meanwhile, tracking the performance of estimators and other key players in your team can help you figure out how to step up your team’s game. 

The benefits of tracking bidding data are clear, yet the majority of subcontractors — 65% according to BuildingConnected — aren’t tracking their win rate. So by simply collecting data and keeping an eye on your metrics, you’re already propelling your company’s bidding strategy ahead of the competition. 

Fortunately, getting your hands on the data you need is simple when you’re using digital construction tools. For starters, these solutions keep all the information you need in one place making them more accessible. 

Plus, most bidding technology and construction platforms have built-in reporting features that allow you to quickly visualize data and gain insights. 

Now is the Time to Digitize Your Bidding Process

As the construction industry continues to bounce back, you can expect more bids and opportunities to come your way. 

Digitizing your bidding practices enables you to handle more work, stay on schedule, and improve bidding accuracy, all while giving the data you need to continuously improve. 

In short, having the right construction technology ensures that you and your team are well-prepared to submit bids that can win you more work.

Grace Ellis

As Manager of Content Marketing Strategy at Autodesk and Editor in Chief of the Digital Builder Blog, Grace has nearly 15 years of experience creating world-class content for technology firms. She has been working within the construction technology space for the last 6+ years and is passionate about empowering industry professionals with cutting-edge tools and leading strategies that improve the quality of their jobs and lives.