Posted: August 17, 2016 | Project Management
By Rick Dill
If it takes you more than 10-15 minutes to send out a Bid Invitation or more than 5 minutes to send out an Addendum Notice, then you’re letting valuable estimating time slip away. Don’t be the last one to use those manual methods of email, fax and spreadsheets. There are affordable bid invitation software programs that can save you countless hours and streamline your pre-construction bid management process. Here are just a few ways that they can save you time:
Time Saver #1: Selecting Subs to Invite
Bid Invitation Software programs categorize your subs by trade for quick viewing and selection. Most have the ability to filter out subs by zip code radius, areas they’re willing to work in, or other categories such as Union, Non-Union, MBE certification, etc., and allow you to create favorites lists to use over and over, or copy a list from a prior project.
Bottom line… Software keeps your subcontractor data more organized and lets you search and find subs faster than picking from a spreadsheet.
Time Saver #2: Sending Out the Invitation
Software programs can do this in one click, automatically emailing or faxing based on the sending setting for each individual subcontractor. Email and fax logs quickly show which ones failed, and most programs have a quick method for correcting the bad emails or faxes and resending in one click. Also, the emails and faxes are each personalized with the subcontractor’s company and contact name on the invitation, as well as the trade you invited them to bid. This adds a level of professionalism that would take hours to do manually.
Bottom line… No more sending a generic email to all bidders or standing by the fax machine faxing individually. Blast out personal invitations to your bidders in just one click.
Time Saver #3: Track Who is Bidding
When subs get your invitations, they simply click a button, “Yes” or “No” to bidding, which automatically updates your bidders’ list. The old method of subs emailing or faxing back their response required a manual input into a spreadsheet. Add the extra time to call or resend to even just the ones that haven’t responded, and you’ve wasted hours of valuable time. Most programs have a feature to automatically resend invites to subs that haven’t responded, so you don’t have to do it manually.
Time Saver #4: Sending an Addendum Notice
If you are sending addendums manually, you’re probably sending to all the subs -- including the ones that said “No” (not bidding). If you are sending to everyone except the “No’s,” that is very time consuming to do manually. Using a Bid Invitation program, you can “Send to All Bidders Except No’s” with one click.
Bottom line… With Bid Invitation software, you can create a Notice and send to only those that need it in less than 5 minutes.
Other Time-Saving Features for You and Your Subs:
- Upload plans and specs into the program when you set up the project, so everything is easily managed and tracked in one place (instead of using a separate FTP site or other file-sharing site). This way, subs can quickly view the plans and respond from the same screen.
- Subs don’t have to log in when you send them an email; they just click a link and get right into your private plan room portal.
- Important Note: Some software providers do require that your subs log in, and some add your subcontractor list to their network of subs, making them available to all other GC’s that use their program (heaven forbid… your competitors!) If you want to keep your subcontractor data secure and private, before choosing your software provider, ask them whether your subcontractor data will be shared with others.
- Allow your subs to update their info, but control what you allow them to update. Some programs allow subs to assign themselves to trades that you don’t want them assigned to, for example. Before picking your provider, ask if your subs can update their own data without your approval.
- Automate your Prequalification Process. Rather than emailing or faxing out a blank form that subs have to fill out from scratch, find a program that allows you to send out an electronic custom version of your form with each sub’s company info already filled in, allowing them to edit as needed. The form is then viewed, approved, and stored electronically for future review.
- Notify subs who weren’t awarded quickly, via a “Thank You For Bidding” notice. They appreciate knowing because it saves them the time of following up to see if they were the chosen bidder, and saves you time responding to those phone calls. Also, notify those that were awarded with one click, and allow the Awarded subs continued access to your plan room, restricting access to the subs not awarded.
By using Bid Invitation software instead of manual methods, companies can save countless hours – hours that can be better spent fine-tuning estimates -- which will ultimately win more projects.
About the author: Rick Dill is the President of PipelineSuite® which he founded in 2002. Rick is also a member of the American Society of Professional Estimators, Orange County Chapter 3. For more information, visit www.PipelineSuite.com or you can contact Rick directly at email@example.com.