Electrical contractors and electricians need special skills to do the work they do. But knowing how to do electrical work is just one part of it. You also need to know how to bid electrical jobs, plus run the administrative aspects of your business like accounting and bookkeeping workflows, job costing, and payroll.
A lot goes into creating an electrical estimate, so here are some practical tips you can use to bid on electrical jobs.
Understanding How Electrical Contractor Bidding Works
Bidding electrical jobs involves taking several factors into account. Even if the job is similar to others you’ve done in the past, you can’t just assume it will be the same, as all jobs have variables.
To properly bid on electrical jobs, you have to visit the site to get a realistic view of what will be expected and what will be necessary to do it. You have to also factor in any permits or licenses needed, as well as account for unexpected interruptions such as weather problems or change orders.
From there, you’ll create an estimate of the cost of materials and labor, and submit your bid. Once your bid is accepted by the client or contractor, you’ll need to practice good labor management to ensure your electrical contract doesn’t go over budget. Pay rate reports are powerful ways to utilize technology to help control labor costs.
8 Tips to Help You Bid Your Next Electrical Job
As with any contracting job, bidding doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get the job. However, there are good practices to follow that will help increase the chances of you landing that job.
1. Market Yourself
A lot of contractors don’t consider marketing to be a priority, especially if they are small companies. However, it’s worth it to invest in marketing your brand, so you stay in front of peoples’ minds when electrical jobs come up.
Be sure your company vehicles, documents, uniforms, or other company equipment and materials boast your logo and company name. You can begin small by using social media ads or hiring a marketing company to help market your services locally.
Marketing your electrical business won’t guarantee you’ll win the bids, but it will get you noticed, so you’re able to submit more proposals, rather than relying on word-of-mouth.
2. Choose the Right Projects
It may be tempting to bid on a high-paying job, outside the scope of your previous work, but before you do that, be realistic. Of course, if you want to grow your electrical business, you’ll need to increase the sizes and scopes of the jobs you do. But consider what the job entails, whether you have realistic access to the necessary materials and labor, and determine if you have the qualifications to do the job right.
In addition to your own capabilities and resources, be sure the client is the type of client you want to work for. Try to get a feel for their mentality and ensure it’s a client you feel confident you can satisfy. Jobs with unfavorable clients are frequently not worth the time and effort to win over.
3. Understand the Requirements of the Project
Visit the jobsite and examine the true requirements necessary to complete it. Particularly with electrical work, there could be unknown challenges to the job such as poor preexisting wiring, that would require more work than a simple wiring job.
Talk with stakeholders, and find out what their expectations are, as well, and this will help you develop a realistic understanding of what your requirements will be.
4. Create a Realistic Estimate Considering Labor Cost, Material Cost, Etc.
As the supply chain changes frequently, you’ll need to verify costs for labor and materials and any equipment for each job. If you have accurate job costing reports, you can review these to get a more realistic idea of what the job costs will be.
Create a professional-looking estimate that includes line items that clearly explains where you’ve gotten your numbers. Include any electrical components such as wire, boxes, hardware, switches, etc. so your client knows what they are paying for.
5. Add Overhead and Profit to Your Proposal
It helps to have meticulous records and reports to review previous overhead costs and profits. Different types of jobs will have a different markup formula, but for small jobs, in the tens of thousands of dollar range, the average overhead for electrical contractors is 13 to 20 percent. Your markup is going to be your profit plus your overhead, so for smaller jobs, try to keep your markup closer to the 20 percent range.
6. Submit a Professional Proposal
When you are confident your bid is where you want it to be, make sure you have it completed on company stationery when submitting it. Even more professional, is to submit your proposal electronically, which allows your clients to review them faster and, in many cases, accept them immediately.
Always review your proposals before sending to triple-check everything is covered, complete, and accurate.
7. Respond to Questions With Your Proposal
Often, you’ll receive questions or requests regarding your electrical bids. Be prepared to answer these questions in an honest, thoughtful, and professional manner. Try to be prompt when responding, but don’t be reactionary. Rather, consider the questions, research potential alternatives to changes requested, and try to understand why the questions are being asked.
Sometimes clients can be difficult to deal with but taking time to understand their concerns will help you communicate with them better, and make them feel more confident in your responses.
8. Be Open to Adapting
All jobs are different, even if they require the same skill sets. If you bid a job and win the bid, be attentive to what you did right, what worked, and how the job goes. Conversely, if you submit your bid, and it’s declined, try to understand why. Did you bid too much? Did you not offer enough information?
Once you have a better understanding of the things that work and things that could use improvement, you can move forward more confidently, when creating future electrical bids.
Know How to Bid Electrical Jobs
When you are trying to grow your electrical contracting business, it’s helpful to know the most effective ways to create winning bids. You need to have the right tools, just as with any contractor, too, and these will provide additional help in creating professional, accurate, and profitable estimates. There are a lot of software solutions available to help you grow your electrical business. To learn more, read our article, Best Software Tools for Electrical Contractors.