In it to win it: How to increase your odds of winning


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By Jim Lamzela

Special to Ontario Construction News

Tired of losing bids? Discover some of the most common trends that companies are using to increase their odds of winning.

Before the Pandemic, dozens of new high-rises were being built in Toronto, Ottawa and around the continent. The skyline is constantly being changed. In order to win the construction bidding wars on these new opportunities, you’ve got to take a new approach to the construction bidding process.

Follow these five tips to stand above the pack.

  1. Start planning

If you want to take on the construction bidding process in a major way, you need to ensure that you’re ready with a strong plan. If you’re not preparing your sales team for how you want to grow, you could fail to take advantage of gaps in the market.

Take some time to write down your sales and marketing plan with your management team and executives. Set a goal for how many projects you want to win in the next year and within five years. Carve out which market areas you can grow in and which aren’t yielding the results you want.

If you haven’t been carefully choosing the kinds of projects that you’re doing, take stock of which have yielded the best results so far. Make sure you have some type of a lead service like DataBid in place so you never miss one of these opportunities when they present themselves.

Keep your eyes on the horizon. Don’t wait until you finish the project you are currently working on to then start looking for the next project. Successful contractors try very hard to stay busy all year long. Let’s face it, when you’re busy you take on more staff and lease additional equipment. What happens when things slow down? Your staff leaves and goes to a competitor, you still have to make those lease payments and when you do get busy again you end up short staffed. What are you doing now to plan ahead? How do you know what projects are coming up in the next two to six months?

  1. Set a marketing budget

If you haven’t set aside a marketing budget yet, it’s time to outline one now. When you put aside 4 per cent of your overall volume to marketing, you can differentiate yourself from other construction companies. When your bids come across the desk of a potential client, if they’ve seen your name come up often, you will have a leg up.

How many companies are calling you now asking you to submit a bid? What would happen if you could double that, or triple that? Think about what that would that mean for your business. What if you knew of all the active companies that fit the model of the type of company you’d want to work with and knew exactly when they showed any activity?

  1. Follow up with your customers

If you’re not checking in with the clients you’ve already worked with, you are passing up an opportunity to connect. After working with you once and having a positive experience, most clients would be willing to work with you again. If you can build a strong relationship, you can work with that client as their own enterprise expands.

Make a list of your top 10 to 12 customers and make an effort to check in with them quarterly. Put together appreciation events and dinners to thank them for their business and to show them what you’ve been working on since you last saw them.

Use regular emails to talk about your latest projects and what trends in the industry you’re following. If you’re taking advantage of new technology or are at the forefront of a new development, let everyone know via online updates.

  1. Choose your niche

The most successful construction companies will become the best in a certain niche. If you have a specialty or a certain piece of machinery that other construction companies do not have, show it off. Having the biggest crane in town means that you can build the tallest towers.

If you’ve completed some challenging and exciting design-build projects, let your clients know. Have your product featured on the DataBid Blog or in Ontario Construction News. Work on taking over the niche where you think that your products and services will be appreciated the most. When you meet a new client, let them know what they can expect from you by leading with those most exciting projects.

  1. Get referrals

When you’re trying to win more bids, you should leverage your previous bids into an effort to win new bids. Talk to your previous clients and see if they can refer you to other clients. Offer them a discount or service in exchange for their time and energy.

Your most loyal clients will be able to refer you to other developers or soon-to-be homeowners who want to have something built. While you can get direct referrals from your clients, you can also get a buzz going with some feedback online.

Ask your best clients to leave a review for you on Google, Yelp or LinkedIn. When you have some customer feedback to back you up, you can be sure that you will get the business you deserve from potential clients.

Given that more than 80 per cent of people trust online reviews as much as feedback from friends, the feedback your clients leave is sure to have an impact.

Jim Lamzela is president of



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