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To Bid or Not to Bid

The electrical contractor must consider some important factors before deciding which project to bid.  The contractor should only bid work that has the potential to make a profit.  The belief that “WE NEED WORK” may cause you to win a project that you will live to regret.   All contractors need work, but only work that is right for your company.

When you do decide to bid a project, make sure that the decision was made on principles that fit your company’s abilities.

Here are some questions for your consideration:

CONSIDER – Your Own Comfort Level

  1. Is the project similar to ones you have done?
  2. Do you understand the scope of work?
  3. How far is the project from your office?
  4. What is your current work load? And what would this additional project do to your office and field staff?
  5. Does the project require special tools and do you have them?
  6. Is there a possibility for a reasonable profit?
  7. What is the schedule and phasing?
  8. Do you have a quality project manager to assign to the project?
  9. Do you an experienced foreman that can handle the project?
  10. What is your past record with a similar project?
  11. If it is out of your area, are there electrical suppliers that you can work with?

CONSIDER – Who is the Architect and Electrical Engineer

  1. What is the architect’s reputation?
  2. What is the electrical engineer’s reputation?
  3. Are the drawings complete?
  4. Are the specifications complete?
  5. Are the drawings well defined: match lines, column lines, consistent notes?
  6. Is the project still in the design phase?
  7. Is it a budget price?

CONSIDER – Who is the General Contractor

  1. Do you know the General Contractor?
  2. Do they have a good or bad reputation?
  3. What is their payment record?
  4. What are the payment terms?
  5. Do they coordinate well with sub-contractors?
  6. Are you being used for a “check price?”
  7. Is the project a rebid?

CONSIDER – The Market

  1. How many electrical contractors are bidding the project?
  2. Are the usual “low baller contractors” bidding the project?
  3. Are there better projects to bid just ahead?

You don’t have to bid every project.  Qualifying the project is the best way to bid.

So, consider the following before deciding to bid:

  1.  Your own comfort level
  2. The Architect and Electrical Engineer
  3. The General Contractor
  4. The Market

Decisions about which projects to bid should be based on what is right for your company.  Some decisions maybe between good, better, or best.  Never settle for good, when you can have the best.


Remember, estimating is expensive, poor estimating is costly, and quality estimating is profitable.