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Bidding - 3 steps to winning profitable tenders

Updated: Mar 3


After establishing a business, work often tends to be gained from those you know, referral or recommendation. To grow the business and break into new markets, tendering for work is an option. By its nature, price is a significant element of any tender, even when other considerations are evaluated. Getting the price right and still making a profit is not easy, but if you follow the steps recommended below, you will improve your chances.


Step 1 – Only bid what you can win.


Every tender is different but what you are tendering for will have attributes. Those attributes will be the same as the segment of the market you are established in. Being able to define that segment is important, as it then establishes the types of tenders to bid and those to avoid. Segment the market. Know the location, type of client, value range of the projects, the type of work, duration, any specific accreditations required of the work which you are most suited to. Target any bids that closely match your ideal segment. The closer the match the more likely you are to win.


Step 2 – Estimate the real cost to you, of doing the work.


Estimate the real cost of doing the work and adding your expected overheads to it, ensures that you know what your break-even cost will be. The estimated costs should be detailed and kept as a record. The record can be used later to compare planned and actual costs, from which learnings for future bids can be taken or measures implemented sooner to address losses.

The more accurate the estimate, the less likely you are to lose money or waste your time by putting in an inflated bid which gets rejected and gives you a reputation of being “too expensive”.


Step 3 – Turn the estimate into a tender by knowing the market.


In theory, by now your direct costs should be identical to a competitor who is working in the same segment. You will be adding different overheads, but this difference is balanced by the profit demanded by the owners. A business with a large turnover will have a large overhead, but because of the sheer volume of work, the profit demand expressed as percentage will be small. Even though a small business will have a lower overhead, it will have a larger profit demand as volume of work will be less and more profit is required from the lower turnover to satisfy the owners.


Therefore, what dictates the amount of profit which can be added to an estimate is what the market will bear. It’s a classic case of supply and demand. By keeping records of tenders submitted, won and lost, it is possible to predict what the market will bear and adjust the profit added. The skill in adjusting the profit mark up, from your ideal mark-up is discretionary, but is what ultimately will maximise your profit and minimise the profit left on the table. Of course, you can leave more profit on the table if you have a reason to, but this is not sustainable if repeated often.


If you would like help with:

· Determining your bid-no-bid criteria

· Maximising mark-up without compromising the number of wins

Then please contact me. Peter.Searle@ba4cs.co.uk www.ba4cs.co.uk

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