Updated: Aug 3
Engineering firms don’t have the time nor the capabilities to cater to all bids. Most firms have identified the government agencies they would like to bid for and focus on. However, we were wondering how can engineering firms expand their niche and win new bids?
To answer this, we had a discussion with James Wagner, Engineer at the City of Wichita Kansas for almost 17 years & Scott Wanagat, Project Engineer/Macomb County Department of Roads.
Some bids are harder to win.
First, know that you can’t win every bid. For instance, some clients may give preference to the engineering firms who have a local presence where the work carried out may require a faster or emergency response. If you aren’t local, it may be a disadvantage that weighs heavily on selection. Figure out what you are best at and focus on the bids that require your expertise.
How to increase your chances of winning when it’s your first-time bidding?
If it’s your first time submitting a proposal to an agency, things can be harder. It’s always a good idea to let them know about you. This can be done by a simple introduction in person, over the phone for 10-15 minutes or by attending networking events.
Another advice we learned from other sources in the industry is for firms to start as subcontractors for the engineering firms that the agency already works with. During this time show good work ethics and build a relationship with your new agency. That’s probably similar to starting as an intern and then proving yourself to earn a full-time position.
How should you differentiate yourself?
As it's well known, proposals are evaluated based on a scoring system consisting of various factors such as qualification, experience and personnel. However, when your scores match other firms’ scores, trust may weigh in, and the client may opt for the firm who is a known partner.
Finding a good competitive advantage is key. James & Scott both mention that technology and innovation can help you stand out among the competition. Scott mentions that technology can be an influential factor as it can potentially enable you to offer greater services at reduced costs. He advises engineering firms not to be afraid to come up with new ideas and technologies as agencies are often open to that.
One example James gave was an engineering firm selected to do bridge inspections introduced drones equipped with thermal imagery to provide a new and innovative inspection tool for bridge decks. In addition to that, an in-house developed program for data collection and reporting made their deliverable score well during the selection process. He also added that they count on engineering firms to be up on the latest technological advancements.
Finally, winning more bids does not mean submitting more proposals, it’s about knowing what bids suit you best and focusing on them, thinking outside of the box especially when you are a first time bidder and always advancing your methods and technologies.
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