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We are the third bidder10/27/15
We were recently approached by a designer to provide pricing for millwork on a large residential project. We have done work for the designer when she was with another company several years ago.
The builder has a quote from one company. The designer already has a quote from a millwork company they have worked with on past projects. The homeowner wants s third bid.
The designer doesn't seem inclined to spend a lot of time providing full information and support for my bid. Both the designer and builder could be good sources of work in the future. Any tricks to help determine whether we are wasting our time bidding?
If it looks like a time waster, we may be able to say we are too busy to take on new work at this time.
That 3rd position is no fun, but it happens. Handle it well, and you may be able to move up in the line up in the future.
First, let them know that the more you know, the tighter you can price. If you can (you have info and confidence), tell them you will specify where they do not, and that specified pricing is their best price and it is fixed pricing, helping them control costs.
Also, if you can take an element and price it tightly while also adding something to it they had not thought of - better grain patterns, cleaner look, etc. That may help ingratiate your firm to them.
Also, a finished corner sample or some grain variations on a finished panel - small enough to pass around in a meeting - with your company name conveniently placed on the back will help your cause. try to get a meeting with more than just a designer - you want the buyers there also if possible.
I have handed out small coped mortise and tenon joints that can be taken apart and put together, and everyone loves them - they hate to have to give them back. But they remember.
Ask if you can get scope and alternates the other bidders provided so you can make sure everyone is apples to apples, then provide adds / deduct for your standard methods. I would bid it just to know where I stood in the marketplace against x and y unless you already know
Option 1 is to bid low with ambiguous language for your scope. If your bid gets through, it will get the homeowner's attention and force the designer to provide you the details you need in order to re-submit your bid with the correct scope. (Chances are the designer will just throw out your bid and look for another shop that gives them a higher bid so that they get to work with their preferred shop)
Option 2 is to tell the designer you're too busy right now. I guarantee if you're not the designer's first choice on this job, you won't be on the next one either. Better just to walk away.
Sounds like she may know something that she could be embarrassed to discuss or knows the builder has the cards. A candid conversation with some relief for her is in order
The designer doesn't want to waste her time, but she has no problem wasting yours. The only reason you are being asked is because the homeowner wants another bid. If you believe in 'hail mary passes' then bid it, but I would want some money to spend time on this.
Thanks for the advice! I told the designer I'd be happy to bid but that I'd need to meet with her on site to review the drawings and ask questions. I also asked to meet with the owners or other decision-makers. Next day, the designer e-mailed to say the client had already chosen the millworker and she hoped I hadn't wasted too much time on it. Classic!!!