Government agencies and commercial companies release requests for proposals, invitations to bid and requests for quotes when they need products or services. If you are in the HVAC industry, this means you can increase your business by bidding against fellow HVAC businesses to provide the products or services. In order to begin bidding on contracts successfully, there are a few things you must do to set your business apart from the competition.
Get certified. Government agencies prefer to do business with companies that are certified as a Small Business Enterprise (SBE), Disadvantage Business Enterprise (MBE), SBA 8a or Minority Business Enterprise (MBE). This is the government's way of supporting small businesses and minority-owned companies. Your company may not qualify for any of these certifications, but if it does, getting certified will give you a leg up in the competition.
Contact your local city and county's purchasing offices. You can check their websites for the phone numbers, and sometimes their websites will have their bid requests posted for you to download and print. Look for a heading that says "Purchasing," "Doing Business with (name of city or county)," or "Open Bids." If you cannot find any of these, you can call the purchasing department, which will be able to direct you to the bid documents. Once you find the documents, print out any related to the project you are wishing to bid on. Bookmark the web page where the agency posts the bid so you can find it easily again. If you are bidding on commercial company projects, check their websites for more information or call their corporate offices and ask whether they have any projects open for bidding.
Read over the documents carefully. HVAC projects can include plans in the form of large blueprints that you will have to purchase. If this is the case for the project you are interested in, it will be noted in the bidding documents and give you the contact information for the printing company that you must purchase the plans from. Also pay attention to pre-bid meetings. These meetings can be mandatory or optional, but they are a benefit to you as a potential contractor because you have a visual of what work has to be done.
Check the website where the agency posted the bid. Agencies and companies can add information to their bid requests, so check every day. These documents must be printed out, signed and dated by you and they also contain information that is critical when putting together your proposal or bid. Addenda can change the opening date, which is the date proposals received by the agency will be opened and reviewed, and they can cancel the bid, add new specifications, delete specifications, add or cancel a pre-bid meeting or change the due date.
Write your proposal. You want to start writing your proposal once you have thoroughly read the bid documents. Do not wait until the last minute. Follow the guidelines specified by the requesting agency. Some agencies specify everything, down to what color ink to use when signing your proposal. If you turn your bid in late, you will be disqualified from bidding on the project. It also gives the agency or corporation a bad impression of your company, and the group is less likely to want to do business with you in the future.
Some bids have forms for writing your bid; these can be printed or online. Talking to the local purchasing agencies in your area and making friends with the employees is a good way to get a heads-up of upcoming projects, and they will be more likely to help you along in the bidding process.
If there is a mandatory pre-bid meeting, you must attend or you will be disqualified from bidding on the project. Also, if blueprints are required, you must purchase them. Sometimes these plans cost hundreds of dollars, but without them you do not have all of the information you need to bid on the project.