Bidding for storm door and window projects is hard. Some customers bid on price instead of quality and value. Others may worry about less important things, like color, and competitors could use cheap, low-quality products to win bids.
You can’t expect to win every bid. General contractors usually hope to win one of six bids, but these rates can be different depending on where you work. You shouldn’t stress about every bid. Since many of the projects you lose have low profit margins, they are not worth the effort anyway.
Focus on improving your bidding process to put the odds more in your favor.
The goal in doing this is to lower the number of bids needed for each high-value contract won. For example, if you win one of every 10 bids, you can make a goal to win one of every six or seven.
How is this possible?
A step-by-step approach can make you more appealing to customers who appreciate value.
You can start by researching other companies in the industry. With this info, you can try to stand out. You can offer customers more choices, focus on value instead of price, and consider special features customers may want.
Here is a closer look at how to create better bids for storm windows and doors.
Why the Bidding Process Matters
The bidding process may seem like an unwanted challenge. You have to deal with competitors offering lower prices and cheaper products. Then, you have to convince clients who may be choosing a bid based on unrelated factors like the salesperson’s personality.
At the same time, the bidding steps protect you from jobs that aren’t worth your time. At the end of the day, you don’t want to work with clients only interested in the cheapest prices. They don’t bring profits.
The bidding process can also help homeowners get the best value. They may want their storm windows or storm doors to have specific features and meet their standards. Through the bidding process, they can weed out those installers who don’t offer quality.
Before Your Bid: Competitor Research
One of the important concepts for all businesses is the unique value proposition (UVP). A UVP is something that sets you apart from your competitors.
Competitor research can help you find what the other installers in your area offer. You can use this information to make bids offering things they don’t provide.
You can look through websites, social media accounts, or other ads to find insights about your competition. This information is available online, so you can see it without having to pose as a customer or use other unethical tricks.
You might look for the following during your research:
- Prices for installation
- Brands and products available
- Warranty length
- Their UVPs
- Years of experience
You can also look at your competitors’ ratings on third-party review sites. Customers may look at these as well. If you notice reviews for poor customer service or bad communication, you can highlight these qualities in your bid.
You can attempt to answer competitors’ unique selling points with ones of your own or choose certain areas where you can be better than your competitors. These could include offering longer or better warranties, lower prices, or superior products.
4 Tips for Better Bids
Once you know your competitors, you can begin crafting your bid. These four tips can prove beneficial for improving your win-bid ratio:
Offer Options for the Different Types of Storm Windows and Doors
One of the most important concepts of learning how to bid on storm window and door installation is that you are not limited to a single product. You can provide different choices.
This step does two things. First, it eliminates the problem of customers going with a different installer because you do not have the color, design, or materials they want. Second, it allows you to compete better on price. You might offer budget options for people seeking to limit their costs and higher-end products for those more worried about lifespan and design.
It is possible to go overboard on choice. A study by psychologists showed that consumers can get overwhelmed with too many options. We recommend giving folks three (or, at the most, four) choices.
For a new storm door or window, you can organize products by style, price, or features. For example, you could offer different styles or colors on interior storm windows and then have a different category for exterior windows.
You should also cut products that don’t fit the project or location.
Focus on Value, Not Cost
Any strategy that requires you to beat your competitors on price isn’t sustainable. Tight margins can limit profits and leave no room for error. A small delay or extra hardware or labor could cause you to lose money on the job.
Also, installers new to the area could seek to gain contacts and positive reviews by offering lower prices or matching prices. Some well-funded installers may even be willing to operate at a loss while they get established in the area and build a reputation. They will beat you on price every time.
A strategy focusing on value allows you to highlight other benefits besides cost. Value is effective during bidding because it shifts the decision away from price and allows you to bid based on your strengths and UVPs.
In the contracting and installation industry, “value” can mean perceived value or real value.
Real value counts the actual costs of materials and labor. It can also include the equity the improvement adds to the home. Perceived value is what the customer thinks the product and service are worth based on the benefits they provide.
In storm window and door installation, perceived value is usually more important. A survey by OnePoll found that most people make buying decisions based on warranty length, quality, or reputation. The report also found that 63% of consumers admitted to being burned by opting for cheaper products.
The point is that most consumers look beyond price when buying anything. Focusing on value is worth it.
You can increase the perceived value by telling customers about your qualities and benefits. Also, it doesn’t hurt to point out that competitors do not offer the same advantages.
Consider Special Requirements and Add-Ons
One of the best ways to increase perceived value is to meet the special requirements of customers or offer add-ons that they may find useful.
Energy efficiency is more than a trend for windows and doors. New windows or doors can reduce heating and cooling costs by 25% to 30%. Most owners are aware of this and may request ENERGY STAR-certified low-E storm windows.
You can include these products in your bid and offer insights about their efficiency ratings. This step could convince some homeowners to buy.
Some areas of the country have strong storms or high winds. Impact-resistant storm doors and shatterproof exterior storm windows can be necessary. Customers are often willing to pay more for quality protection.
You might also consider offering other things. For instance, movable panels placed outside the window frame can offer extra storm protection. A supplier can help you find the products needed for a customer’s location.
You can offer simpler add-ons for a fee or as a free value-adding service. Weatherproofing is a good example of this type of add-on. You can make a tight seal around the window or door frame, add a silicon or vinyl gasket to ensure a secure fit, or use foam or tension-seal weatherstripping.
These simple additions can help save energy and give you a reputation for attention to detail and quality.
Be Prepared to Negotiate
Some homeowners will contact installers they like and ask them to lower their prices. This step means that the homeowner finds value in your bid, but at the same time, they are not willing to pay full price. In most cases, they think your price is too high based on their perceived value. Or, it fits with their perceived value, but they want to get a good deal by paying less than they think they should.
Often, you can negotiate in these situations. You may want to leave some space in your bid pricing to allow for negotiation.
Customers will often use other bids during negotiations. You can offer a more competitive price, but you can also remind them of the benefits you provide that your competitors do not.
You should protect your profit margins by entering the negotiations only after deciding the lowest price you can accept. In some cases, the homeowner will realize you are not going any lower and will accept your price.
If you cannot reach an agreement, you can make a final attempt by offering to use different materials or products. For example, vinyl products may be cheaper than wood, allowing you to cut costs without impacting your profits.
You may also offer to let the customer buy the materials themselves. This option will lower the bid and could convince some customers, but it might bring problems. Their choice of cheaper materials could change your warranties. You need to update the guarantees to account for any low-quality items the customer buys.
Tips for Current Bids
- Be mindful of hardware costs. Doors can need extra hardware. A knob, handle, lock, or door jamb can add to the price of the project. Be sure to add these components to the bid or offer them as extras.
- Measure well. You will want to be sure the chosen products fit in the existing window opening or door frame. Changes to the window or door opening can add to the cost of the project for materials and labor.
- Be aware of conditions. Some states have efficiency requirements based on ICC climate codes. Even without these codes, you should only offer products rated for local conditions.
- Create a clear timeline. Customers often like to see a timeframe for the project. Outline each step and look at the door or window to be sure you can meet the deadlines. If you are replacing a screen door with a storm door, for instance, you will want to be sure the screw holes land on the frame and that you have time to fill any extra screw holes.
- List your qualities. You may have never paused to consider the benefits or unique selling points you provide. You can make a list of the things you do well as an installer. This list can help you find differences between your operation and your competitors.
About the Author
Jeremy is the Vice President of Content & Training of Service Fusion, an all-in-one field service management software. He has over 42 years of experience in the HVAC and electrical industries, and regularly speaks at industry events nationwide.