tender bid submission tips

Competitive tender bid submission tips for architects

Many architects have a love/hate relationship with competitive tendering. On the one hand, you can land an amazing client, and on the other hand, you may end up wasting too much effort to get zero results (and no transparency, either).

Truth is, submitting bids does not have to be too stressful. As developers of one of the top project management platforms for architects, we know a thing or two about organisation – and it’s exactly what matters the most here.

There are ways to tweak your mindset and workflow in order to get a higher success rate with tenders. 

This post will list a couple of tender-winning tips for architects that have worked well for our other clients.

Types of Architectural Tenders

Normally architectural tenders in the UK fall into one of these three vital service sectors: 

Design development

Tenders for design development mean they want you to be responsible for the creation of the design. All the necessary measurements, schematic work, and blueprints will probably be the scope of the project. Your drawings function as a roadmap for a project manager stepping in. 

Design preparation and articulation

These tenders imply that you tie the design concepts to the practical side of the construction process. Cost forecasting, material sourcing and logistics, and construction services selection will all be under the hood in these tenders. Usually, the expected deliverables are all the construction-ready documents that construction managers and contractors can use.

Construction Administration

Some clients may look for comprehensive architectural services that cover the full project development from the design concept to construction contractor bidding and supply procurement.

Based on the type of tender you are competing for, you may need to prepare different documents – and adopt different mindsets.

Competitive tendering as an architect – the strategy

Several principles that will help you win more bids:

Be strategic

Have a clear idea of what type of projects you are going for and why. 

You need to specialize and niche down. The sooner you do that the faster you get to referrals and repeat business.

Make sure the vision you’ve established is reflected in your mission, vision, and values.

Targeted tender submissions that grow your niche expertise are better than spraying submissions around. You get to save your time and energy only for tenders that matter. The best part is each bid you don’t win gets you niche experience that helps you tweak future bids.

Break the ice and network

Establish connections with clients and subcontractors before tender initiation. 

Visit the site and inspect it, attend any meetings held, and try to get your foot in the door by any means. The reason for that is when you spend time with your potential clients you get a much better idea of their challenges – and as a result, you are able to put together proposals that say exactly what they want to read.

Many architecture firms assess and work on tenders only after they have been released. Ideally, you need to be building relationships and gathering intel before that.

We’ve always written about benefits of networking – you should not take that lightly!

Be organised and always ready

This is what separates architectural firms primed for growth from mediocre ones: they are always ready to put together an impressive proposal in very little time. 

The reason for that is that they treat the organisation seriously and all of their promo materials are at hand and updated.

You need to have a strong organisational system and readily available, up-to-date resources at all times. References, contacts, case studies, well-written explanations and promotional snippets, imagery, blueprints, reviews – anything that will impress your potential clients needs to be no more than a few clicks away.

Use PlanMan to host all your documents, portfolio projects, references, co-consultant contacts, and all past correspondence in one dashboard. 

Sign up for a free trial today and see how easy building customized targeted tender applications can get.

Top tender bidding tactics

Competitive tendering is often intimidating – but if you’re aiming at bigger and better projects, especially in the public sector, you will have to adopt some tactics for that.

As we go through them you will see that they are just practical implementations of the major strategies we’ve listed above.

Pick your case studies well

Usually, any tender is accompanied by a Pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) or a Standard Selection Quetionnaire (SQ) – both of which ask for three case studies.

These case studies need to be targeted – and they need to target specifically the goals and requirements described in the tender specification.

Pick cases where you have delivered services either for similar organisations, if you can. If you’ve never worked for a similar organisation, at least pick a project where you had similar objectives.

Get serious about your references

This is especially important in the public sector – because most officials are unwilling to take risks. 

List points of contact that can truly vouch for your expertise and work ethic.

Pick the specification apart and address every point of it

Almost all Invitation To Tender documents contain detailed specification of requirements.

Make sure to thoroughly read through the requirements and incorporate elements from them into your response.

The client and other stakeholders are looking for exact terms and figures that they’ve used in the requirements. Even if something makes little sense to you as a professional, or a buzzword irritates you – use it, and double down on how good you’re at it.

This is one thing that sets apart great tender applications – they are all targeted and custom-written. 

If your response feels like it’s canned, generic, and re-used – your chances of winning will always be low.

Since you’re investing effort into responding to a tender anyway, make sure it’s customised and personalised.

Be specific and substantial

It’s a good idea to reference other contracts and projects you’ve completed in the past.

When you do so, always make sure you are illustrating your points with specific figures and quantifiable results.

Energy savings, budget, hours, timeframes, – anything that’s specific and shows the progress you helped achieve will work well.

Leverage CSR and SVP

Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Value Policies can really be the decisive factor when you are competing for higher-end and public tenders. 

Think ahead and take part in CSR & SVP initiatives so that you can showcase them when competing for tenders.

Educational programs, help to the underprivileged, charity and community support, sustainable work practices – there are dozens of opportunities for you to be more socially responsible.

Rethink your pricing

Pricing is a big topic – and whenever you are competing for tenders it plays a key role. 

The pricing can either be a fixed total quote for the project, a list of rates for different activities, an hourly rate with an estimation of hours necessary to complete the project, or a pledge to work within a certain budget. 

Whichever model you choose, remember to keep it as relevant and fitting to the tender requirements as possible.

Please keep in mind that at one point you move away from competing on pricing. Once your brand has cemented its reputation you have to stop lowballing and make all other advantages sell your services.

No matter what your experience with tenders is, you need to keep competing and staying in the game. 

The hands-on experience with tenders is invaluable – and if you remain strategic and organized you will be winning more and more bids!

Get PlanMan to help you stay organized and always ready to submit a coherent and persuasive bid!