Winning a tender is obviously rewarding, but the real prize is finding a partnership that will become a regular source of work. A great client may deliver three, four or five tenders a year, representing work worth half a million or much more for a medium sized builder.
Every architect has an inner circle, a handful of builders that they know well and trust and work with on a regular basis. However, every time they put a tender out they may include a builder they haven’t worked with before, just to give them a try. If you can get that opportunity, you can prove yourself as a professional builder. Over the next year or two, you could easily penetrate that inner circle.
That’s the end goal. To get there, you need to choose carefully who you’re going to pursue. There are hundreds of companies out there, so be strategic, and narrow it down to those that specialise in the kind of work you want to do.
From there, it’s about chemistry. Two out of three approaches won’t go anywhere, but when you click, you’ll know it. It’s that personal connection, when you phone up about one thing and end up having a longer conversation than you expected. It’s the clients that feel like personal friends that are often the most profitable.
Architects need you as much as you need them. If you can make their life easier, that’ll get their attention.
When you call, tell them that you know their work and that you think you could work well together. Then try and add a service or extra that others might not have, but that they’d find very helpful.
For example, architects don’t always know the full cost of what they’re designing. Offer help with early budgets. Invite them to send over the drawings to run past your estimators. Help on lead times is another useful service, if you’ve got experience or connections in, say, ordering steel or special bricks.