Raymond shares the lessons he learned as a General Contractor but more specifically when he was on the other side of the table working for project owners and interviewing multiple contractors. The advice is simple but rarely followed - know what matters to the project owner and focus on providing actionable information.
Want to be David and beat Goliath? Want to be Goliath and keep your position? This is where you truly leverage your preconstruction services to punch above your weight.
- Know the project constructability details, risks and unknowns as if you were going to start building it next week.
- Bring solutions to the risks - if there is a known supply chain capacity problem then bring up that supplier or sub that you found and already proactively locked in contingent upon you winning the project.
- Know the project owner, architect and anyone else heavily involved in the process. Learn what you can about what is important to them. Make assumptions about what would matter to you if you were in their shoes.
- For example; if they are a casino then you know that opening is the most important thing.
- Do you have the ability to help them with regulatory or financing issues they may have?
- Build a conceptual estimate including a schedule in detail with assumptions made for the unknowns based on your experience.
- Identify value-engineering possibilities.
- Demonstrate how you will effectively manage communications throughout the design and construction process by showing them.
- Present your plan including the assumptions, risks and what you've already done to address the issues.
- Begin working through the assumptions, risks and value engineering possibilities as if it were your first meeting after you've been awarded the project.
- Explain your communication and management processes as you are working through their project.
- Practice and rehearse your interview with the whole project team several times over several days before the interview.
- Train part of your team to act like the customer and architect bringing up hard questions.
- Do the math - winning a $25M project is probably worth $1.5M in overhead and profit plus about that same amount in general conditions. Every 0.5% additional you get is worth $125K. If you practice with a team of 6 people for 8 hours and only win one out of four interviews that is worth $650 per hour for each person on the team; likely a better return than you typically get.
- Don't hesitate to bring in a coach to facilitate training and practice sessions.
- Use video as a good way to see yourself.
Unlikely Risk / Unrealistic Fear: They could take all the information you have worked so hard to put together and give this to the other teams.
- You would at least know their values and that they were a bad customer. Better to learn now than when they owe you millions of dollars in payments with another million in outstanding changes.
- Smart owners know that this is just the tip of the iceberg and will want the collective creativity of your team involved throughout the projects.
- Smart owners know that it is very unlikely that the other teams would be able to implement the ideas effectively even if they were fed to them.
Alternative: You could just show up with a stock slide show of all the similar projects you have built and your company's long history in the community. Make sure it is generic with no specific value-add to the customer. :)