We are not the low bidder

By: Rondon Group  09-12-2011

We compete against low bidders often. An example of what happened one of many times: The job ran into problems and the low bid contractor told the customer he didn’t have time for problems, and besides, how could they expect good service when his price had been so low. We took care of that family, and we charged them a fair price. If you find our price is higher than the low bidder’s, make sure they’re offering you the same material we discussed. Make sure they’re not cutting corners by eliminating items or substituting cheap material. Remember, a car may be a car, but a BMW is very different from a Yugo. Be a wise consumer, and keep in mind, if we’re all getting our material from a legitimate source, we’re all paying the same price. If there’s a wild difference in our price, that difference has to be coming from someplace else.

Maybe the low bidder has simply decided to work for less profit. Maybe he figures he can make it up on volume. We see that business philosophy in a lot of places nowadays.

But the low bidder has to pay the same price for a truck as we do. And gas is no cheaper at his gas station than it is at ours. Quality tools cost money and so does liability insurance, workman’s compensation, the cost of clean uniforms, drop cloths and safety equipment. These bills must be paid.

Many low bidders have no idea what their operating costs are. They’ve never taken a business course, and they live from job to job. As a result, many of them go out of business. If you have a problem a year or so after the installation, there’s a good chance the low bidder will be gone, or operating under another name. Either way, you’re stuck with the problem.

The difference between our price and the low bidder’s has to be coming from someplace. Chances are it’s coming from his mechanic’s salary. Low bidders usually pay their mechanics less than we do. They have to. After all, they’re the low bidders.

Low bidders generally have a tough time attracting skilled craftsmen

Low bidders generally have a tough time attracting skilled craftsmen. Skilled craftsmen earn good wages because they work neatly and quickly and they know exactly what they’re doing. We’d send nothing less than a skilled craftsman to work in your home. Would you expect anything less?

Low bidders typically hire people with limited experience. These novice workers are willing to work for low wages because they have little or no training. They need on-the-job experience. Unfortunately, they want to get it on your job.

Low bidders don’t allow any margin for error. If there’s a problem, low bidders return to your home reluctantly and usually because you threatened them. More often than not, you wind up with a patch job, performed by an angry, surly man who resents you, even though you hired him and paid him promptly.

Low bidders usually don’t have any sort of support staff. If you call with a question, you get to speak to an answering machine, at worst, or an answering service, at best. Rarely will you get someone who can answer your technical or billing questions competently and on the spot.

Since the low bidder doesn’t know his real cost of doing business, he won’t set aside money to replace or repair that old truck or those old tools. The result? You’re home waiting for him to show up, but he’s broken down on the road with no way of getting in touch with you. He has no cell phone. He has no two-way radio. He has no support staff. He’s the low bidder. He can’t afford these things.

The low bidder sets no money aside for the future. He lives from job to job. He often falls behind on his payments to suppliers. They cut him off and he’s forced to make excuses to you. You can’t have your meter, panel, hot tub, or whatever because “the manufacturer didn’t ship on time,” or “the truck broke down,” or “there’s a strike at the factory.” You’ll just have to wait…or you’ll have to pay him the full price in advance, and in cash. And don’t be surprised if he uses your money to finish his last job, rather than start your job.

The low bidder rarely takes the time to read or do research or attend educational seminars. He’s too busy running around trying to make a profit by losing money on each job. He’s not really interested in the latest products and technological advances. He has no time to learn new things. He thinks “plain vanilla” or “what we’ve been doing for years” is good enough for you. He won’t take the time to show you a menu of products, nor will he consider how he can provide you with comfort in the most economical way. He’ll just ask what you want, and then give you a low-ball price.

The low bidder may not have a good relationship with the local code officials. Years of cutting corners under various company names have probably made the inspectors wary of this guy. They’ll go over his jobs with a fine-tooth comb and often insist he redo things. He’ll resent this, and he may ask you for more money after he’s started the job. He might even put you in the middle of the argument with the inspector, and perhaps even with the local utility.

And while all this is going on, your electrical system may be laying dormant. After all, if the low bidder can’t afford to do the job right, he certainly can’t afford to do the job twice.

We’re probably not the low bidders on this job, but I assure you we have given you our best price for the value we offer. And when you need us in the years to come, we’ll be there to serve.

Thanks for your consideration.

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Things most renovation companies won't tell you

One way to avoid these problems is to go to a home inspector or, if you’ve been working with an interior designer, give each bidder a copy of the renovation plan, outlining precisely the materials to be used and the amount of labour involved. You should get references from three renovators before deciding which to hire, but once you have those references in hand, get on the phone and grill each of them.