I went to a pre-bid conference today for a county design-build project. It was lightly attended by mostly the subconsultants who were looking to sign on with a prime contractor. It’s always interesting to observe how different companies approach the pre-bid conference. You see the various consultants that are actively trying to sign up with a contractor and the contractors trying to avoid making any commitments to team – for now.
When I attend pre-bid conferences, I usually try to do four things: be visable; listen to all of the information; ask questions; and pay attention to the pre-bid attendee list. Below is a little more information about each tip.
- Be Visable. Usually when I attend a pre-bid conference, I always try to sit towards the front. Even though the government procurement process is supposed to be non-biased, you still want to make sure you’re memorable. By sitting in the front, my company and my RFP response may be a little more recognizable by the selection committee. It’s a competitive market, so I’ll take any advantage I can get!
- Listen to all of the information (even the boring stuff). Pre-bid meetings typically begin with a procurement manager reading key portions of the RFP and/or pointing out which aspects will be clarified with an addendum later. This part of the meeting is pretty tedious (but necessary) and it’s usually challenging to maintain one’s attention as the procurement specialist goes through the procurement process for the agency. Being read to from the RFP can take anywhere between 15 – 20 minutes. However, I’ve been in meetings where this portion of the meeting can take an hour. It’s a good idea to pay attention during this part of the meeting because you’ll be surprised by how many important details the procurement officer points out that you may have glazed over when first reading the RFP.
- Ask questions and listen to the questions asked. Following the read through of the general procurement procedures and the proposed schedule, a project manager usually goes over the scope of work. Here’s where it gets a little more exciting as more information about the project is disclosed. Questions start popping up from the attendees and you learn the key concerns for the agency. This information is critical for your RFP response. Pay attention! Make sure you incorporate these aspects into the narrative of your proposal – especially in the cover letter.
- Pay attention to the pre-bid attendee list. Following the pre-bid meeting, you can usually get a copy of the attendees from Demandstar or the agency’s procurement site. The pre-bid list is extremely useful because you can get a feel for who your competition is for the contract.
So now you know how to make the most out of a pre-bid conference. The next time you pursue a contract, make sure you attend the pre-bid meeting no matter how busy you may be. If you can’t attend, make sure you send someone who can represent your firm.
If you have any questions about pre-bid meetings, please don’t hesitate to contact us!