A guide to seamless tendering

Andy Spruce, estimating manager
Andy Spruce, estimating manager

In the second in a series of articles, we look behind the scenes of Bracknell Roofing and ask key members of staff about their areas of specialism, and what makes their business stand out. Andy Spruce, estimating manager at the company, offers an insight into the work of the estimating team.

As one of the UK’s leading roof slating and tiling contractors, Bracknell Roofing gets invited to tender for up to 40 new projects every week, with a typical turnaround time of 10 days – in which time we have to fully understand the project and specifications, clarify queries, liaise with material suppliers and produce accurate costings. As you can imagine, even with a team of seven people – who between them have more than 140 years’ experience – there is a considerable amount of work involved in processing new tenders and following through existing ones to completion.

If we can offer any advice to help housebuilders and contractors to ensure that their tender requests go seamlessly through our estimating system, then the three tips below will hopefully prove invaluable.

We only need the roofing information

We’re often sent all the information about the complete build on a site – so, as you can imagine, there’s a lot of information to sift through until we get to the information we need. We can understand why we get sent chapter and verse because it provides a wider context, but the reality is that it’s not necessary and it slows down our processes.

Also, having to wade through so much information could lead us to miss something vital to the estimate. Poorly labelled electronic drawings (PDF, DWG and DWF) are another issue that slows down the estimating process.

The better the specification, the better the estimate

 We appreciate that some of the specifications we receive are at various stages of development and may not be the final versions. We know that this can be for a number of reasons, but one of the most common is housebuilders or contractors requiring an estimate to form part of their tender bid for a project.

Another reason for a change in specification is often based on our recommendations because we use all our experience to make suggestions where appropriate, based on factors including cost, the performance of materials, the availability of materials and feasibility.

All this means that re-quoting is a fact of life, but the rule of thumb still stands that the better the specification, the better the estimate.

Information sharing

We have come a long way since those days of daily delivered heavy parcels full of printed A1 drawings – thankfully! The Internet provides us with rapid information available to download, work on and file at the touch of our fingertips. At Bracknell Roofing, our estimating team relies on an extranet for many of our customers through numerous secure, user-friendly cloud storage sites, web portals and platforms. However, some companies use portals that are difficult to navigate, especially those that you have to visit yourself and bypass all the other trades’ information just to get to the detail you require. The internet that was once your friend now overloads you with too much information, and the old proverb ‘less is more’ counts here for sure.

One final thing: we’re local, so keep talking to us

The management of our estimating team is centralised, but we have estimators in branches spread across England – and we think this is vitally important to support housebuilders and contractors, because having people on the doorstep goes a long way in building strong, productive relationships. Enabling our customers to pick up the phone if needed and speak to us – or even visit for a meeting – really does help the flow of communication and cuts down on errors on both sides that could hold up the submission of an estimate.