When it comes to tender writing, first impressions count as much as the devilish details.

Keep this Small Builders guide to winning tenders on hand next time your business wants to win.


How to meet expectations when tendering

This purchase is probably biggest single transaction of your client’s life and it’s important to always keep this in mind. To an established builder, a few thousand dollars paid for a small variation isn’t an unusual. For the consumer however, it is a big deal paying their hard earned, and saved, dollars to you.

To help get into the client’s state of mind think about a different purchasing scenario, like booking a holiday. If you purchase a flight from Qantas what are your expectations? Probably nothing less than a professional, well-polished electronic ticket or brochure with your itinerary emailed to you right? It’s an expectation that is the same for a $60.00 ticket or a $6000 holiday package. Qantas set this benchmark of expectation for good reasons. For all the positive reasons you associate with their brand.

Now think about your client – the one paying significantly more to you than what you’ll be spending next holiday.  What are their expectations? And what benchmark of expectation are you setting?

Your tender document might be the first piece of information a client receives about your company. What is the first impression you are giving? Are you conveying why you are qualified for the job? How you are experienced in this type of work? Why they should trust you with this huge investment?

Always keep in mind that tendering is a valuable opportunity to communicate your experience, professionalism and overall understanding of the client’s needs. And you only have one shot so when reading your tender, a client should be able to easily identify:

  • Who you are and what your company is about including your contact details.
  • An outline of your services in reference to the project and the trade work you are providing e.g. plumbing work or building services.
  • A sequence of work communicating your plan of action to complete the job.
  • The construction period required to complete the works.

Your final pricing and cost breakdown with, where possible, trade pricing coverage from external sources, such as subcontractors and suppliers.

  • A summary of your inclusions and exclusions.
  • Any terms and conditions.

Also vital is to:

Get started straight away. Don’t wait around as you have a finite amount of time to tender the job. There may be critical items that will take lengthy periods to price, rate or gain external pricing on.

Review the tender documents issued by your future client fully and if you have questions, ask. These are the guidelines that you need understand and price too.

Identify any areas critically different to what you would regard as normal for a project of this type. This is something that will protect you in the long run.

Keep up to date with market trends and pricing rates to ensure you won’t get caught out when tendering. Ensure your rates within your quoting program are constantly audited.

Calculate your own take-offs to verify your subcontractors pricing. Ask for a bill of quantities (BOQ) from your client if possible. And read this article on charge out rates, it might help.  7 Charge Out Rate Actions for Home Building Contracts

Attach any required submission documents, like your Certificate of Currency, for example.


The two primary reasons for disputes on sites are the price and scope of works not being properly communicated. Your tender document is your opportunity to demonstrate to your client that you get them, you understand their needs. Equally important is that your client understands you.

Your demonstration of excellent paperwork right from the beginning is a sure fire way to winning over a potential client and achieving success in tendering.