If it isn’t part of your daily work routine, choosing the right contractors to negotiate with can be a stressful process. In Canadian contract law, the concept on contract A means that all the contractors you invite to bid must quote on fair and equal terms. Unfortunately, not all contractors quote on fair and equal terms back. Without properly identifying your scope, budget, and schedule, your lowest bidding contractor may be far from the best one for the job. Here are a few things to consider before bidding out your next project.
Have you identified exactly what your scope of work is?
All installation contractor quotes includes cost for the materials and labour required to complete your project. As such, the quote should detail both the types of material supplied and the scope of work for labour. Keep in mind that different types of services will yield different levels of detail. For example, a bill of materials may not be as helpful on a structured cabling job (where it’s helpful to know the quantity of cables to be installed) than an audio-visual project with several types of expensive components such as televisions, HDMI cables, and keyboard-video-mouse devices. Keep these metrics as concise as possible to make comparing quotes faster and easier.
Another important detail is the amount of time the contractor has spent determining your requirements. Regardless of the contractor’s size or experience, if they have placed an offer without fully understanding your projects needs, they have gambled on intuition. These types of offers come surprisingly quickly, and is loaded with assumptions and vague scope of work statements. The fallacy here is that if a contractor is competent enough, they shouldn’t have to spend much time assembling a quote. Unfortunately, there are so many variables involved in with projects like structured cabling that assumptions like these could result in an added cost, cut corners, missed deadline, or a discount that you should know about. If a contractor is rushing your quotes, they may have missed some important details which disqualifies them from bidding your project.
Does the price look really, really good? If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. Find out what your project cost should be based on metrics such as cost per cat5e cable, cost per outdoor security camera, etc. This will give you a ball-park figure on a price you should be looking for. If the contractor is missing something, or worse, is absolutely hurting for work, they will be on the low end of this spectrum. Every contractor needs to make money to stay in business, so if their price doesn’t look good for them, the finished result won’t look good for you.
Always remember to set prices for Moves, Adds, and Changes (MACs). Some examples of pricing on MACs are: “add $250 to project price to supply and install additional network device” or “supply and install trunk line cable at $10 per foot”. These prices constitute as variable costs to your project, so since they don’t include much of the projects added fixed costs, the MAC prices should be lower than your projects unit costs. For example, the per cable cost on a structured cabling project could be $300 than the MAC price of $200, where the $100 difference includes set-up time and most of the communication room hardware. Should the pricing work out in your favour, it would be helpful to issue the MAC pricing on a separate contract to allow you the freedom work with a separate contractor without being in violation of contract A terms. Being aware of this, your primary contractor will have to give you the best pricing possible for MACs if they’d like to have that avenue open to them.
Above all else, you need to make sure your contractor’s have the manpower and financial capacity to be able to carry out the installation scope, on time, and on budget. Start by clearly identifying the working hours, scheduled start and finish dates, and any specific financial expectations you may have (eg, deposit or holdback requirements) up front to limit confusion later on. Then, find out which contractors have the capacity to undertake a project based on that scale. If price is major factor in your selection, match the size of the contractor with the size of the project. In negotiations, one of the things larger contractors will say to justify their higher prices is the amount of capacity they have. In reality, your project has its own unique needs, so fit the hand to the glove.
Selecting the right contractor for the job is not easy, but it is certainly easier than dealing with the wrong one. By supplementing your procurement process with the points made in this article, you will qualify only contractors like Bluewire Media Solutions to work on your project. Please visit our portfolio section to see examples of a high quality installation, or contact us for references or testimonials.
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