About a year ago, I published an article where I shared the math behind how to ensure you get a minimum of three qualified bids. In that article we discussed how many bidders you need to start with and how to whittle that number down to three.
I realize that achieving the numbers I discussed can be challenging, but I assure you that it is not impossible.
There are many resources and tactics you can use to develop a bidders list. In this article, I share the top resources I use to ensure each of bid ends with at least three qualified bidders.
Ask your Architect
A great resource for identifying well-qualified contractors are local Architects.
Architects won’t know every contractor, so you should not rely on them exclusively, but Architects will know at least a few reputable contractors. Architects are also generally very open to freely sharing the names of a few contractors and they are a great place to start.
Ask a Contractor
One good trade refers another, so if you need a good plumber and you already know a good electrician, don’t be afraid to ask for a referral.
Local contractors tend to know other local contractors, so if you have a relationship with one trade and you need another, go ahead and ask.
I have even gone so far as to ask a Construction Manager who did not have the qualifications I was looking for to refer me to another that did. You might be surprised at how open people are when you simply ask.
I often search for associations for the specific trade I’m looking for.
For example if I needed a millworker in Alaska, I would search for “Millworkers association of Alaska” which results in a group called the “Moulding & Millwork Producers Association“. Under their resources tab you will find that they will sell you a list of their members for $18.00, but I’m willing to bet that if you called and asked for a referral they would give you a few names for free.
This tactic has worked many times and most of the time, the lists are free.
When the service provider you seek requires a license (such as Architects), the best resource is state licensing boards. This also works in jurisdictions where Contractors are required to be licensed.
These boards list their registered members for free. It’s a great resource because you know right from the start that the vendors are all certified to perform the services.
The Blue Book of Construction
The Blue book of construction has been around a long time. Originally this was a book that was very much like the Yellow Pages except that it was exclusively for construction and it’s pages were blue.
Today the Blue Book of Construction is a robust web-based directory with hundreds of thousands of listings all over the United States.
One of the most useful and prolific tools I have ever used to build supplier lists is D&B Hoovers.
D&B Hoovers is a global directory of just about every company in the World. I have used their service to build lists in every country and I have always been able to find at least a few viable firms.
It takes a little work to find the right search criteria and the service is not free, but the amount of insight they have on every company is impressive.
Along the same lines as D&B Hoovers, is a smaller business directory called Manta. I like to use Manta when I am searching for smaller businesses.
Manta is a US based directory, so I don’t use it to find suppliers in other countries, but it does work well in all 50 US states.
Finding the right supplier can be a difficult task. It’s even more complex if you are looking for a supplier in a geography that is new to you, but there are many services and tactics you can use to find the right supplier.
What about you? Where do you go to source suppliers? Do you use any of the one’s I mentioned? Tell me your stories.
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