Building a reputation that wins more projects

building a reputation that wins more projects
Gerry Henley, VP of Franchise for Color World Housepainting, shares how networking and building relationships in the industry helps to grow a construction business.

How sales techniques can help get you on a bid list

There may not be a magic wand for suddenly growing a small contracting business into a larger organization, but there are certainly best practices for building industry relationships and winning more work. Using an intentional sales methodology will keep you from throwing bids at every project you find and increase your bid-hit ratio.

Early in my career, I worked in the commercial cabinetry industry, and after several years I saw an opportunity to be a sales representative in Wisconsin. It was a big move, and starting to build my relationships from zero was a challenge. But, early on, I recognized that I needed to focus on two priorities: Establish relationships and get on bid lists.

My process included searching all open bids that were applicable to cabinetry, making a list of all the general contractors who were bidding that project, and then calling my way through that list. I contacted each project manager and asked to get on their bid list, and then followed up with more information about our company, quality, and experience.

After a year of speaking directly with project managers, I began building relationships with architects and including my products in their specifications. I built trust with both contractors and designers so they could see that our company provided great service and great quality for the price point.

After two years, 20-30 general contractors in my area began calling me when they had a new project, and looked for my name on bid lists. Now at Color World, we teach our franchise owners these same principles.

Build a prospecting list

Whether you are in a new city, or you are already established in your region, do the research and make a list of potential contractors and clients. Watch their projects and schedules carefully, and make sure you know what is coming up in the next year. Depending on your industry, make sure to include groups like property management firms, condo associations, and maintenance contractors.

Identify the gatekeeper

Each company will be slightly different when finding your point of contact. Some contractors may have administrators who process bid list requests, and others you may be able to speak directly with a project manager or estimator. This is a situation where a phone call may be more successful than an email or text.

Create an accurate estimate

One of the fastest ways to earn the trust of a general contractor is to submit a bid that has all the necessary details and spot-on pricing. Color World uses a combination of our own proprietary pricing data and the 1build system. The material prices between our own data and 1build’s is often negligible (especially when it comes to the regular maintenance painting) so having 1build partner with us as an expert estimator has given us another amazing tool.

When I started my career, I worked on building a bid list, but as I grew in the industry and also in my sales experience, I worked to build a reputation. Put in the work to make phone calls and provide excellent service. General contractors are looking for subs and partners who can help them build their own reputation with clients, so working together and keeping the relationship will always be the right direction.


Since 1997, Color World Housepainting has been providing home and business owners with quality interior and exterior painting services and so much more. They are a one-of-a-kind home painting company that also offers commercial painting, power washing, carpentry and drywall repair, staining, and gutter installation. Color World is a one-stop-shop and is dedicated to making your home or business the best-looking property on the block.

1build offers the only real-time data platform for construction cost estimates, bringing pricing accuracy and predictability to an ever-changing market. Leveraging a unique team of software engineers and data scientists alongside construction industry veterans, 1build’s proprietary API pulls from millions of data points to create a “periodic table” of construction elements, using data to standardize the way construction projects are priced. With 1build, builders can manage the entire pre-construction process, from plan upload to bid submission—enabling them to win more bids with best-in-class estimating technology and on-demand support from expert cost estimators.

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