The professional competitive edge

NPCA update

About the middle of the season when things seem tough... they just seem to get worse! This year has been a tough one for many contractors, even tougher for contractors without something like the National Pavement Contractors Association Customer Satisfaction Assurance policy as a competitive edge. (To learn more about this policy visit The low-ball bidders have swarmed, increasing the number of bids per job, and they are the guys who will cut corners to keep those bids artificially low.

One of the biggest problems in this business is that the majority of contractors in this field are not always businessmen; some contractors don't understand calculating profit margins, determining efficiency, being as productive as possible, and remaining competitive while holding onto those all-important profits. They're just out there trying to get more jobs. They think the more jobs they do, and the harder they work, the more successful they'll be. And after a couple of years like the one we're having now these contractors may end up wondering how they were so busy yet their accountants tell them they have no money and are out of business.

In order to compete today contractors need to be businessmen. That's hard this time of year. There are too many places to be, calls to return, machinery breaking down, and all the other things that happen in the middle of the season.

But if a contractor is going to be successful this year and things don't look certain, stop and take a good long look at the business. Things like where to improve efficiency or looking at which jobs to pass on because it might be more profitable to let one of the low-balls have it while you go out and do quality work for someone who is looking for a good job. Then efficient scheduling and performance is more important than ever.

The only way to win the game when things are like they are now is...not to play! Don't put your bid in there with others hoping that yours turns out lower or something about your looks makes them choose your company. Make sure it is better.

Is that bid as professional as it can be? Does it have a computer-generated personalized cover sheet? Is it in a clear plastic binder? Do you have full documentation, provide a binder full of details about why your work is better, why the quality is higher, why it will last longer, every single step detailed out to show how much "work" you put into it, and why it's worth it to pay the price you're asking? Whatever strategy a contractor is using, it must be a defined strategy. A contractor has to work a strategy to pick the most profitable jobs, get that job, and then be as efficient as possible in doing that job to protect profit margins so there will be money in the bank at the end of the year, even if the contractor doesn't do quite as many jobs as last year. When the going gets tough...get going - but plan where you want to get!

For more about NPCA and its benefits visit