Natural Disasters: Include Compassion in the Bid Process

If the opportunity arises to bid on work in areas affected by natural disasters, put yourself in the shoes of the individuals or companies involved.

It's hard to find positives in the disastrous events that have occurred throughout much of the southern half of the U.S. But let's face it – there is opportunity to be had even in the most devastating circumstances. In "Reconstruction Lifts Economy After Disasters" (May 31, 2011), Michael Cooper of The New York Times notes, "… a new phase is slowly beginning in some hard-hit areas: reconstruction, which past disasters show is typically accompanied by a burst of new, and different, economic activity.

There is no silver lining to a funnel cloud, as anyone who survived the tornadoes can attest, but reconstruction can help rebuild local economies as well as neighborhoods." Already, steps are being taken to clear away rubble and lay the foundation for reconstruction in many areas.

Contractors with experience or specialization in recovery and restoration are uniquely positioned to speed this process. And once their work is done, home builders, remodelers and commercial construction firms will begin the next step of restoring affected communities. In the current economy, where profit margins have been squeezed to the point of breaking, the ready flow of insurance money pouring into the region can seem like the light at the end of a very long tunnel. Yet, it's important to approach the work ahead with fairness.

Unfortunately, as Cooper points, "…reconstruction also attracts vultures who prey on the desperate, through price-gouging or fraud." If the opportunity arises to bid on work in areas affected by recent natural disasters, take a moment to put yourself in the shoes of the individuals or companies involved. If the situation were reversed, how would you want to be treated? As a business, you must build a profit into your bid; however, keep in mind that insurance money is not "free money." As it is paid out, each of us pays the price in the long run as insurance companies seek to recoup their losses following such major events. (Think back to so-called "terrorism" insurance following 9/11.) And while there are obvious humanitarian reasons, there are other incentives to incorporate fairness in the bid process.

Provided you pair it with high-quality workmanship, compassionate bidding in a time of crisis can come back to you many times over in terms of the good will and positive publicity it generates. This could lead to both referral and repeat business in the weeks, months and years ahead. Such potential for future reward far outweighs any short-term gains that might be achieved by padding a bid to make up for past losses, or worse, using shoddy materials or workmanship to maximize profit at the expense of those who have already lost so much.