Tips For Bidding On Restaurant Jobs


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According to the National Restaurant Association, there are well over a million restaurants in the United States. More than 9 out of 10 restaurants employ 50 or fewer people and about 7 out of 10 are single unit restaurants. This means that they individually make the decision on who to hire and when.

If you’re a contractor, bidding on restaurant jobs opens up new opportunities to grow your service business. Knowing what a restaurant owner looks for when choosing between bids can give your company the edge over others competing for the same work.

Don’t Overlook Small Tasks
You can often develop a relationship with a restaurant by working on smaller jobs and showing the owner/management that you are dependable and do quality work. Adam Elzer is a veteran in the New York City hospitality industry. He has operated restaurant groups and founded REC Hospitality with Shane Covery (Upstate Oyster Bar) and Pery Ranbar. The group opened two restaurants in 2015 (Edwin & Neal’s Fish Bar and Coco & Cru).

Adam shared, “We hire contractors for everything from full restaurant build outs to smaller jobs like moving a bar area, moving walls, or re-skinning an existing restaurant to make it feel well kept.”

Understand the Scope of the Job
Ronda Weems grew up watching her parents run a small family restaurant. It seemed only natural that she’d take over the family business. However, she soon learned that there was something she needed to look for when hiring an HVAC company to replace the heating and cooling system at Scribbles Café.

“I hired the lowest bid. Big mistake! He kept coming back and asking for more money for things I felt should have been included.”

Before you bid a job, make sure you understand exactly what the customer wants and that your bid is enough to cover your costs and your time for the work required. Remember that your long-term reputation is at stake as restaurant owners talk to one another.

Write a Strong Proposal
Elzer looks for some specific things when going through bids for a project. “We look for a very strong proposal. We want to see past work and talk to past clients. We are very careful not to pay for jobs upfront, as we want to pay as progress is made to ensure we don’t get stuck with a contractor who cannot deliver on what is promised.”

If you fully understand the scope of the job, you should be better able to write a strong proposal that addresses the needs of the customer. Break down the different aspects of the job, so that the potential client can see just what you are charging for each task. Then, if he has a question, it is easy enough for him to ask.

For items you plan to throw in or that you’ve offered at a discount, be sure to include that information in the proposal. For example, “10% off for cash payment in full upon completion of work.”

Get Everything in Writing
Weems mentioned that she and the contractor didn’t really communicate well. She takes partial responsibility over that confusion. “I should have insisted on a contract,” she said.

This is actually good advice for contractors as well. Imagine that you are a restaurant owner and you’ve talked to four different contractors and looked at four bids. You finally choose a contractor, hire them, and work begins.

Then, you realize that the contractor isn’t fixing the ventilation system in the kitchen. However, the restaurant owner might be remembering a bid from a different contractor that included something you and he never even spoke about. If you have the work order in writing or have a contract in place, it is much easier to refer the client back to the written agreement so that the two of you can work through any concerns more easily.

Know the Rules in Your Area
When asked if he had any contractor horror stories, Elzer shared that he did. “We have had contractors miss their deadline by months, not file permits properly, and get us shut down by the DOB (Department of Buildings), turn off plumbing in buildings with residents that live above without the proper warning, go through walls into other spaces, etc. Basically everything you could imagine at one point or another has gone wrong in the 20ish restaurants that I have either built or helped build in NYC.”

Make sure you understand the industry you wish to work in and any permits or special considerations.

Gaining new restaurant jobs can open up your business to a new clientele you otherwise wouldn’t reach. An excellent bid will go a long way, but don’t overlook the power of good, old fashioned networking to gain these jobs.

Elzer said it best, when he said, “Coming into our restaurants and eating a meal is a good place to start. This could land an impromptu meeting with me and be the beginning of a long relationship.”

Lori Soard

Posted In: Management, Money, Uncategorized

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