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Part I - How Do General Contractors Manage Their Databases?

In an economy increasingly driven by technology, managing data has become the critical task that nobody does as well as they’d like. As new technologies surface, these processes improve, but the changes are slow and the repercussions to bad data are high – wasted time and money.   

In the construction industry, general contractors are constantly working to make sure they have adequate subcontractor coverage for every job. So naturally, if you’re a subcontractor looking to increase the number of quality bid invitations you receive, understanding how to maximize exposure is critical to your success.  

So keeping in mind that GCs want to find you just as much as you want to find them, we aim to give you some insight into how they manage their database for a mutually beneficial result. With a little insider info, you should be able to make it easier for general contractors to find you, and ultimately, an easier decision for them to choose to work with you.


At the end of this article, you should have a better understanding of:

  • How GCs set up their database

  • How GCs define criteria to create bid lists, and

  • What you can do to stand out from the crowd


Unfortunately, no one is managing their data precisely the same way. Some more tech friendly GCs have enlisted the help of access databases or storage within third-party bidding tools like GradeBeam®, but unfortunately, the trusty Excel® spreadsheet still reigns supreme – and we all know how cumbersome those are to maintain. While each method has plusses and minuses, one constant challenge is that the contact information is often out of date. In some instances, contact info can be more than 10 years old. So if a general contractor has incorrect information, such as listing a past employee as the company’s primary contact, it’s easy to see how you’d find yourself without an invitation to bid, even if they did want to work with you.


So our first piece of advice is simple, but absolutely critical:


1.     Provide updated contact information to your General Contractors on an annual basis.

Making sure you have up-to-date contacts, emails and trade qualifications can go a long way to ensure you are receiving bid invitations.

The databases we see vary greatly in size and completeness. Some regionally focused GCs with strong partnerships may only have 500 contractors in their entire database. Typically they have very clean information and work with subcontractors they know well. The time they spend keeping information up to date means that they can be more selective in their bid requests, reducing risk. These GCs typically expect to get higher response rates, and as a result can get the bid coverage they need with a smaller bid list. However, even if you aren’t on their short list yet, we’ve found that these types of General Contractors are still very receptive to working with new subcontractors, but typically want to have more information upfront. They want to know about things like your past performance and financial stability before adding you to their bid list, not after. So for these more selective partnerships, our second piece of advice is this:


2.     Provide GCs with a more detailed package of information about your company when initially building the relationship.

This shows them that you are highly organized, easy to work with and more than likely, can be trusted.

On the other hand, some general contractors have much larger databases. Generally these tend to be GCs that cover a larger work area, are willing to travel to new areas, or employ a strategy of getting as many bids as they can for a project. This approach is used knowing that it will require more time qualifying bids and contractors prior to finalizing the buyout phase. These larger databases are more difficult to keep accurate and can make it difficult to predict whether a bid list will provide sufficient bid coverage. As a result, these GCs must continue adding new subcontractors to their database regularly. So for these general contractors we think providing basic company contact information is often sufficient to be added to their bid list, as long as it’s up to date.


So to wrap it up, we’ve compiled a list of the basic data points we’ve noticed are the most commonly required when our GC customers are constructing their bid lists:

  • Company name
  • Contact name and title
  • Email address
  • Phone
  • Fax
  • Trade codes (section level and structural level)
  • Certifications
  • Union type
  • Work area


So what should you take away from this?

Know your audience and market yourself accordingly.

Just a few simple steps and you will find yourself more likely to receive invitations from the general contractors you want to work with for the jobs you’re perfectly qualified for.



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