Reverse Auctions – Tips for Successful Bidding

Reverse auctions provide an excellent opportunity for increasing your business, particularly in the service sector. The website will notify you of projects posted on a reverse auction site in your area of expertise. You review and bid on those that interest you, and increase your business as you become more successful in your bidding.

To get started, register with selected reverse auction sites that cover the services you provide. Select all the categories you are interested in being notified about, and select the geographical areas that you cover. Most websites will notify you of new projects in your categories and locations. Some reverse auction websites offer the opportunity to include a description of your services, licensing, insurance, bonding, how long you’ve been in business and the like. Most, however, insist that you do not list your contact information, so you’ll need a user name that is different from your business name, and you won’t be able to list phone, e-mail or website address.

This prohibition on contact information stems from two basic causes: First, listing your contact information is an invitation to the customers to contact you directly and subject themselves to your sales pitch before they have had an opportunity to see what other offers the posting might bring out. Second, reverse auction websites normally charge a small fee for successful transactions, and if the business is completed off line, the website will see itself as being short-changed.

So how should you respond to a posting for something you are interested in bidding on? Several factors make for a successful approach.
– Study the posting carefully. Is there enough information for you to adequately bid? Are the size, quality, time frame, accessibility, and other factors clearly spelled out? Are there sketches or photographs to support the posting, so you can better visualize what the job entails?
— If there are details missing, request clarification from the customer. Use the site’s communication tools to tell him or her what you need to know, maybe giving examples of the type of thing required. For example, on a house painting job, maybe the customer didn’t specify the type of paint to use. Suggest your favorite brand and two or three grades for them to pick from. If the sizes aren’t clear, request the specifics you need. If the geographic area isn’t specified, request a zip code so that you know pretty closely where the job is located, assuming it’s a physical job.

– Be sure you check the complete content of the project listing. The contract you enter into is binding on both parties, so you want to be sure you understood everything that was required.

— The other side of this is that the person listing the job may not have included all the information required to do the job, even though the listing appears complete. Include in your bid what your drive-up charge is (again, for a physical job), so that, if the scope is larger than was described, you can describe to the customer how it’s different once you see it, and what the extra charge would be. If they decline, you will have told them what it costs to have you come out to the site and then go away without doing the work. As long as the scope of the work is significantly different than what was described, the contract won’t be valid, but you’ll still be compensated for the time and trouble to show up.

– Many reverse auctions involve programming, website development, editing, technical writing and such, that can be done without ever meeting the customer. In reviewing this type of contract, be sure that the details are clear, and that you ask for clarification you need before bidding. You can, as many suppliers of this type of work do, bid a scoping price, in which the specification and scope of the work will be detailed out in a preliminary contract. Once the full specification is available, you can then bid on the resulting specification.

— Keep an eye on what competitors are bidding, and how they are describing it. Generally you can go back in and modify your bid if you either discover through reviewing their bids that you missed some element of the project, or if they are undercutting your price just don’t allow yourself to become so competitive that you cause yourself a loss!

If you haven’t tried reverse auctions yet give it a whirl. For a few minutes spent registering with a few sites, you may get business opportunities you wouldn’t have seen without being registered. And, as your reputation and rating on the site build up, you will attract more business.