Expert Tips to Winning Design and Construction Contracts from Georgia Tech
Become an AEC Partner of Georgia Tech
In this episode of AEC Marketing for Principals, Scott Jones, joins us to share his story. Jones is the Assistant Vice President of Facilities, Design, and Construction at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and he runs a progressive operation that oversees all of Georgia Tech’s design and construction projects. The institution consistently releases around $450M-$500M in AEC projects per year, and competition to be awarded those contracts is fierce.
Jones has held a myriad of design and construction management roles throughout his career and is a more sophisticated buyer than many of his counterparts on the owner’s side. His multi-discipline experience translates into a deep understanding of what he and the institution need for a project, high expectations, and a knowledge of the exact characteristics Jones is looking for in AEC partners on a project-by-project basis.
So how do you win work with Georgia Tech?
Utilize the Georgia Procurement Registry
When you are seeking work from Georgia Tech, the best place to start is the Georgia Procurement website where Jones’ team posts all of the new opportunities after they’re made public. The projects vary significantly, so if you register as a vendor you can set a filter with the exact project specifications you’re looking for to ensure that you don’t miss an opportunity. It is important to be proactive with your search, but the standards are extremely high and you need to be honest with yourself about your firm’s capabilities with particular types of work. In this case, your AEC marketing will still help Scott and his team become familiar with your brand.
Be Honest with yourself
To win business from Georgia Tech, your firm has to meet their baseline needs and that is why he makes ‘listening’ a number one priority. As a business leader in the AEC industry, you need to have the ability to listen to GT’s needs and understand them in-depth, because if you present Jones with canned goods you’ll be wasting both parties’ time. You then have to weigh those needs against your firm’s resources and decide whether or not you can handle the project that Georgia Tech has advertised. Jones’ weed-out program is really that simple, and it routinely yields a competitive shortlist of qualified firms. If you are capable, create an AEC marketing strategy that shows it. When you submit a proposal, make sure you are not submitting boilerplate. Instead, you should be providing information about how your team will bring their expertise to the table, how you plan to approach the project, and how you will be able to work collaboratively.
Understand the Funding Sources
Any publicly-funded project over $1M in construction value has to be approved by the Board of Regents, and that is when it can make its debut in the public arena. Projects are funded through the GT Campus Foundation, through private donors, and through strategic corporate partners but Jones’ team utilizes the same procurement process regardless. The only difference is who is part of the process. Again, creating an AEC marketing strategy that helps you build relationships with these professionals before the selection process will make all the difference.
For publicly-funded projects going through the Board of Regents and/or it has GSFIC involved, they will each contribute representatives to the selection committee. If funding is provided by an affiliate organization like the Athletic Association for example, then that group will supply representatives to the selection committee. In any case, just know that the team Scott Jones leads will be involved.
People design and build projects, not companies
When pursuing work at GT, the people on your team are more important to the selection committee than the work in your portfolio. Show the value of your team in your AEC marketing efforts. When it is time to weigh the go/no-go and prepare a proposal, a good approach is to present with the people who will actually be working on the project and articulate the expertise that they will be bringing to the table. Steer clear of pure corporate resumes because Jones knows he is selecting the expertise of a team of people, not a firm.
Remain current and innovate
Scott Jones’ maintains high expectations in the selection process to reflect the institution he represents because Tech is a leading, global research institution. GT is on the cutting edge of a full-spectrum of disciplines, and just as they are leading a revolution in biomedical and robotics, the university is pushing the envelope of design and construction management as well. Jones strives to maintain a track record of delivering projects that meet expectations and maximize the program that can be delivered with the amount of money that’s available. Your AEC marketing collateral should highlight your firm’s track record of success and innovation. Having a team that is constantly exploring new tools and technologies with a willingness to experiment makes that possible, and Georgia Tech only wants to partner with the best AEC firms that share their vision for innovation.
Georgia Tech wants firms that have the capacity and resources to take on their projects, with team members who know how to roll up their sleeves and get the job done. If you are interested in chasing down work from Georgia Tech, make sure to visit the Georgia Procurement website and weigh the project requirements against the expertise and abilities that your AEC firm has to offer. For more ways to build your marketing strategy to win more work with institutions like Georgia Tech, listen to our podcast episode, How to Win work with Georgia Tech, with Scott Jones.