A Good Construction Proposal Starts by Asking the Right Questions

This Proposal System Helps You to Not Overlook Things You Need to Know

Another week has gone by and John’s looking forward to today’s meeting. As they wrapped up last week’s meeting, Gene indicated that they will “actually” learn the first step in the proposal system today.

As John goes into XYZ Construction Company’s conference room Gene is sitting at his computer with a Power Point on the big TV ready to go. “Good afternoon Gene, are you ready to get started learning the first step for doing better proposals?”

“I’ve been looking forward to it all week long.” says John.

“Okay. There’s oriental takeout there on the counter. Fill a plate and let’s get started.”

As they fill their plates, Gene asks John,

“When you begin talking with a new customer, what’s the first thing you ask?”

John ponders the question as he sets down. “I ask them about their construction project. What is the work they want done? For example, are they wanting to add on a room addition or remodel the kitchen or do they want to replace the windows? You know…

“WHAT is it they want done.”

“This is the typical question asked by most contractors. Without a doubt it’s a question that has to be asked. But, there’s another question that helps you serve your customer better and achieve their construction dream.

The most important question is WHY.

Why does the customer want to do this project? Do they need more space, does something need repaired or replaced, are they looking to make an area more usable, or is it just because they want to? Learning their why early helps determine a clear direction of ’the what’.

As the construction professional, it’s your job to guide the customer through this process. Most customers have very little if any experience doing construction projects. Often, they get ideas from DIY programs on TV or the internet, other people’s projects, etc. and they just want one of “those”, whatever that is.

Every project is as different as the customer. Without blueprints, specs or seeing the existing location the chances of giving the customer the project they want, is almost impossible. Unless they have a full set of blueprints and specifications to bid from, you need to gather the information for the specific project.”

The customer will have a vague image in their mind of what they want. It’s the contractor’s responsibility to guide them to the realization of that dream.

Information that needs to be gathered:

  • Project info (customer name, mailing address, project address if different than mailing, phone number, email address, project overview, budget, project deadline, any other relevant information that you need)
  • Measurements and dimensions, existing and new
  • Building materials, existing and new
  • Pictures of pertinent areas and existing construction
  • Customer’s design ideas and finishes

The important thing is to not overlook something.

“Use whatever way works best for you to gather the information. If you prefer to write on paper, print out a copy of the Bid Sheet template, it has a list of the different construction tasks that might be needed. Use the space next to each task for writing down a brief description, dimensions, specific notes, drawings, etc.

A pre-determined list minimizes the possibility of forgetting something.

If you prefer using an electronic device (tablet, smart phone or laptop) enter the information in the appropriate space on the Bid Sheet template.With most of the electronic devices now, you can either type, write or draw right on the device. Using the electronic form streamlines the process and reduces the chance of something getting overlooked. Be sure to keep a copy of the template for the project you are working on; this will leave a blank template for the next time.

Forgetting to include something in the proposal is a sure way to lose money.

There are over one hundred items listed on the Bid Sheet and it still doesn’t cover every possibility. Construction projects vary a lot. Even small projects can include a lot of different pieces. If you leave one of the pieces out, someone’s going to be disappointed.

If you start with a list, you’re less likely to overlook things.

Here’s an example of finding out the WHY:

When meeting with customer Jane Smith she explained that she wanted to add a laundry/sewing room to her house but didn’t know where to start or what it should include. We asked her WHY. We found that she loved to sew and did a lot of it. Currently she used the table in the main floor dining room for measuring and cutting and did the sewing on a machine in the basement. In addition to this her washer and dryer were in two separate closets in the master bathroom. Both situations were inconvenient for her.

Finding out her why helped us to present solutions for building her dream.

Here’s an example of the information gathered on the Bid Sheet:”

“If you’re serious about doing better proposals and haven’t bought your Blueprint for Building a Better Proposal system yet, I would suggest that you get that done. Then you could use the Bid Sheet this week when you meet with someone wanting a proposal. Bring it with you and we’ll go through it and answer your questions.

Next week we’ll take the information from the Bid Sheet and prepare a Scope of Work for Jane Smith’s project.”

Previous posts in this series –

What is “business clarity” and how do you find it?

Learning How to Get a Construction Project Started Out Right

It’s Time for the First Meeting

Being Aware of the Common Bid Mistakes is the Best Way to Avoid Them

Constructing a Building is Better with a Plan, a Proposal is No Different

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