Imagine for a moment you are a maid of honor and are planning an engagement party on behalf of the bride’s parents who graciously offered to pay for the event.  The bride has sent you exact details of what she wants from the venue location to the type of wine along with a wish list of a few items, including Cinderella carriage ice sculpture.  The bride has asked to have the costs and the final list of vendors prepared for a meeting with her mother and father in four weeks, on a Saturday afternoon.  You bravely agree to assist, take the specific instructions and begin planning.

The first week you are busy and don’t make any progress other than reviewing the information and generally compiling a list of who might be a good match to be a part of this big day.

The second week you proceed to talk with your preferred vendors including ice sculptors.  You tell them that you have a meeting with the parents in four weeks and you would like to have their pricing in three weeks on the Wednesday prior to your Saturday meeting with the bride and her parents.  You are concerned that these preferred vendors will be too busy as its wedding season; to establish a backup plan you reach out to a few other vendors that you don’t know that well.  They tell you they will work up some pricing.

The third week your vendor informs you they can’t get the type of wine requested as the vineyard went out of business, the bride understands and tells you she will get back to you in a couple days with other options.  The bride also tells you that she no longer wants yellow as the theme color as her mother finds it tacky and out of style. She issues new information to provide to the vendors, but she doesn’t change the deadline.  During this time you follow up with the vendors and are only able to connect with about half of them. Some say they are working on a quote, some don’t answer and some say they are unable to assist you as they don’t carry the product the bride wants but offer a substitution.  You ask the bride if she would entertain other ideas but at this time her parents are in Italy so she says no and stick to what was selected.

The final week is here and you follow up with your vendors who assure they will submit you a quote on Wednesday.  The bride gets back to you with another wine option and you work to get it out to vendors.  The end of day Wednesday comes and you only have bids from a few of the vendors.  When you call the non-responsive bidders you quickly realize that they know your meeting isn’t until Saturday and they state they will send you their bid at the end of day Friday.  When you ask the harp player why she won’t send you her quote she tells you that she is afraid of being price shopped.  Saturday morning the final vendors respond by email and you have thirty minutes to prepare for this meeting.  Some of the vendors simply send you a number with not detail, others seem to be including most of what you asked for but you notice the supplier of the tent is using water barrels for hold downs and not stakes, which might look ugly.  Finally you get a bid in for catering that is ½ as much as your preferred vendor you have worked with before, your meeting is in 15 minutes and the only way you can meet the budget is to include this quote in your presentation.

It’s time to meet.   You race into the meeting with less than a minute to spare and hand the bride your documents and try to compose yourself.  The parents are pleased to see you and thank you for taking on this project as they know it will go perfectly.  As you are making small talk the bride adds up the number and sees that you have a math error on your total, what you show is $3,000 less than the sum of the itemized numbers, your first bid bust.  You correct the issue and finally you breathe.  The parents and bride immediately inform you that they have to leave and thank you for putting this together.  They approve the bid and a few alternates including the ice sculpture.  Upon their departure they thank you for taking on the responsibility of continuing to prepare for the party and trust that you will have no problems managing it to completion.

Hard bid does have its advantages but reducing stress and the chances for errors is not one of them.  When bidding a project work with your interested general contractors to reduce their risk by structuring an approach that is fair and equitable, it will reduce your risk too.

~ Paul Wember, Owner’s Representative