Remember the old cartoons when the character’s head would turn into a big sucker? Ever feel that way after getting left off the shortlist or when being notified who the project was awarded to? Here are some things to look for when deciding to submit a proposal in response to a request for proposal.

  1. Short proposal timeframe – If an owner has given you less than two weeks from the time the RFP is advertised to the date you are required to submit, they may be hoping you won’t find the RFP, and, if you do, that you won’t have enough time to respond.
  2. Hidden advertisement – Public agencies are required to advertise RFPs but often there is no requirement where they do so. If you locate the announcement in an obscure journal, take pause.
  3. RFP asks you to define your scope of services – Some owners don’t have an Owner’s Representative on board assisting them to define the scope of services and if they don’t know what services exactly they are asking for, they leave this important exercise up to proposing firms. Other owners are simply not interested in doing the work of a formal RFP, as they already know who they want to hire. If you are asked to do work that is normally provided in a typical RFP, such as scope of services, chances are you have been set up to fail. If you put in a full scope your fee is too high, if you put in reduced scope you will end up in a strained relationship.
  4. RFP lists a competitor’s name in the document – Yes, this happens and it’s often found in the sample contract published as part of the RFP–read it closely. If it’s in the project history, do some due diligence prior to submitting.
  5.  All previous projects have gone to the same firm – We are proud to have been awarded projects that seemed the incumbent appeared to have wrapped up. It’s not easy to do–you need to have a clear differentiator.  As an example, we were awarded a renovation project that had significant HazMat issues, something we could speak directly to. We devised a cost-saving solution that couldn’t be refuted. It can be done, but if you have other job leads and RFP options, consider making them the priority.

Paul Wember ~ Owner’s Representative