Decoding RFQ/RFP Requirements - Part II
What they ask vs. what they really mean.
We are happy to present Part II of Decoding RFQ/RFP Requirements, covering eight additional points to consider when preparing your response to an RFQ or RFP for professional design or construction services. If you missed Part I, you can view it anytime at http://eepurl.com/X2BUL
9. Your submittal is restricted to a total of 20 letter-sized pages, with a minimum 10-point font and one-inch margins on all sides.
The page limit requirement on submittals is becoming more and more common, and as people are trying to find creative ways of fitting 40 pages of information into a 20-page document, so are the restrictions on font size and margins. These requirements are born out of client frustration. Clients often receive numerous responses to an RFP, and they simply do not have the time to read through dozens of pages of information. Unless there is a “Miscellaneous” or “Other” section allowed at the back of the submittal for additional company materials not already requested, heed the page limit restrictions. Leave out the 10-page list of awards your firm has won since 1972 and copies of every letter of recommendation your firm has ever received. Only include copies of certificates (LEED, professional registrations, etc.) as requested and try to keep professional resumes to one page each.
10. The deadline is Tuesday, September 30th at 4:00pm - NO EXCEPTIONS. Submit all questions regarding this RFP via email to firstname.lastname@example.org - NO EXCEPTIONS.
When a client says NO EXCEPTIONS in an RFP, they really do mean it. This is especially true when dealing with public agencies whose spending and selection practices are often held to close scrutiny. Do not call them with questions if the RFP says to submit them via email. Do not ask for a special deadline extension that no one else will receive. Do not try to talk to RFP contacts off-the-record and put them in a position where they may be accused of showing favoritism. Following their rules and respecting the RFP instructions will gain you a much more positive showing when the client begins to evaluate candidates.
11. Describe the proximity of your office location to the project site - or - Describe your understanding of local conditions.
When clients ask about your office proximity, they want to know you will be there when they call and they will not have to wait hours for a response to issues on their jobsite. When clients ask about your understanding of local conditions, they are often expecting a multi-layered response. Are you aware of soil conditions in the area? Do you know how to handle weather conditions common to the area? Are you familiar with the local subcontractor market and pricing for the region? If you are proposing on a job, particularly from an out-of-state location, you need to answer these questions thoroughly and convincingly.
12. Describe your in-house capabilities - or - Provide a description of the work you are able to self-perform.
From a client’s viewpoint, often having more subcontractors means having more problems. It means more companies involved in the communication chain. It means more schedules to coordinate. It could even mean potential cost and delay issues if a subcontractor is not financially stable and drops out of the job. Clients want a point of contact they can trust with as little drama as possible. If you earn their trust and can provide the services they need in-house – especially at a cost savings to them – it can be a strong selling point for your firm.
13. How do you deal with conflict resolution - or - Describe your experience managing community outreach on high profile projects.
The NIMBY phenomenon – or Not In My Back Yard – is common among residents who oppose any kind of construction activities by where they live. Unfortunately, the majority of design/construction projects happen near areas where people live and work. The last thing clients and developers want are picketers on the 5:00 news or hundreds of complaints thrown their direction on a regular basis. If this question arises, it means they want to rely heavily on the person(s) managing their project to achieve good working relationships with the neighbors and local vendors and subcontractors. It is clearly a potential pain point for them. Tell them how you will relieve it.
14. What kind of a warranty do you offer on your projects?
If an error is discovered on the design drawings after drafting is complete, or if something on the project breaks or quits working a week, a month, a year after construction completion, what should the client do? What kind of guarantees do you offer on your work? If you offer a warranty, how long is it good for and what types of items does it cover? You probably already have some kind of internal policy in this regard, and the majority of clients will understand that the warranty period cannot go on forever. Give them the parameters and let them decide if those stipulations work for them.
15. List the LEED personnel that will be assigned to this project - or - Describe your experience on LEED certified projects/sustainable design and construction efforts.
This question generally has a deeper meaning than the client just wanting you to list the number of LEED personnel employed by your organization. They want to know about your abilities when it comes to sustainable design and construction. What will you do to make their project environmentally friendly? Will these options save them money or be affordable during construction? If they decide to pursue LEED certification, can you help walk them through those steps in as painless a manner as possible?
16. For each project you highlighted in your experience section, list the number and amount of change orders along with the reason for each one.
Some firms have a reputation of bidding low to win jobs only to make up the difference by treating every little element as a change order with an additional cost. Clients are leery of this, so they often ask questions about initial costs versus final costs, including requesting details on change order quantities and reasons. If a client made a change to the scope of the project that necessitated a change order, be sure to highlight those change orders as owner-initiated changes to the scope of work and give details (provided they are not covered by a non-disclosure agreement).
The beauty, and often the frustrating part, of RFQs and RFPs is their uniqueness. Of the hundreds of submittals we have prepared, we have never seen two that were completely identical. The trick is to know your client, review the documents carefully and be prepared to read between the lines for the true meaning of each question.
- Amo Creative Solutions, LLC staff have been creating successful statements of qualification and proposal responses for over 15 years. Contact us when you are ready to prepare your next submittal, and we can help you determine what information your client really wants.