Requests for Proposals (RFPs) are a tool managers can use to ensure the best products and specifications are used in their projects. By getting all vendors to bid on the same specifications and use the same materials you are ensuring that you are receiving comparable bids at the most competitive pricing.

However, if it is not done correctly, this process can produce no bids, bids that are a waste of your time and unwanted frustration. Common mistakes people tend to make when writing an RFP are to include vague details, no materials list and short turn-around times.

Writing a good RFP and managing a well thought out process to select the right partner for your association can mean the difference between a great success and a total disaster for you and everyone involved.

Here are some valuable tips and recommendations to help write a great RFP.

Step 1

Do your research and decide on a project with your Board that fits in with the association budget. Sure it would be nice to paint the entire complex, but does the association only have enough budget to do half this year?

Step 2

Determine whether this project will be a one-year project or phased out throughout several years. Maybe the association can’t afford all of the association painting this year but could if it is phased over the course of 3 years. Being up front with the vendors about this could impact their pricing and possibly hold pricing over the course of the 3 years.

Step 3

Select a qualified contractor to inspect the property and prepare the scope of work. A professional in their field can more easily identify the issues an association has, over a board member or property manager with either little to no experience in the repairs needed or that is juggling 8 different association needs. This contractor in conjunction with a manufacturer representative can determine the best products and warranties needed for your project. If this project is to have a master list of replacements or repairs it is best to have your selected contractor provide this list as well. Or else, you will have 3-5 vendors providing their own lists for these repairs/replacements. Talk about a nightmare! For example, if Vendor A submits a wood replacement list of 20 areas of replacement for a total of $6,000 and Vendor B submits a more comprehensive wood replacement list for 45 areas of replacement for a total cost of $15,000 how would you be able to compare them? Sure the association may be inclined to go with Vendor A due to their low pricing but in the end this could end up being costlier to the association if this vendor missed a lot of areas that Vendor B had accounted for and had to submit additional change orders adding additional expenses. Why not have all vendors bid off the same master list to avoid this type of headache?

Step 4

Select and distribute your RFP to qualified, reputable and trusted vendors.

Step 5

Remember your end goal. Your end goal is not to simply go with the lowest bidder or to just get the job done. Your end goal is to find a partner in which you can trust your association needs and more than exceed your and your Board’s expectations.

While these may seem like obvious tips, they’re always good to keep in mind to save both time and effort and to avoid unnecessary frustrations. By following these steps, you will ensure all vendors who bid will have the same information and therefore an apple to apples comparison can be made which in turn could make the vendor selection a simple task.

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Chris Matson


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