A bid proposal is at its core, a “best guess” of time and materials for your company to complete a scope of work. As a contractor, you will need to put forward the first guess of how much a project will cost, and how much time it will require. The parties engaged can sign an agreement that binds to these values from the very beginning, making the project complexities down the road easier to manage.
When you are building a house, the choices you make at the start define the size of the project. Because of the style, price range, and features all need to be coherent within the project, these initial selections are the best ways to define the project from the very beginning.
This template includes the best recommendations about what to include in a Bid Proposal, and even sections for binding signatures should the parties choose to use such a document.
You’ll need to do all of the proper research and homework first, but this template will give you a head-start and a good framework. You should always consult a lawyer though before finalizing any contracts.
When you’re trying to start work with a new contract, you need to look for some structured forms and documents to organize all of your information. Before the client accepts your company as a contractor for the work, you need to propose the scope of work or project. They may have provided any number of documents to start, such as an invitation to bid, request for proposal, letter of request, or an estimate form, and your company needs to respond in kind.
There are three main types of proposals that you may want to make to get the approval of a company to begin a project. Think of the proposal as an interview for your company. There are many stages, which increase in complexity as you get more and more involved with the company which is offering the work. If the company is small, one type of contract is required, with specifications that usually aren’t too in-depth or resource-intensive. Larger companies will require more time, money, and quality, as you may have many competitors which you need to beat to win the contract.
Contractors and larger companies commonly spend $10k or more on project proposals, typically called “Pitches”. A large section of the work is done on behalf of the contractor without knowing whether or not they will be chosen. Pitching can be very competitive, so businesses spend large resources on knowing how to beat their competitors, who also spend large sums of money preparing pitches. Pitches can include extremely complex project management plans, media content, example work, R&D, and proof of concept prototypes, all at the expense of the Contractor with just a small chance that they will land the contract.
Proposals are smaller than pitches. They typically talk about the Pricing for the work, Process, Background, Deliverables, and Timeline. They describe the features, level of quality, level of speed, and relative pricing. Have you heard of the contractor’s triangle? It is a practical theory that uses three elements that must balance each other: “fast, good, and cheap”. You can’t have all three, and when one element is prioritized, it always takes away from the others. Your project will need to set these priorities from the beginning and tell stakeholders what these choices mean from a practical standpoint.
When you are presenting a proposal, often you are presenting with a large group, such as a planning committee or board of directors. These people all have different roles, so they all see things in different perspectives. The CTO cares about technical requirements, while the CFO thinks about the financial strengths and weaknesses. Tailor the presentations, supporting documents, script, and phrasing to meet the jargon and language of each role separately.
Tailor your language to fit in. A board of directors doesn’t like to have to adapt to someone or to a company that does things differently than them. Speak their language, adapt their mannerisms. “Match and Mirror”, and you can leverage their paradigms to display the project’s goals from a perspective that they understand and are receptive to.
A “bid” is the smaller of the three types of documents. In its simplest form, it’s just time and materials, a best shot in the dark guess. Think of a bid as an ante-in, in a poker game. You might not have any idea about what other parties might expect to see in the pot at the end of the game, and have to guess. It’s your job as a contractor to make the first move. If you assign too much time and material resources to your project, you run the risk of forcing your client to fold and walk away. If you put too little, you may lose and your company might not be profitable.
In the bid template, we have here, you will be able to fill out the primary ingredients you need to make a formal contract. This kind of document is suitable for small companies, small projects, or unknown scale projects. One of the most common reasons to have a bid might be for construction, road maintenance, salvage, or other very well defined types of work.
Freelancers might also offer bids, because of the general closed-definition of most freelancing work. The bids should include contact information, a list of tasks and milestones, and a schedule. If the bid is the only document you need, such as for a small project, or a project with a trusted relationship already existing between client and contractor, there is an option to make it a binding and signed agreement to complete work as per the schedule, description, and milestones defined.
Keep in mind that regardless of the quality of your bid, you can’t win every job, and the risk of loss can not reasonably be decreased by sending more documents to the client. You always need to close the deal with personal relationship building. In-person pitching is the best way to win any project. Listen to what the client needs and wants, then underpromise and overdeliver. Focus initially not on making a profit, but on building relationships, and your long term prospects in business will look much brighter.
See some of the other templates for assistance on other documents that might be useful in your project. For example, you may want to attach a Work Order to the Bid or use a defined Work Plan from a set of templates for well-defined labor. In general, the more well-defined your proposals are, the more likely they are to impress your clients and win the job. Use the templates here to reduce your time and effort in making these documents, and stay organized so you can re-use the information on the next project too.