Business Management, Submitting Proposal, Estimating, Etc.
Get all your ducks in a row before submitting proposal.
by Len Hijuelos
in the painting industry, I have been called on numerous times to testify in court cases involving painting contractors. In practically every case, my testimony was on behalf of the contractor. I wish I could claim a good batting average, but unfortunately, the contractor was the loser in about 90 percent of the cases.
Most of these cases revolved around the proposal or lack thereof. I have to say that I have been astounded by what some contractors consider an adequate proposal, ranging from no written proposal to something like: “Exterior painting $2,000.”
There can be a big difference between what a homeowner considers an adequate job and the contractor considers an adequate job. Most of the disagreements involved surface preparation and number of coats. Again, in most cases, after an evaluation of the price and the work performed, I could honestly say that the owner got what he paid for. However, that does not mean that the job was adequate for the condition of the property.
The whole purpose of a proposal is to define, as specifically as possible, what work is going to be performed for how much money. The scope of work should clearly define the degree of surface preparation, number of coats, any limitation on colors, paint products to be used and a payment schedule. Specificity is the key word.
Once the proposal is drafted, it should be reviewed in detail with the owner. If there are any differences, they should be resolved prior to starting the work and made a part of the proposal.
The idea of a comprehensive proposal is not applicable only to the residential market. The commercial or industrial contractor should follow the same guidelines, that is, drafting a proposal that defines the specification section or sections included in the proposal, as well as those sections that are excluded, and any particular qualifications the contractor wishes to note.
For example, it may not be clear as to whether millwork or cabinetry is to be pre-finished or field finished by the contractor. The contractor should make the general contractor aware of whether or not field finishing is included in his bid, and if not, possibly offer an optional price.
All of this does sound like quite a bit of work, and when one considers how many jobs are bid compared to how many are contracted for, it may not seem to be worth the trouble. But it really is worth that and more if it keeps you out of court.
If you have a specific question or problem area you would like to see discussed, contact Len Hijuelos at P.O. Box 2585, Gretna, LA 70054 or e-mail.