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Posted:  13 Jun 2014 19:53  
I am bidding on my first very large corporate complex next week and was curious if any of you have any advice for a newbie. We have several smaller accounts, but nothing big yet.  This will definitely put us up against the pros, and I just got called up from single A.

It will be for office space of about 1000 employees. I assume I will be bidding alongside 2 other smaller businesses as well as one very large regional player.

Any advice on:
presentation of bid?
pricing strategies?
what to say during the walk-through?
types of plants/planters?
Posted:  16 Jun 2014 17:09  
As a single-A player going to the show for the first time, you will be wide-eyed and maybe a bit awestruck by the numbers you are looking at.  It's really just a difference of scale...the plants are the same, there are just a lot more of them!

Often the client will provide bid sheets in the package of information they give you at the bidders' meeting or prior to the meeting.  You just fill in the blanks with your numbers and submit the completed sheets for analysis by their bean-counters and decision-makers.  Some may ask for alternative proposals, but most don't in my experience.

There really is no "pricing strategy" other than staying true to your cost-plus-markup basis.  You don't want to give away too much margin, especially on a large-scale job like this that is your first big account, because you may need that cushion for replacements and unforeseen added service time.

Don't say too much during the walk-through, but do ask questions that are pertinent, such as where is parking for your service vehicle, where are the janitorial closets for water and will you get a key for them, etc. 

Your final question implies that this is a blank slate, new space without any plants yet.  They may specify certain sizes or even varieties of plants and types and finishes of containers, I don't know without seeing the bid sheets.  Make notes on light conditions, space available, etc. as you walk the building so you can refer back as you put together your proposal.

Good luck!  And don't lowball...that's the worst thing you can do.  Nobody needs an account that loses money or just treads water.
Posted:  17 Jun 2014 18:09  
Clem,

Thanks for the advice!  Indeed, it is a blank slate. The building is not finished yet, and there is no bid sheet. This is strickly a 'seat of the pants' type of situation, it appears.  I am curious how they will assess the bids as the plants/planters/numbers of plants will be different from each company.

Do you or anyone else out there use virtual staging software?
Posted:  18 Jun 2014 02:16  
they can't "assess the bids" effectively if there are no specifications and everyone is specifying different quantities and species of plants and containers!

the bids will be chevy's to bentley's and unless you determine exactly what their needs are and you are dealing with the decision maker, you will be wasting your time.

if you decide to give it a shot (and we all have) I would suggest providing a chevy bid and a bentley bid and something in between. maybe an acura?

as for "virtual staging" software, we have used Tropical Computers CD plants for many years.... cdplants.com and ASI has an app that you can subscribe to if you an iPad person.
Posted:  19 Jun 2014 03:05  
it's always disconcerting to me when people post to boards for feedback, but then they don't bother to respond to the feedback that they have been afforded!

why do we even bother?
Posted:  19 Jun 2014 03:55  
It's only been a couple of days, give the guy some slack, Alex!

So this is really not a contract bid opportunity, it's a design/specify/quote situation.  That's a whole different ball of wax.  You will be spending a large amount of time and effort designing and specifying the plants, containers, layout, etc.  For FREE.  The client will be free to take your proposal (if they decide they like it best of all that they receive) and shop it around, probably to the other "bidders", to see if they can have their cake (their favorite design aesthetically) and eat it (the lowest quoted price), too.  Good luck with that.

The PROFESSIONAL way to approach this would be for the client to solicit portfolios of past work from several 'scapers and then choose one firm to do the design work, for which they would be compensated at an agreed-upon rate.  The client would then own the design and specs and would be free to bid them out as such.

Unfortunately, in the interiorscape world, this almost NEVER happens.
Posted:  21 Jun 2014 00:53  
ya right! he really need the feedback didn't hee
Posted:  02 Jul 2014 18:56  
Okay!
Well, sorry for the late response post. I actually do appreciate your responses. I had not been able to check the message board since June 17. So again, sorry.
Posted:  03 Jul 2014 12:22  
The best advice I can give you is that with big accounts come big responsibilities, and sometimes big headaches.  They can sometimes be very demanding. 

Employees will move plants constantly to areas where they will either get forgotten or in the entirely wrong light level.  Doesn't matter if you're leasing them or selling them; doesn't matter if your contact person sends out an email every week telling them not to move the plants--in a company that size they'll move them anyway.  And you can't get into a nickel and dime match over who pays for it because they won't want to pay for replacements when they're paying you  to take care of the plants.  They'll expect you to replace them no matter what. It takes a tech with a ton of patience to do a big account.

Just don't sell yourself short just to get the job--it's easy to get excited about all that extra revenue coming in every month without realizing that they will  eat up a commensurate amount of resources.
Posted:  14 Oct 2014 16:15  
For some reason, I'm not able to enter a new post. Maybe I'm blocked for some reason.
Anyway, I have a question about bids as well.
How do I handle a situation on bidding when a large, (not mentioning any names) but they're international offers to REPLACE existing plants FREE with a signed contract??
I'm still a small company and I can not offer FREE plants - personally, I think this is as bad as lowballing!
Posted:  14 Oct 2014 19:00  
It's not "free"...there's really no such thing as "free".  What they are probably doing is changing over the account from its present maintenance-only status (where the client already owns the goods) to a lease.  With a lease, you install all new plants and containers, amortize their costs and markups over a period of time (usually 24 or 36 months), and if you keep the client happy, many leases continue on ad infinitum, and your ongoing costs are just for service and replacements, for which you are billing in your service rate every billing period anyway.  So you can see that plant leases are the gift that keeps on giving, because very few clients ever terminate as long as they are getting good service and stay in business themselves.  So it's not lowballing...it's just another way of selling the account.  Apples to oranges, you could call it.

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