How To Build a Strong Landscape RFP
Throughout years of being in the industry, we have seen countless variations from different organizations of request for proposals (RFP), or base bid templates. And with that experience, we’ve learned what items must be included, what ones are better left excluded, and what a “red flag” looks like indicating the template is poorly formulated.
The first step to building a strong RFP is selection of a qualified vendor. Here, ask yourself the following questions:
- How long have they been in the business?
- Do they have an inhouse licensed fertilization and irrigation technician?
- Do they have an arborist on staff?
- What is their yearly revenue?
- What is their area of service?
- How many commercial clients do they have?
- What specialties are they known for?
- What percentage of their business is design build, and what percentage is maintenance?
- Do they know who your future point of contact will be? Do they have support staff to back them?
- What is their average renewal rate?
- What is their last three years’ growth rate?
- Are employees cori checked, hold valid drivers licenses, uniformed?
- Can you call on any client in their portfolio for a reference?
- Can you call any clients they no longer service for a reference?
The second step to building a strong RFP is developing the template. In our experience the most common items included are:
- A minimum of 26 weeks of maintenance in order to efficiently budget resources
- Spring clean-up
- Five steps of fertilization
- Sprinkler start-up
- Fall clean-up
- Sprinkler shut-down
While these items can all be customizable to your unique property, some items to exclude during the development of the template are:
- A lot of built in extras on the base bid price
- Lack of mulch quantity
- Lack of description of services to further detail what services consist of
Confusing terminology and the inclusion of these items can actually be considered “red flags” of a poorly formulated template.
The third step to building a strong RFP is test then modify, then test, then modify, then test to perfection. At JC Grounds, we have tested and modified about six different templates, always modifying to become cleaner and clearer, as well as offer something that gives properties the basic services without the need of extra charges. Our template we use today is clean and specific, it allows property managers reviewing it to clearly compare “apples to apples” with clear cut descriptions that identify exactly what services they are paying for, and what additional extras would increase their costs to, allowing them to efficiently plan their budget for the year, while anticipating superior services for base bid items.