The construction RFP is often the weakest point in a construction company’s efforts to get new government and private business. That’s because many construction companies cannot show the value behind their requests for proposals. Some don’t make a clear case for how their proposal differs from others.
Here is the story behind the construction RFP and how you can turn it from your weakest point to your strongest.
What Is A Construction RFP?
A public agency or a private company issues a construction request for proposal, or a construction RFP, when trying to build or improve a property.
A construction RFP is a way for organizations to get details for accomplishing their goals from potential vendors and helps to find the best contractor for the work on the drawing boards. The construction RFP is usually the last step in the process when an organization is making capital improvements.
You will find many acronyms tied to RFPs because different institutions have their own localized language nuances. Two of the more common terms are RFQ, or requests for quotations, and RFI, requests for information.
Organizations use the RFQ to get prices for products and services from the vendors offering those items. You will also come across related terms like ‘call for bids’ and ‘invitation to bid.’ In these cases, the issuer is looking for a price on a common item that doesn’t have unique characteristics.
Agencies and companies use RFIs to gather information for capital improvements. The organization is probably in the early stages of deciding how to proceed, so it is looking for ideas. By asking contractors to provide their perspectives, the issuers of RFIs are hoping to identify contractors who would be the best fit for their project.
Construction RFP Examples
If you wish to review construction RFP examples, you will find many online. For example, in 2013, Hinesburg Vermont issued an RFP for a new police station. This RFP included all the specifications for each of the Master Format sections, along with details on the timeline for completing the RFP process.
The Tribune Building Project in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, issued an RFP in 2015 for construction management of improvements to the building. This RFP went into great detail about the construction aspects of the project and the historical and cultural importance attached to the building.
Construction RFP Template
When organizations issue a construction RFP, they do so in a very specific format, and contractors must follow that format. So, the construction RFP template is the construction RFP itself. The RFP issuer will expect you to lay out your RFP response in the same manner and order as the document to which you are responding.
For example, the issuer will number each section, so in your response, you will use the same numbers when answering the questions or providing information within each section.
In this construction RFP template example, check out page 38. Section 6.11.4 describes the Technical Approach, which asks you to explain how you will go about the project’s technical details.
In your RFP response, there will be a corresponding section 6.11.4 labeled Technical Approach where you will tell your approach to the technical aspects.
Dos And Don’ts Of A Successful Construction RFP Response
Besides attending to accuracy and truth when responding to construction RFPs, you can also improve your acceptance rate by following a few dos and don’ts.
Construction RFP Dos
- Pay attention to the RFP rating scale. A thorough construction RFP will include a scale telling you how much weight the issuer places on each portion of the document.
So, the issuer might make a company’s experience and qualifications count as 20% of its evaluation. They might assign a weight of 30% to the technical approach. This scale can help decide whether to submit a response and thus save resources by not chasing RFP projects you are least likely to win.
- As you respond to construction RFPs, start putting your standard company information into a knowledge base to use it in future RFPs quickly. You might also include specialized responses like those describing your differentiators into the base.
- When answering questions about your approach to specific aspects of the project, it helps to include information unique to you and your firm. Perhaps you have an individual on board who specializes in one aspect of building, or you have specialized tools that improve quality. Think about all the ways you can distinguish yourself from others who would submit proposals on the same RFP.
Construction RFP Don’ts
- When you look at construction RFP response examples, you might notice people including reams of information about their companies. While it’s tempting to include everything about your company’s history and accomplishments in your construction RFP response, it can detract if the information isn’t relevant to the project. Choose the information that is most relevant to the RFP and the project.
- Boilerplate statements are fine when they directly fit the question, but they rarely do. Worse, these standard snippets are so overused they not only make the reader’s eyes glaze over, but they also have little meaning. Doesn’t every company think of themselves as “value leaders driving results?” Think about each sentence and paragraph, and ask yourself what message the words convey. Then, recast them so they relate to the needs of the RFP.
- Your people, both employees and partners, have strengths and perspectives that can help craft the best responses to construction RFPs. Don’t neglect to ask for their input. The people on the front lines know the challenges of balancing what the design calls for with the limiting factors they face on most projects. Their contribution will make your RFP response real, and it will offer you the chance to shine.
While it’s true the construction RFP process may be daunting, it is a process any company can master. The greatest keys to success are knowing which RFPs to invest in and ensuring each RFP response fits the project.