The goals for any service business proposal are the same: introduce your organization, highlight your services, describe the costs, and convince the client that you are the right one to trust for the job. To speed up the proposal writing process, you may want to use pre-designed templates and get ideas from sample proposals.
Whether you are describing plumbing services, bidding a construction project, promoting your house painting services, quoting an HVAC installation, pitching your plan for a remodel, or even asking for funding to start up or expand a contractor business, your proposal structure will be similar. Here's the basic structure to follow: introduce yourself, summarize the prospective client's needs, then describe your services and costs, and finally, provide information about your organization, your credentials, and your capabilities.
For a contractor business, you will also need to include some detailed information about your services and history that is pertinent to the client's specific project. For example, painting contractors might need to include information about the paints, stains, and equipment they typically use; remodeling contractors may want to include descriptions and photos of similar remodels they have successfully completed; and a general contractor would definitely want to include information about the experience and training of company personnel, safety records, bonding, insurance and so forth.
Always keep in mind that the purpose of a proposal is to persuade your potential clients to give you their business. You must prove that you can deliver the services they need. A simple quote or price list can never substitute for a real proposal.
Proposals should be targeted to a specific client. This means you need to gather information about your client so that you can present a proposal tailored to that individual client's needs. It's never a good idea to send all prospective clients the same sales letter especially when there are competing bids. Clients are much more likely to accept a proposal tailored just for them.
So, let's get back to the order described above. Start your proposal with a Cover Letter and a Title Page. The Cover Letter should deliver a brief personal introduction and contain your company contact information. The Title Page is just what it sounds like: the name of your specific proposal (for example, "Proposal for the Munson Kitchen Remodel" , "Proposal to Construct the New Technical Institute Science Building" or “Installation of Your New HVAC System”).
After this introduction section, add topics that describe the needs of your client. If you are presenting a proposal for a complex project, you may need to write a summary to precede the detail pages. In a proposal for a corporate client, this is normally called an Executive Summary. For a less formal but still complex proposal, it's more often called a Client Summary. In this summary and the following detail pages, you should demonstrate your understanding of the client's requirements, goals, and desires, as well as discussing any restrictions or limitations you are aware of. This section should be all about the client.
Next is your chance to advertise yourself. Follow your introduction section and the client section with pages that describe what you are offering. These pages might have general headings like Services Provided, Features, Benefits, and Services Cost Summary, as well as more specific pages that detail the products and/or services you can provide and explain the associated costs.
Your specific business will determine the specialized topics and pages you need to include in your proposal. The size and scope of the project will determine the length of the proposal and amount of detail needed.
A general contractor might need to include topics like Services Provided, Cost Summary or Estimate, Work Order, Insurance and Bonding Documents to start with. Once you get the basics the topics you include will depend on many factors such as the size and scope of the project and the needs of the client (a basic project to fix a hole in a wall or repair a sink obviously won't require a detailed business proposal - a standard Work Order and Price List will suffice).
A plumbing, HVAC or electrical service company might also want pages such as Permits and Licenses, Certifications, Specifications and Standards Compliance.
A house painting company or flooring company might include topics for their Materials, Preparation, Products and Warranty.
A disaster or accident recovery specialize contractor may use extra topics such as Recovery, Repairs, Disposal and Environmental (for hazardous waste management).
A home or office remodel job may require additional topics such as a Statement of Work, Permits and Licenses, Inspection, Certifications, Insurance, Architecture, Renovation, Installation Schedule, Blueprints, and so on.
A full scale construction project may require additional topics such as the Master Plan, Site Planning, Preparation, Location Analysis, Impact Statement, Project Management, Time Line, Community, Subcontracts, Scheduling, Materials, Construction, and so on.
If an architectural design needs to be done you might use specialty topics such as Concepts, Blueprints, Architecture, Environmental, Specifications, Alternatives, Special Needs (for designing handicap access) and Samples.
A specialty contractor such as a network cabling installer might use extra topics such as an Installation Schedule, Specifications, Equipment, Standards Compliance and Hardware and Software.
If you're asking for funding to start a contractor business, you'll want to add pages such as a Competitive Analysis, Industry Trends, Market and Audience, Marketing Plan, Insurance, Liability, Time Line, Funding Request, Services Provided, Products, Company Operations, Balance Sheet, Income Projection, Sources of Funds, Uses of Funds, Personnel, Legal Structure and any other topics required by the lender.
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Those are the basic steps for organizing and writing your proposal. But you're not quite finished yet. After you have all the information down on the pages, focus on ensuring that your proposal is visually appealing. Incorporate your company logo, use colored page borders, and/or add interesting fonts and custom bullets to introduce color and flair. One note of caution: be sure to match your business style when making these selections.
When the proposal is perfect, print it or save it as a PDF file, and then deliver it to the client. The delivery method you should use will depend on your relationship with your potential client. While it's common to email PDF files to clients, a nicely printed, personally signed, and hand-delivered proposal may make more of an impression: it demonstrates that you're willing to make an extra effort for the client.
So, to sum up, a contractor proposal can vary widely in content depending on the nature of your business and the project you propose to undertake. Each company's proposal contents will need to be a bit different. But all these proposals will have a similar format and follow a similar structure.
You can get a jump start with pre-designed templates, simple instructions and tons of suggestions for content, by using Proposal Pack. You'll also find many sample contractor business proposals that will give you great ideas and help you quickly create your own successful proposal.