I am simply amazed at the problems some of my colleagues are experiencing regarding writing job proposals for customers. So often I hear that there has been some sort of disagreement between client and service provider, something that can and should be avoided before a project is started. Here are four tips to help you write an effective job proposal letter.
Assume Nothing My junior high English teacher gave his students the real meaning of assume: if you assume something it makes an ass out of you and me: ass-u-me. Leave nothing to chance. When you speak with a client do not assume they understand much of what you have to offer. For instance, I sell website packages. I have learned to spell out everything that I will offer to my customers for a very specific price. If there are any “gray areas” I protect myself by telling customers that certain other expenses will be billed separately. Do not box yourself into a corner and do not pull surprises on your customers as they may think you are trying to cheat them. Keep the lines of communication wide open.
Get It In Writing Save all of your email correspondence with clients including emails you send and emails you receive. Sometimes what is not said verbally is articulated in writing. For example, I write much better than I speak, therefore I am more likely to put my ideas forth via “ink” or “type” than I am to verbalize them. In either case follow up your contact by placing everything in writing. You will need that paper trail in case something goes wrong e.g., a refusal to pay for services rendered.
Make Changes, If Necessary Sometimes projects change as the work goes forward. If it is a minor change, such as cropping a few extra photographs, you can probably “eat” the additional labor. However, if your project increases in size, let’s say your clients now want a 12 page website instead of an 8 page site, they need to know that you need to be compensated for the extra work. Specify in your proposal letter that any changes to the project will incur additional charges; remind them of this “clause” should any major change be proposed. Your customer may decide not to go with the larger project after counting the additional costs.
Write a Contract I have done fairly well without contracts. Many of my customers know me quite well, therefore the proposal letter serves as a contract of sorts. I also require my customers to pay me 50% as an advancement; if they walk away from the contract upon completion of my work their website does not get uploaded to the internet. At the very least I have partial compensation for my hard work. Your experience or risk factors may be much different than mine; certainly use contracts if your customers are not well known to you or you do not have a previous business relationship.
In summation, every satisfied customer is a potential referral for new business. Keep those communication lines open and understood and you will garner additional projects because of your sound business practices.
(c)2005; Matthew C Keegan, LLC