How to handle bid for prospective client?

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by OKSooner, Apr 23, 2013.

  1. OKSooner

    OKSooner LawnSite Member
    Posts: 217


    I got bit by something last time I was in this situation and I want to handle it better this time.

    This is the deal: I got a call from a lady who wants to talk about lighting. So I go out to talk to her for the first time. I set up the demo kit in her nicely done front flower bed and agreed that we'd touch base this week sometime.

    While we're talking, she mentions that she's "getting bids". Fair enough.

    However - I want to avoid what happened the last time I was submitting a bid to someone who said they were "getting bids". What happened was they proceeded to come back to me with stuff like "Another contractor said he could reuse these old lights", and "another contractor said he could do the project for $300 less than you"...

    As a contractor it seems that people can take advantage of a competitive bid process. I offer them an apple for a dollar, and then Dave offers them an orange for $.95, then Mike steps up with a peach for $75...

    I'm open to suggestion, but I'm thinking I'll tell her this with the bid:

    "I probably will not be the low bid but my intent is to offer you the best lighting system and support after the sale. If you want me to modify my bid, I'll be happy to discuss that with you after you've informed me that you've chosen me as your contractor."

    Is that too direct?

    Or suggestions about something different to say?


    Oh yeah one other thing... I'm going to bid LED only. No Halogen.

    TIA again.
  2. alldayrj

    alldayrj LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,771

    not a lighting guy but I get this all the time with people who call me for a paver driveway, balk at the price and get the second guy to give them a price for black top.

    I tell them word for word, "make sure its apples to apples, and spec out a, b, and c are included" they will call back and say x,y, and z but at least they keep it in mind.

    I would hold out on the "not the lowest but the best speech" until the call back happens. Just sell yourself and your company. this is what matters most to the best type of customers. Of course you need to be in the market, but I say its a $10k driveway that will be here for 30/50 years, does $300 matter? I want you to have the best, not the cheapest
  3. starry night

    starry night LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,766

    I would find a diplomatic way to state my position depending on the specific client but my thought is this: A "bid" implies specifications. There can be no bid without exact specifications to be bid upon.

    I rarely have faced this situation probably because of the way I market my business i.e. that I am the best at what I do. That is the usual reason that potential clients seek me out.
  4. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,102

    Phil you are right on the money with your approach. Inform them that no two designs and systems are the same and that this is largely a creative and artistic interpretation. It's only a bid f each contractor has been handed the same design and specs. Contractors bid, designers create.
  5. OKSooner

    OKSooner LawnSite Member
    Posts: 217

    Thanks for the replies.

    So... should I charge her for the design?

    Or... how do I reconcile the facts that a) there must be specs b) this is a creative process...


    If I wish to make the point to the client that this is a creative process, do I do a design for her pro bono and then let her show the design, i.e. specs, to other "contractors"? That seems contradictory to me.

    Or do I do a design, show it to her but not allow her to keep it to show other "contractors", hand her a written bid with a dollar amount and ask her to call me?

    Or do I do a walkthru of her property and just ask her where she wants a light placed, etc?
  6. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,102

    . oK sooner, you need to better identify who you are if you are going to ask for high level advice.

    I am off to Lightfair today, but may continue this with you in a private message or email. No point educating the entire web on how to do this right, I have had enough of training the lurker s.
  7. starry night

    starry night LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,766

    OK Sooner, I remember you on this forum occasionally. I think you are primarily
    an irrigation business and dabble in lighting? It is hard to give you detailed answers to all your questions. If you want to operate a landscape lighting business, it is necessary to educate yourself not only on the technical aspects and the design aspects but also the business aspects which includes how to present yourself to clients. Maybe you ought to read some books such as "The Blue Ocean Strategy" which explains how to set yourself apart from your competitors.

    James, Enjoy yourself at Lightfair. Are you also part of the Illumicare team there? That show is beyond my capabilities at this time but maybe I will be smart enough in the future to gain something from attending.
  8. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,102

    Lightfair is wild this year! Just awesome. Of course it should be called LEDFair and the story this year is LED lamps! Imagine that. :) No I am not here on behalf of Illumicare. Just me being me.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  9. bcg

    bcg LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tx
    Posts: 1,835

    That was the case last year as well.

    I thought the plasma arc stuff was wicked cool, can't wait until they can get the drivers for it in a small enough form to be used for something other than street lights.

    I'll be there next year, Vegas is an easier trip for me to make than Philly and I can extend through the weekend to bring the wife.
  10. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,645

    The truth of this business, like any business, is that folks getting competitive bids have the choice to do what they want. Will they choose me? a bid awarded solely on price, no. but...

    I know this for a fact: In my area, no one presents themselves for lighting better than me, and I mean no one. I have the knowledge and expertise to answer any question ( though I try hard not to come across as a know it all) I arrive in a professional vehicle, and I am dressed like a professional. and all the things that surround me reinforce that I am the top professional they will meet with. The bid sheet, the presentation folder, the literature and business card in the folder along with the bid. the website and postcard that brought them to me. The fixtures I bring as samples.

    The other reality is I often meet with only one spouse, and then they present my bid to the other. so often the decision maker does not meet me, or see my truck, or look at the website. And everyone that makes a lighting decision has a budget, be it a 100k home or a 10m home. and I have done lots of both and in between . and lots of both have chosen to not do it at all or they hire a loser. and that is just the way it is.

    I try to do enough marketing that I do enough bids and close enough work to stay busy, and that helps me move on about the bids that don't close. I have yet to see a home I lost the bid on look even remotely as good as it could if I did it, so it is always their loss. and when they get the postcards in the mail every couple of months with the photos of our work, and they are honest with themselves, they know.

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