When running your homeowners association, you’ll often have large projects that become complicated over time. To rein in the scope and keep everyone on the same page, you can create a Request for Proposal that details the reason for and desired outcome of the project. This way your association manager or HOA board knows exactly what you need out of the project, and can properly help you vet vendors, saving you time and money.
What Is a Request for Proposal (RFP)?
Simply put, an RFP is a document that thoroughly outlines the project at hand, and what is needed out of contractors and vendors to complete it. The document is submitted to vendors you’re interested in working with, and the vendors return with a proposal for how they would complete the job. Then, your association can review the various proposals to choose the right vendors for your community and the project.
How Do We Create an RFP?
The request for proposal should be drafted by the person or group of people specifically tasked with overseeing the project, whether a special committee, the HOA board, or your community manager. The most important part of the RFP is outlining exactly what the association wants out of the project. This may require consulting professionals about the exact nature of certain repairs or improvements, and the typical outcome of such undertakings.
Your RFP should include these parts as well:
- Project Title and Contact Information for Your Association. The title should include the name of the project (i.e. “Pool House Remodel”), your association’s name, and the words “Request for Proposal.”
- Project Statement & Desired Goals. Next, give a short introduction of the project and the expected outcome once completed.
- Detailed Scope & Description. Here, you should list all specifics of the project and exactly what is expected of contractors, such as adding outdoor showers for residents or updating interior restrooms or locker areas, or installing new amenities such as a snack bar.
- Your Budget. This is important to include as it keeps you from receiving proposals from vendors you can’t afford, saving you the time of going through unnecessary paperwork. You don’t have to have a hard number if you’ve been given some flexibility, but you should do research ahead of time to determine approximate costs for the types of repairs or improvements you’re requesting. If you present a budget too low for the scope of the project, you’ll end up with proposals from less qualified contractors or vendors who use lower quality materials.
- Evaluation Criteria. List any and all criteria you will be grading proposals on. This can be anything from the proposed timeline, to desired credentials or certifications, to references and reviews. Be as clear and transparent as possible about what you’re looking for in a vendor so you don’t waste your (or their) time.
- Desired Timeline. This section should include the date proposals are due, when vendors will be notified if they were chosen, the negotiation period for the selected proposal, the desired start and completion dates, and any major milestone dates.
- Directions to Project Site. This only needs to be included if the vendors will need to access the site prior to submitting their proposals in order to evaluate the existing state and estimate scope.
- Submission Format. Be clear on how you expect proposals to be formatted and the order in which information needs to be included, such as background and experience, services offered, estimated pricing, references, and proof of certifications and insurance. You’ll also include directions here for submitting proposals.
Sending Out Your RFP
Once you’ve completed your RFP and are ready to send it out, you should research vendors and contractors to determine which ones are a good fit for your association and project. You’ll want to be selective enough that you’re not bombarded with proposals from tons of vendors you’re not interested in working with. At the same time, don’t be too overly selective—having too few proposals returned to you may result in not finding a good fit and either delaying the project with another round of RFPs or settling for an undesired contractor.
Once you’ve narrowed down your pool of vendors, you should send them the request for proposal along with a personal email. Maintain your professionalism, but make sure the email speaks to that vendor as an individual and doesn’t sound like a stock request. You want the vendor to feel as though they’ve been intentionally selected for this RFP (because they have!) and their proposal will be taken seriously.
Have more questions about vendor proposals or need help crafting your RFP? Our association managers have plenty of experience and can help you get the most out of your vendor proposals!