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Avoid ‘Lamppost Errors’ When Submitting Bids
Print Article Contributed by BSM Staff

SAN MATEO, CA -- One of the best ways to understand why a cleaning proposal was rejected is to simply ask the customer.  But very often, if the bid was submitted as a result of a request for proposal (RFP), customers will not or cannot share this information. 

So, to figure out why their proposals were rejected, many cleaning contractors make ‘lamppost errors.’

‘Lamppost errors’ are named after a man who loses his keys in the street.  He spends hours looking for them under a lamppost.  Why? Because the light’s better there.

“We can’t take such a narrow approach when it comes to figuring out why a proposal was rejected,” says Ron Segura, a cleaning consultant, who helps cleaning contractors build their businesses. “Many proposals are rejected because of mistakes that can easily be avoided.”

For instance, Segura lists the following common mistakes:

  • Having a “proposal rush.” This is when contractors rush to prepare a proposal.  “The first thing to do after touring a facility is to learn more about the company. Having a better understanding of the customer improves your chances of getting your proposal accepted.”
  • Shallow summaries. RFPs usually allow the contractor to provide an executive summary. “Some contractors have a standard executive summary they use with all their proposals. It’s better to have a customize executive summary for each proposal.”
  • Price focused. “Believe it or not, your charges are likely to be similar to the other bids.  Don’t focus so much on price. Instead, focus on experience, strengths, training, etc.  Don’t be a low-bidder. Be the best value.”
  • Screaming grammar errors. Spelling and grammar errors in a proposal can scream out and tell the customer you are unprofessional, according to Segura. “One or two will be overlooked, but more than that and you’re out of the game.”
  • The proposal is too big or too small: Failing to provide all the information requested in the RFP often ends up with a proposal being rejected. “But lengthy proposals can be just as bad.  Proposals need to get to the point quickly. They are not meant to be a novel.”

Segura & Associates works with clients, helping them operate their facilities in a healthier, more sustainable, and efficient manner.  He can be reached via his website at www.seguraassociates.com.


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