Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects › Forums › GENERAL DISCUSSION › PROPOSALS AND BILLING
- This topic has 1 reply, 2 voices, and was last updated 14 years, 9 months ago by Brandon Reed, CVO, ASLA / Rooftop and Urban Designer / Landscape Architect.
August 14, 2008 at 2:46 pm #177073
DOES ANYONE HAVE ANY PROPOSAL WRITING SECRETS OR BILLING TECHNIQUES THAT HAVE IMPROVED THEIR PERCENTAGE OF GETTING WORK AND GETTING PAID?August 21, 2008 at 5:42 pm #177075
SO NO ONE HAS ANY GOOD TIPS OR ADVICE FOR THIS FORUM TOPIC…….WRITING PROPOSALS AND BILLING IS SO IMPORTANT ON THE BUSINESS SIDE OF OUR PROFESSION…..WHICH I UNDERSTAND IS SOMETHING FEW OF US RARELY DEAL WITH…..BUT TRUST ME, NOW THAT I AM ON THE BUSINESS SIDE OF THINGS…..THE MORE YOU UNDERSTAND HOW YOUR COMPANY BILLS AND WRITES PROPOSALS THE BETTER YOU WILL BE AT MAKING SURE YOU ARE ALWAYS BILLABLE TO SOME PROJECT…….COMMENTS ARE WELCOME…..September 2, 2008 at 12:43 am #177074Jay EverettParticipant
Great topic Brandon. It doesn’t surprise me that there has been so little response. With only 2 years of experience I am afraid that I cannot be of much help to you, although I will say that this is one area of practice that I was woefully unprepared for out of college. I had no idea how most landscape architects actually got work, got paid, and tracked hours (or that you even needed to track hours). So it was somewhat of a rude awakening. I’ve adjusted. (one thing I do know: if you have the resources, work with a graphic artist and professional business writer)
I recently gained some knowledge of this area of practice when a key member of our marketing team was out for over a month because of a major surgery. I helped pull together several proposals (lots of writing and work in InDesign). In addition, my supervisor at the time,who was only with our firm briefly, was a planner and he had an MBA. I learned that you should pay careful attention to the RFP and structure your proposal accordingly, pull the titles for each section exactly as they are stated in the RFP. Depending on the size and experience of your firm you may have to send out ALOT of proposals before you successfully secure a signed contract for work. (I think our firm wins between 20-30 percent of the proposals we send out.) It’s even more difficult right now because everyone is looking for more work. You can use online resources such as http://www.findrfp.com/ to locate government and municipal RFP’s.
My former supervisor also explained the importance of doing a good estimate of the man hours required to do a given project. Even if you don’t do a very good job, in most cases the built-in multiplier will prevent your firm from actually losing money on a given project. As I understand it, with the multipliers that most firms use to set bill rates for the various staff positions, you usually have to use almost 3 times the budgeted hours for a project to actually lose money. Most CFO’s and Principals will get mad if you go over because you are eating into the profits. It’s my opinion that open financials and employee profit sharing programs provide adequate incentives within companies to prevent time/budget overruns, of course, I don’t own a company so that probably affects my perspective.
Anyway, I don’t think I was alone in being blindsided by the business realities of professional practice. I think that having mandatory summer internships would be a good step in the right direction to prepare new graduates for the workforce.
Before I graduated my goal was to work for 3-5 years and then go back to grad school for architecture, planning, or some sort of sustainability oriented curriculum. After observing the problems that result when a designer or other technician/production staff is eventually promoted to a top level management position, I am now much more interested in an MBA. I do not want to repeat the mistakes that I see not only in my company but in the companies my friends work for. I have learned that being a good designer does not necessarily make you a good manager of people or finances.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.