All Plans and Specifications Will Be For The Exclusive Use Of …
Do you give your plans and specifications away to prospects for free, or do you only leave plans and specifications with paying customers?
Remember, people who want stuff for free hang around with other people who want stuff for free. How you decide to answer this question will have a long term effect on your business and future referrals.
If you choose to not leave your proposal with prospects unless they commit to your company, this policy should be discussed with your prospects during the initial sales call. By doing so it will not become a surprise to them when you come back to present your proposal.
You are presenting, not emailing proposals, right?
Here is some sample language you can consider using inside the remodeling proposals you create for prospects. This information is for your reference only. Be sure you have it reviewed by your own legal council before using it.
This proposal and any related plans and specifications shall be for the exclusive use of; and will remain the property of “Construction Company” until a Construction Contract agreement for the proposed work is reached between both parties. The acceptance of this agreement will require the owners’ signature(s) and payment in full of the specified deposit. If this proposal is not accepted at the time of presentation, owner(s) are welcome to view all plans and specifications at the contractor’s office at a mutually agreeable time.
This language is best used at the beginning of your proposal
Include your policy in beginning of your proposal so you can remind your prospect about your policy very early during the proposal presentation meeting. If they have a problem with your policy you can discuss their concerns and both of you can decide whether it makes sense to continue and present/discuss the rest of the proposal.
By not leaving your proposal behind you are protecting your business as well as your prospect
The information you include in your proposal comes from your many years of experience and education. For this you deserve to be compensated. Also, because you and your team have expereince working together, I would suggest your proposal probably contains a level of detail adequate for you and your team to build from. But, your proposal may not have adequate detail for others to build from. If you allow other contractors to work from your proposal they and the home owner may be making assumptions about what is or should be included to do the job correctly and to building code or safety requirements. By allowing such things to happen you may be putting other contractors, the home owners and or the success of the project at risk.
How much risk are you willing to accept to sell a deal?
I also suggest you consider the possible liability you take on by creating specifications and or project plans and leaving them with a prospect that does not do business with you. By doing so you may have put yourself into a position where the prospect or another contractor actually works from them. If they have challenges when building the project and decide those challenges were caused by your plans and or specs, they may have legal rights to sue you. Regardless of whether you feel you are innocent or guilty, you will need to cover your own legal expenses if you get to court and most likely will not be able to re-coup your legal costs even if you are found innocent. If you are found guilty you may even be required to pay the legal expenses incurred by the person suing you.
If you decide to take this risk, I highly recommend you obtain Errors and Omissions Insurance Coverage or Professional Design Liability Coverage.
Some big picture thoughts for remodelers to chew on before they decide:
- I suggest you are in the business of selling remodeling, not designs. Can you earn a living selling designs?
- Avoid being used as an unpaid consultant. How does that feel when it happens?
- Don’t let your proposals, specifications and plans facilitate the ability for some guy named “Bubba” to get the job rather than you.
- Not every lead you get should or will be YOUR customer.
- If you work for the wrong customers, they will be referring you to people just like them!