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Old April 23rd, 2009, 11:30 AM   #1
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Do you submit competive bids?

It seems lately I've had a rash of companies with requests like this: "We would like you to submit a bid for X project, we are accepting bids from 4 different companies."

When I get a request like that, I always ask if they have set a budget for the project (no sense preparing a bid for $10k when their budget is only $2k.) Often I get the response "we'll set the budget after we have received the bids."

To me that says they have no clue what the project should cost, so they're expecting to "average it out" from the bids.

I really hate this. I'll spend an hour or two in meetings, an couple hours preparing the bid, only to find out we get bupkis. We're not the cheapest in the area, so I'm sure we usually get passed over for a lower bid.

Would it be appropriate to say "we don't submit competitive bids"? Or at least "we don't bid unless you've set a budget"?
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Old April 23rd, 2009, 12:28 PM   #2
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I've done that for corporate video projects and have won & lost. More likely than not they're looking for the lowest bid and basing their budget on that. I've heard of production companies throwing out a low undercutting number to get the business and then building the bill up as they go through the production to "combat" this strategy.

I recently had a company I did work for call me again for another project and they wanted a bid. The project was so similar to the one I did for them 2 years back I quoted the same price and I got the feeling they were shell shocked by the large bid I submitted. They told me they were going with someone else. It kinda threw me off a little since I consider myself the "do it on the cheap guy". Oh well, I have imagined the low bid to be some freshman college film student showing up to their shoot with a $300 miniDV cam and a Wal-Mart tripod.
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Old April 23rd, 2009, 10:37 PM   #3
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I've not, but having spent a decade is computer sales to major corporations, we always responded to RFPs because there was always a chance, albeit slim, that we might win. I never did, but it did happen.

If I ever got one, I'd respond.
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Old April 24th, 2009, 08:25 AM   #4
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Chris, I'm seeing the same thing.

Basically if they can't answer my questions I don't pursue it.
If they don't know what they're looking for there's no way you can pitch to them.
I can show them my demo real and say something like that will cost $X and leave it at that.

My guess is they're going to go with the lowest bid (or lowest bid that doesn't look like a home movie) since they can't express their needs.

I often find such RFPs ask strange questions or make strange statements:
"include green screen"
and I look at the project and
I see nothing that would warrant a green screen
I can't price it unless I know they can use our already set up screen in our studio or
go on location with extra lights and have to light a screen screen in some 4'x6' closet sized office.
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Old April 24th, 2009, 01:36 PM   #5
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This isn't a direct answer but it's relevant.

A few years ago I was involved in setting up a selection process to appoint a preferred supplier for a public organisation.

About ten companies submitted detailed and substantial proposals, we interviewed them and made the selection.

The selection process had to be very open ie if it was challenged subsequently it was necessary to be able to justify why the selection was made.

Which sounds great. It sounds as though this makes the process fair and open. What it doesn't allow for is what on one hand might be termed judgement or what on the other hand might be termed discrimination or favouritism.

It was therefore impossible not to appoint the company offering the lowest hourly rate, all other things being equal.

It was really frustrating because I knew that the company that was selected was not as good as some of the other candidates and sure enough their bills actually came in higher, even though their hourly rate was lower, and their work was not as good as some of the other companies who had tendered.

It's not for me to say but I will leave you to draw your own conclusions if you feel that you are being invited to part in a similar exercise.
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Old April 24th, 2009, 02:08 PM   #6
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The things you mention Richard are quite significant.

For me, RFP is a two way street. If a company isn't asking the right question I point out the pitfalls and options. My job is to offer solutions rather than simply "sell a service."

If they can't grasp what I'm doing and/or why I'm pointing out what I'm pointing out, then I KNOW there's no point to pursuing the RFP as it's inevitable they will make a bad decision.
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Old April 25th, 2009, 08:20 AM   #7
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Fake Bid Requests

There is also another possibility. The company asking for bids is really trying to figure out how to price a bid for a client and using you to do their dirty work. There are several different tip offs that this happening;

1. You start asking production questions of the company/person asking for the bid but they can't/won't give you good answers or have vague info about the project.
2. Their email address includes no contact info (like professionals use) or is a generic email (like gmail).
3. They ask for a line by line detail of the costs for the bid.
4. They ask for a specific equipment lists you will provide including camera model, mics, etc.

If I see any of these things happening they move to the trash pile because I'm wasting my time and just being used.
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Old April 25th, 2009, 07:34 PM   #8
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Rick's item #1 is dead on. Can't say that I'd universally agree on the rest. Not necessarily wrong, but I wouldn't consign the RFP to the bin just because of one of those. Different strokes.

One thing that was alluded to by another poster that I would like to clarify is that there will be a contact phone number in any legitimate RFP where you can ask for clarifications. Always call and ask questions. You'll learn a lot about how real the deal is from that.
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Old April 26th, 2009, 04:35 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edward Phillips View Post
I recently had a company I did work for call me again for another project and they wanted a bid. The project was so similar to the one I did for them 2 years back I quoted the same price and I got the feeling they were shell shocked by the large bid I submitted. They told me they were going with someone else. It kinda threw me off a little since I consider myself the "do it on the cheap guy". Oh well, I have imagined the low bid to be some freshman college film student showing up to their shoot with a $300 miniDV cam and a Wal-Mart tripod.
I remember seeing an add online by a company saying that they want an event taped by preferably 2 cameras and make a nice edited piece of the event. I called a friend up who has professional cameras available and told him it sound like a perfect gig for both of us because the company is extremely well known. Knowing that they’ll be a lot of people competing I gave a price that I thought was very good and about a couple of days later they sent out a mass email saying they can only offer a little under $200 because of their very tight budget.

I couldn’t believe a company that prestigious would offer so little and I know they can do much better than that. I really hope people realize that most of the time, the work that they got could have looked much better if they offered a bit more.
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Old April 26th, 2009, 10:01 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paulo Teixeira View Post
I couldn’t believe a company that prestigious would offer so little and I know they can do much better than that.
Even large, prestigious companies have small divisions and departments with budgets. They probably spent the rest of the budget on other stuff and were only left with $200 to get the event recorded on video.

I've done a few projects for Microsoft over the years, and they were very cost conscious. Just because Bill Gates is one of the richest men in the world doesn't mean the marketing division of the Fargo office has money to burn.
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Old April 27th, 2009, 01:04 PM   #11
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I think the overarching theme here is price quotes for your budget.

If the company's budget matches your quality and service level, there is a deal.

I am finished trying to find the level that an entity will bite at. This will get you to work for nothing or look like a fool when a decent budget comes along and you are thinking it is a lot lower.

Set your rates and send the quote over. Your time and energy are better spent finding more quotes and polishing your demo material rather figuring out unknowns.
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Old May 16th, 2009, 05:28 PM   #12
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I find that the BID jobs are usually a total waste of time... for instance, the city i live in was taking bids for a video project a few years back, they had ridiculous requirements for how the proposal was to be submitted ie. in triplicate, in a BLUE binder, separators between the sections etc etc.

anyway, after i waste the better part of two days putting this crap together... they end up giving the project to the city managers son... and never even gave the bidders who did not win a letter letting them know!
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Old May 16th, 2009, 10:16 PM   #13
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I've gotten a few gigs where I submit a bid, though not a lot. I usually include a range of prices, and list some of the determining factors. I've had a couple companies call me back to nail the price down, and have had that work out.

I spent years as an interior designer, and one of the things I learned is that companies sometimes want the prestige of paying a higher price. There were things I could sell easier when they were expensive rather than inexpensive, so it's not as simple as the lowest quote always.

Mostly, I just assume that I get passed over because there is so much competition.

As for contact information, I submitted a bid for a project on Craig's List one time and did my basic range of price response. All I knew about the job and the client was that it was a seminar on financial planning - that was it. The client got back to me with some questions, but still did not identify who they were. In the end, i got the job and it turned out that it was for a major Wall Street guru. It was a good gig, paid well and was incredibly interesting. So, I feel okay about submitting bids where I do not know who I am submitting to. I am sure that some of them are for other production companies looking for market information. I just don't sweat it.
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