Handle Mostly Bid Work? Our WeSuite Clients Share Valuable Scope of Work Advice.

A few weeks back, at our Summer Workshop, the security integrators at one of our roundtable discussions discovered they have much in common. Most of their projects are in government, education, construction, and other commercial sectors that have them bidding through contractors. Here’s what we learned…

By Tracy Larson

At WeSuite, we’re always learning from our clients. Case-in-point:

A few weeks back, at our Summer Workshop, the security integrators at one of our roundtable discussions discovered they have much in common. Most of their projects are in government, education, construction, and other commercial sectors that have them bidding through contractors. These integrators aren’t that concerned with making aesthetically appealing, carefully branded proposals – the original topic planned for our roundtable. Their focus is on defining the nuts and bolts of each project at a level of specificity that we hear less about.

Our talented moderator and WeSuite Sales Director, Samantha Perry, wisely chose to steer the conversation in a new direction, and we’re so glad she did. Here’s what we learned:

Scope of Work

Many sales reps find writing a good scope of work so stressful that they describe a project in a one-sentence description. “Install a security system with video and access control with the included parts shown here” may be fine for describing residential or small commercial projects, but it’s insufficient for bid response oppportunities on the enterprise-scale that these companies routinely quote.

To make the process less daunting for sales reps, these companies use the WeSuite platform to create Scope of Work templates that can include pre-drafted paragraphs, tables, bullet points, and drawing plans. Rather than face the challenge of writing up long paragraphs of technical and descriptive project text, sales reps can complete the templates with simple, direct language and documentation that are easy for them to provide based on the pre-configured layout for the scope of work.

The fact that edits are made from within the WeSuite platform, instead of in a separate Word doc that the user must save and import, encourages sales reps to use the WeSuite editor and features to their fullest extent. It also preserves formatting and boilerplate statements that must always be included.

Terms and Conditions

For the companies at our roundtable, we learned that they experience a lot of drama surrounding the approval of T&Cs!

To minimize conflict with customers, our roundtable participants say they start by making sure that their legal teams review their company’s T&Cs regularly. These days, there are a lot of updates happening. As we discussed in a previous blog on supply chain challenges, integrators are adding verbiage specifying that pricing is good for a limited time – only 30 days – or, in some cases, as short as one week. Certain equipment may not be available for 90 days. The installation will occur in “X” timeframe. (Not next week, as some customers expect!)

WeSuite software ensures that only the current version of company T&Cs is sent with every proposal or contract that goes out the door. Still, there may be variations. WeSuite users can have the software automate customizations to the document based on, for instance, additions to the Bill of Materials. When certain parts are added, relevant verbiage gets inserted automatically. Another example might be specific to certain recurring services, or job types.

Unfortunately, many of these clients’ customers push back on signing T&Cs. It’s the nature of the industries these integrators serve. “Our customers have their own T&Cs and want those to govern the project instead. Property managers are the worst offenders,” they told us. “They’ll sign the first page of the contract and ignore the rest.” For WeSuite clients who use DocuSign or eOriginal, the customer can’t complete the physical submission process unless everything gets signed. If a customer wants revisions made to the T&Cs or to provide their own, the integrator quickly becomes aware of the situation and must issue a revision to close the deal. 

Not everyone uses electronic signatures. When an integrator relies on a manual signature process, its sales teams must inspect returned contracts carefully to make sure that every document is signed, including T&Cs. For most projects, contracts get filed away and never looked at, but when problems arise, having everything in writing eliminates “he said/she said” scenarios. If you get to that point, it’s bad news. Even if you win the disagreement, you ultimately lose by harming your relationship with the customer.

Clarifications and Exclusions

Some details are too granular for the scope of work and don’t belong in the T&Cs. They go under Clarifications and Exclusions. Our roundtable integrators had plenty of examples to share. 

  • Our company is COVID compliant.
  • We will work on Christmas.
  • We will not provide CAD drawings.
  • Installation of conduit is not included.
  • Fire system inspections are the responsibility of the customer and must occur in compliance with all applicable fire codes. 
  • Electrical connections and outlets are the responsibility of the customer.

WeSuite allows clients to create a Clarifications and Exclusions template for inclusion in proposals. A list of standard and more unusual items appears as a pre-defined checklist, each set to a default “on” or “off” position. Based on the specific project, the sales representative can change their status. It’s much easier than having to wrack their brains with each proposal, trying to remember what to mention and this method ensures that standard language is used for all sales.

If there’s anything that you feel needs clarification, by all means, put it in this section! Otherwise, meeting customers’ misguided expectations can wind up costing you big bucks.

Take Aways…

Creating winning proposals involves differing tactics, depending on an integrator’s business model and who they sell to. As we learned at the WeSuite Summer Workshop, many commercial integrators value the processes highlighted above as some of the most important steps they can take.

Their business may not resemble your business, but there are lessons to be learned for all of us. Communicate clearly during the sales process, in your documents and contracts. Cover your bases to level set expectations. And make sure everything gets signed!

Have you been burned by not following some of the above advice? We’re all friends here. Share your story so it won’t happen to others!

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