Whether looking for a landscaping service or hiring a contractor to replace the roof on the clubhouse, the HOA is often required to put out a request for proposal or RFP. This is a formal document that outlines everything the HOA wants or needs in regard to the project, and what its expectations are for a vendor. Vendors review all of this information and create a bid that details how they will meet these needs and at what cost.
Why are RFPs important?
RFPs help the HOA compare vendors on a more level playing field. There is specific information that each vendor should provide with their bid so that the association can evaluate their options. In addition, it gives each vendor an equal opportunity to win the project rather than the HOA just randomly picking a company to work with or basing their decision on the recommendation of one person.
Creating an RFP
The first part of the document is a general summary that outlines the scope of the project. What type of service is the HOA looking for? What does it want to accomplish? Are there certain materials that need to be used or a specific deadline by which the project must be completed? This allows vendors to quickly see if they may be a good fit before they dive into the details and put together a bid. If they see right away that the HOA is too far away or the project is out of their area of expertise, then they can move on.
The second part of the RFP digs into the nitty-gritty. The HOA will want to be as detailed as possible about exactly what they are looking for. If you’re vetting landscapers, how often is the grass expected to be mowed? What is the area of the property? Is mulching or tree trimming needed? Are there other landscaping features such as flowerbeds or fountains that need attention?
For one-time projects such as replacing a roof, repairing a fence, or installing a new HVAC unit, there are key details that should be included as well. What exactly does the HOA need from the vendor? Find out how the vendor plans on completing the project, what materials they will use, what temporary disruptions it could cause to homeowners, and what their qualifications for the job are (including licenses, certifications, etc.).
Choosing a Vendor
When comparing RFPs, the HOA should also do some of its own research. Don’t just rely on what the bid says. Find out how the company is rated by the Better Business Bureau, read reviews, and call references. You may also want to see if your property manager has any insight, as they are often familiar with the reputations of local vendors.
Also, remember to look at everything each vendor has to offer, not just price. The cheapest bid is not always the best (and the same goes for the most expensive). Find a vendor that fits the needs and budget of the HOA and can do a quality job. The more questions the HOA can ask upfront, the better idea they will have of what they are getting in a vendor.
Partnering with a property manager can assist the board in writing a more thorough and effective RFP to ensure that bids align with what the association actually needs. If your HOA is vetting vendors for an annual service contract or a one-time project, contact Kuester to find out how we can help.