Once the inspector establishes a fee for his/her services, he or she needs to present it to their client for approval and acceptance. Unlike a residential inspection, where the inspector typically discusses the fee and schedules the inspection during the initial conversation, in most cases, the fee for a commercial property inspection should be formally proposed during a follow-up call, as a written proposal, or both.
The proposal process is important because the commercial inspector may be dealing with an executive or officer of a company, or with an agent who is part of a large firm. These types of clients are accustomed to a formal process and fielding service proposals and bids.
What Is a Written Proposal?
The written proposal is separate from the inspection agreement. The goal of the written proposal is to establish expectations for the inspection and showcase the inspection company’s value, while the goal of the inspection agreement is protection from liability. Basically, a written proposal is a value proposition.
NOTE: Consider the basic definition of value, which, in this situation, is a fair exchange of services for money. Clients want the greatest value of services for their dollar. Keep this in mind. It is what you need to convey in your written proposal.
The challenge of establishing a fee and creating a proposal is landing the job, plus making a profit. There are untrained inspectors and property management companies dabbling in the CRE market, and their prices may be the ones you’ll be competing against.
On other occasions, the client may be keener to call upon their tradesman (electrician, plumber, HVAC consultant, etc.) to perform an informal walk-through with them. If you were formerly a specialized tradesman, then you may be familiar with this.
If you choose to be aggressive in the commercial property inspection market, your company should have policies and procedures in place for quoting jobs to ensure professionalism, including conveying the reasons that the prospective client should hire you. This is why many projects should not be immediately quoted over the phone but followed up with a formal, written proposal.
Based on the inspector’s ingenuity, a written proposal is a way to differentiate oneself and competitively bid projects, especially if the particular client is accustomed to a proposal-driven selection process.