Having been in the events industry for several years now (working for an event software company), I've noticed some vital things regarding proposals that helped increase my client base and actually made me more money. Having recently planned my own wedding, I discovered that a lot of vendors leave these vital things off their proposals. So here are the five things your forgetting to add to your proposals.
I know there’s a lot here, so if you want to skim around, go for it. In the last section of this post, you'll find the quick list of the 5 items that are often forgotten about.
1. Sales Tax
While not a necesity, adding sales tax to your proposals is an easy way to bump up your revenue. I've spoken with several freelancers in my local community of Houston, TX, and many are scared of the idea of adding sales tax. Especially those that have high cost services like caterers or decor rental companies where proposal costs can get easily get into the tens of thousands very quickly.
Having dealt with hundreds of clients in the past, most are willing to accept sales tax as a cost of doing business. No matter the industry your company is in, sales tax is a cost of doing business.
“Instead of paying taxes out of my own pocket, I now add sales tax as a line item in my proposals. It has saved me major headache!”– Juliana Villamizar Papigon
I talked with Juliana Villamizar, owner of Papigon, a party supply and event coordinating business. She had recently started adding sales tax to her proposals. "My clients haven't even blinked an eye. They look at sales tax as a cost of doing business and happily pay for my services".
You go ahead and send out your basic proposal to the client. The client opens up their email, and finds three or four proposals from other companies in their inbox. They download and open each proposal, each one designed exactly the same as the other. A bland proposal isn't going to lose you any clients (hopefully), but it definitely isn't going to gain you many clients.
Spice up your proposals and start adding branded content like your company logo, company colors, background images, and more. Your brand will be easily recongnizable by the client and you'll stand out in front of your competitors!
3. Project Expenses
Often times freelancers and small businesses will go above and beyond for their clients. Trying to provide the high-touch level of service that larger companies cannot compete with. In doing so, I've seen plenty of small businesses leave out project expenses from their proposals. Again, most likely because they are scared of losing out on the clients business.
Sometimes this can get real awkward down the line. Either your going to spend your own money on these project expenses, or it's going to be a really awkward conversation with the client asking for more money.
I remember when I was starting out my own small business building custom websites for weddings. Hosting a website on the internet usually costs around $7-$30 a month. When I was starting out and getting a few clients, I would often leave costs like this out of the proposals because I was certain on making the experience as great as possible for my clients. Since then I've learn that this is a bad idea.
When word of mouth began to spread about my services, because a lot of my clients were referrals, often times my new clients would compare prices against their friends proposal. When they now see the "Hosting - $20" in their proposal, they are confused and you can often lose business.
Simply put, get all of the expenses for a project onto the proposal as soon as possible!
4. Easy Signature
This isn't necesarily a game changer for bringin in more business. But it will definitely relieve your clients.
I've heard this hundreds of times for clients. "How can I sign your proposal? I don't have a scanner". It's pretty tough to simply print out a proposal, sign it, scan it and email it back to the business. Your client needs to be pretty computer saavy.
With technology changing the landscape of how we handle business in todays day and age, hundreds of application take the burden of clients signing proposals now. I definitely recommend to small businesses, integrate some sort of online signature tool into your proposals. Not only does it take away the stress from the client, it also simplifies how you handle proposals as a small business as well.
These online signatures also handle signature date, and can even send notifications to you via email when the proposal is signed. It's a win, win for you and your client!
5. Including a contract alongside your proposal
This is again, not a game changer. But it will definitely make your life and your clients life easier. Instead of seperating the contract portion of your services, and the actual proposal - combine both of them.
You may be thinking, what's the difference between a contract and a proposal? A formal contract should detail the line items your final project price entails. Your proposal will detail all of your project line items. So simply put, the contract is the legal jargon about getting paid, when the servies will be provided etc. The proposal is simply the line items that your services include.
A small business will usually send these seperately. This often leads to confusion on part of the client. They have hundreds of emails regarding proposals, contracts and other documents in their email already. By sending them seperately usually the have to go scouring through their inbox.
Make it easy for your client and include both the contract and proposal in the document.
I hope these tips helped you out! It has definitely helped my business in the past when sending out and organizing proposals. If you have any questions or just want to chat, I'd be happy to! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
- Add Sales Tax - Don't leave it out. It's the cost of doing business with you
- Personal Branding - Add logos, background images and colors into your proposals
- Project Expenses - Similar to sales tax, don't leave this out. Add all the expenses of your business into your proposal. Don't pay for some of the services your providing.
- Online signature - Adding online signature ability to your proposals makes it easy for you and your clients