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How to Create Impressive Proposals That Boost Sales

A veteran contractor dives deep into his firm’s printed (not electronic) booklets that he says outshine competitors’ one- or two-page proposals and boost his sales.

Jean Dimeo

December 20, 2022

4 Min Read
Modern house with chimney, red clay tiled roof and gable and valley type of roof construction
Oleksandr Rado/Alamy Stock Photo

Designer and contractor Michael W. Nantz hands potential clients a physical booklet of their proposed project that has “an edge over a (proposal on a) thumb drive.” He said even in this tech-driven environment, “There is value in this tangible thing you have in your hand” that you drop on the homeowner’s kitchen table.

Nantz, principal of Elite Concepts in the Dallas area, said there is another benefit: The printed booklet makes a contractor look more professional than competitors, many of whom only provide a one- to two-page estimate.

(Nantz did say his firm gives the customer a USB thumb drive—but that’s with warranty information at the completion of the project.)

Nantz recently told several hundred attendees at the Pool | Spa | Patio Expo, co-located with Deck Expo in Las Vegas that contractors can learn to create impressive, printed proposals in about 20 minutes in just a few weeks.

Proposal sections

Once Elite Concepts creates a for-fee design, its proposal is the tool to sell the homeowners on using the company to do the build. The proposal is written in plain language and not “industry vernacular… (because) the client doesn’t know what you know,” said Nantz, who also is dean of culture for Watershape University.

Nantz’s booklet proposals start and end with a photo of an impressive, finished project on the front and back covers. The inside of the proposal includes:

  • The plan.

  • The scope of the work.

  • A statement of the builder’s qualifications.

  • General information about the company.

  • Comments from previous clients.

  • Literature about products, technologies and more.

  • The contract.

Nantz said he typically puts the cost of the project on the first page. “I get the numbers out of the way right away,” he said, so the potential buyer “is not surprised at the end.”

Nantz’s proposals also note potential price increases. “Projects might get delayed,” he said. “What is that going to do to my prices?”

The booklet proposal also includes a timeline for the project, and how long the price is good for. “You can do 30, 60, 90 days—whatever you are comfortable with.”

As important, the proposal mentions what is “not included” in the project, which can include a variety of things the firm will not be responsible for.

In addition, the booklet includes single-page site views of the firm’s existing builds as well as details, selections and plan views. “This will tell them this is what we will do as part of the contract,” he said. “You’ve got to educate them about what they have coming.”

The booklet also has an example of an engineered project if working with an engineer will be part of the client’s project. “I want to educate them on what is required to have a successful outcome.”

Besides project examples, the booklet features finishes and other purchases Elite can make for the client, such as accessories.

Scope of work

Nantz said contractors tend to miss the important step of providing the potential customer with clear information about the scope of the job. “How many times have you had a client say: ‘I thought you were going to do this?’”

In this section, Nantz said he clearly defines the work. He advised session attendees to “get a bit more descriptive about what both you and your client will do. Always elaborate more on what you are doing, listing all the information. Try to take the (client’s) questions out of the equation.”

He noted that this section can be “boilerplate,” something that the builder includes in every proposal.

Statement of qualifications

In this section, Nantz said you should include, if applicable, its certifications, licenses, Better Business Bureau ratings, areas of expertise and more. “Having these types of credentials shows all the good things you are doing in the industry,” he said.

Nantz concluded the session by saying that handing out “a heavy book at the front end has a psychological impact” on potential clients that ultimately can turn into sales.

“They have a tangible thing to understand you are quite professional,” he said. “You need to educate them.… That’s not very easy to do with a one-page proposal.”

Infrastructure & Construction Editorial Director Jean Dimeo is a collaborative, results-driven newsroom leader, an award-winning editor and writer and a skilled project, program and personnel manager. She's had many roles in her journalism career: chief editor; writer; mentor; website, newsletter and magazine developer and manager; videographer; presenter; recruiter; negotiator; relationship builder; and strategic planner. Most recently, Dimeo was managing editor of Government Executive Media Group's Route Fifty and managing editor of Construction K-12 and Higher Ed Dives for Industry Dive. As editorial director for Informa Market's Infrastructure & Construction division, Dimeo provides editorial direction for Pool & Spa ProfessionalRoofing & Exteriors and WOC360.

About the Author(s)

Jean Dimeo

Editorial Director, ConstructioNext, WOC360, IRE360, Informa Markets

Jean Dimeo is an award-winning editor, writer and publication manager who has worked in construction publishing for 30 years. Dimeo was managing editor of Construction Dive, our sister publication about commercial construction, and the editor in chief of Builder, EcoHome and Building Products, all about residential building and remodeling. She also worked as an editor for a Spanish-language construction publication and as a building products expert for consumer magazines including Better Homes & Gardens SIPs.

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