As a client of graphic design services, you may solicit design proposals or estimates in many ways. The contact may be as simple as a phone call, a faxed scope of work document, or a more elaborate document such as a Request for Proposal (RFP) or Request for Information (RFI). RFPs and RFIs are the gateways to the graphic design business.
An RFI is typically used to create a short list of suppliers of graphic design services that will participate in the development of a proposal. In the RFI you may request a wide range of information about the graphic design firms you want to target:
- Company structure and ownership
- Years of operation
- Number of employees and experience level of key managers/consultants
- Design disciplines listed in order of experience
- List of projects completed in the past year
- Client list and key references
- Typical hourly fees for each design discipline
- Typical project process
- Relevant case studies with corresponding portfolio
- Confirmation that the service provider does not have any conflicts of interest.
Please note the following:
- The RFI should clearly identify the project to preserve your confidentiality.
- Distribution of the RFI should only be done on the basis that there is an actual project.
- The selection process should be specified.
- An RFI, as opposed to an RFP, may signal that you are not willing to make a big investment in getting to know individual design firms.
- RFIs are better received if they list the other design firms that have been asked to respond or how the RFI is being distributed.
- Provide information about your corporate culture.
RFPs tend to be more detailed and specific to your design needs than RFIs. Depending on the sensitivity of the material in the RFP, you may request that the design firms sign a non-disclosure document. It is appreciated if this document does not include a noncompete clause, which would prevent design firms from working with your competitors.
The RFP process is exciting but time-consuming for design firms. Most RFPs cover the following:
- Project background
- Scope of work to be done
- Time requirements; How you wish the proposal to be written
- Relevant experience and references
- Who the competitors are
- The selection process.
Try to provide a meeting to review the RFP with target design firms and answer questions that may help the design service provider position his or her firm against the competition. This meeting is an opportunity for both parties to put a face to the written document. Ask the design firm to bring the team to the meeting so that they too become familiar with you and your team.