Exhibits aren’t cheap. You know that. But how can you ensure that you get what you want–what you expect–for your money?
Here are some tips that may help you clarify and communicate your expectations for your project.
- Identify what’s important to you and your stakeholders and address it in your RFP. What’s most important to you–durability? Accessibility? Environmentally-friendly materials?
- Use visual examples to demonstrate expectations. For example – do you require a scientifically accurate model or a simplified or stylized model?
- Share your budget or budget range. Even if you plan to hire low-price, knowing your budget helps competing firms creatively problem-solve and value engineer in order to get you the most for your money.
- Require your fabricator to get your approval on reference imagery they intend to use.
- Include samples as a fabrication requirement.
Request for Proposals are your opportunity to thoroughly outline the expectations for your project. These help level the playing field for your bidders. Include details such as required qualifications, selection criteria, project background and details, and important dates. If you’re not sure where to start, download our handy RFP Guide.
Visuals are perhaps the greatest aid in communicating fabrication expectations. In addition to design drawings, these will help you clarify your requirements on style, quality, and more. Do you want something that is highly realistic or something that is stylized? How important is it?
Everyone has a budget goal, yet more often than not it remains confidential. Though there may be “cons” to revealing your budget, the “pros” far outweigh them. You begin to have the real conversations when all the facts are on the table. When left a guessing game, your bids may reveal an extreme margin for error. If your budget is $500K, and you receive bids that are between $300K and $750K, the RFP and drawing package probably left a lot of room for assumptions. If you choose low-bid in this scenario, you probably are not going to get $500K worth of exhibits. You will get less or low quality.
If you have custom environments or models in your exhibits, fabricators will always work from reference imagery. If you didn’t provide them with imagery, they will find it on their own. They key is to make sure you’re allowed the opportunity to review and approve the references before they begin building. We have heard horror stories about finished components that were completely wrong–all because the reference wasn’t mutually agreed upon in advance.
If you’re asking for something very unique or regionally-specific, make sure to require fabrication samples. This assures that your fabricator can create exactly what you want and gives an opportunity ahead of time to make adjustments. Ideally they will create two sets – one for you to keep and one for themselves to keep and refer back to throughout fabrication.
All of that said, there are several additional details to consider when selecting a fabrication firm. Before you take the plunge, consider what you’re paying for.