Writing briefs to suppliers is part of everyday business for many soloists. Here’s how to do it with class.
Whether you’re a buyer or seller, there are some unwritten rules to follow with regards to writing briefs. The first one is that having one is not optional – even though many business owners skip this step.
A quality brief is a lifeline for both parties, aids expectation management and results in better outcomes all round. If you don’t currently write them it’s time to start.
What do I include in my brief?
Be as specific as possible about what you’re looking for. When I write briefs I tend to highlight the areas where new ideas are welcome and also note anything that’s non-negotiable.
Include a budget estimate and timeframe
This can be tricky: as the supplier you want to charge as much as possible for the job, but as the buyer you want to pay as little as possible. The following tips on including budgets may be helpful.
- Total spend: If the project has a few different components and involves more than one supplier, you may feel comfortable mentioning the entire budget.
- Price ranges: I find these quite helpful. The buyer always has a range in mind and this can be a polite way of communicating this.
- Flat rate: State what you think the project is worth and you may be surprised with the outcome.
The other important consideration when writing briefs is timing. If your project has a very tight turnaround, be upfront about it. Some suppliers will be fully booked and unable to meet your schedule; don’t waste their time by springing this information on them at the last minute.
"To be fair on all parties, if you’re shopping around, getting more than three quotes is excessive. Any more than that and the briefing and quoting process will end up being too time consuming to manage."
Clarify how many quotes you’re seeking
To be fair on all parties, if you’re shopping around, getting more than three quotes is excessive. Any more than that and the briefing and quoting process will end up being too time consuming to manage.
Furthermore, some suppliers will prefer not to waste their time quoting on a job where they’re one of ten businesses who’ve been asked to respond.
Want more articles like this? Check out the processes section.
Check the details
I recently received a brief that had a very tight turnaround. The person putting it together hadn’t bothered to consult the calendar, and also included the name of another supplier – interesting information for me, but not what they’d intended.
Your attention to detail is important and your reputation in the market both as buyer and seller will be remembered by it.
Use writing briefs as an exercise in identifying what you want
If nothing else, writing thorough briefs is a good way to narrow down your shopping list.
Being quite specific in what you’re asking for means that those who don’t take the time to read the brief will be unable to respond appropriately, allowing you to effectively weed out people and companies you don’t want to work with.
The more time and thought put into your briefs, the better the outcome will be. Has that been your experience too? Please share your thoughts below.