Engaging and Creative Format Helps
Contractor Win Major Ballpark Award
Many of the major contracts in the electric
business are awarded based on RFPs
The timing couldn't have been better. Looming on the horizon were extraordinary opportunities: two major projects on the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus. The first project involved a renovation of Kolthoff Hall, primarily centering on the design of new teaching laboratories. The second project entailed the design of a new classroom building for the Carlson School of Management.
RSP Architects was one of three firms to make the short list for both projects. With combined total construction costs estimated to be $47 million, the projects would generate substantial revenues for RSP. In preparing for presentations to a state designer selection board, there was one overriding objective: Develop and effectively communicate key messages that would differentiate RSP Architects from its competitors - in an allotted time of 15 minutes.
STRATEGIES AND TACTICS
The creative concept Moser, and her business partner, Susan Stoen suggested, was to leverage what the selection committee already knew: baseball and team work.
Moser worked with Larry Heinsch to develop a light-hearted and engaging opener that relayed his earlier experiences playing T-ball and learning the value of a team. “They liked the T-ball story and I saw a lot of smiles at the table. It really got their attention,” shared Larry Heinsch. Building on the theme of identifying each player’s value, Greg Heinsch then handed out a one-of-a-kind deck of Gephart Electric “trading cards.” Each card was designed with the traditional baseball format, but in place of baseball players, there were Gephart Electric team members. And in place of baseball jerseys and bats there were drawing boards and safety equipment. The back of each card listed the team member’s stats and the experience they would bring to the stadium project.
“The cards were a great ice breaker and a big hit. Many of the people on the selection committee laid out the cards or referred to them during the discussion,” recalled Larry Heinsch. The deck covered the 17 “players” Gephart was committing to the project, including eight All Star Players, who had participated in the Xcel Energy Center contract a few years earlier.
“Larry and his team were willing to get out of the safe zone with this presentation and take a chance and move into the impact zone, commented Moser. “It’s a philosophy we preach regularly to business executives. If you don’t make that leap you will forever languish in the zone of boring, forgettable presentations. And when the payback is in the millions, it’s a zone most companies can’t afford to be in.“ “When we walked out of the room,” recalled Larry Heinsch, “they said to us, ‘Wow that was great. You covered everything we needed and you gave a superb presentation.’ The biggest difference for us was in developing the personal connection. In the past our presentations always referred back to our written response. This really showed us how important the preparation is and how critical it is that we create a connection with the committee.”
Gephart was awarded a contract worth more than $25 million.