How to Use Survey Monkey Vs Google Forms for Business Proposals- Small Business Tips
As a bootstrapping entrepreneur, when should you level up and pay for your tools -Survey Monkey and Google Forms- when creating automation in your business?
If you’re new to the business space, you might be intimated to get a ton of info from your new lead, but don’t let that stop you. Lisa helps you allay your time fears and weighing the options between Survey Monkey & Google Forms to close the gap between getting client information requirements and sending a proposal.
As a bootstrapping entrepreneur, when should you level up and pay for your tools when creating automation in your business?
The other day, I received a question from an engineering firm that is pretty new to the business space.
They want to standardize the intake process to gather as much info as possible at the project start. The team wonders which survey tool they should use (like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms) for this process.
If you’re wondering the same thing, stick around because I’m going to answer that right now.
Hi. I’m Lisa Stewart, founder of Build-Your-Own Small Business. I’m a brand strategist, maker, and business coach and I help STEAM entrepreneurs —like you —build products that sell and change the world from their workbench.
This engineering firm does many fixes/builds for companies in their area and is getting many more RFQs as a result.
While they’ve responded with some solid proposals, they’ve noticed there is an information gap. The info-gap happens between what the client company gives them and what they find out along the project’s course.
This frequently causes rework to happen during project cases. So naturally, they want to eliminate this issue.
They also want to standardize the intake process to gather as much info as possible at project start. What’s happening is that they’re the missing needed information that wasn’t included in the schematics within the bid.
Their real challenge is their reluctance to hand out forms for clients to fill out and they don’t want to come off as less-than-capable when asking for tons of extra information. It’s the lack of constructive and useful questions in the beginning which is causing the rework to happen.”
The second challenge is that they’re getting project requests that they haven’t done in the past. This leaves them with a lot of uncertainty because they’re newer to the space.
Have you ever been there?
Now they have 2 matters they want to address:
They want to close this information gap as much as possible to bid with more efficiency and more certainty.
So, how do you do that?
Before we get into which tool to use, let me address mindset.
I get it. You don’t want to burden your client with questions. We feel like an imposition.
Don’t. That’s your job.
Have you ever visited the ER, Gods forbid. Before the doctors can pull the nail out of your foot or reset your wrist, they want to know your blood type, allergies, and your other medical history. You have to fill out a few forms before you get seen.
Your business is no different.
Don’t let the fear of time prevent you from getting the information you need to adequately quote the job.
When I begin working with STEAM clients on their branding projects and websites, the initial intake includes a form we complete together that usually takes an hour. This is to help me understand their business needs. My clients appreciate my thoroughness because I’m also thinking long-term strategy for their site and their services.
Ultimately, you want repeat business with these clients. And when you explain why these questions are essential for short term projects and Potential future projects, they’ll appreciate that you’re thinking about them.
Let’s say you’re asked to lay a new driveway. You go out to review the landscape. You notice a bare backyard and you ask what future plans they have. Will they have kids or remain DINKS? That will dictate whether they plan to have a fire pit or a sandpit added in a year or so. When you’re the person to suggest this to them, you get them thinking about it. Dreaming about it. And soon enough, they call you back to measure for their new firepit.
That’s time well spent.
Let me address
RESPONDING TO RFP
As far as any gaps are concerned, consider gathering the projects that you’ve done.
Group like with like.
Review the project materials, time, and labor. If you do foundation work, you’ll know how much cement you’ll need for a 100sqft pad vs a retainer wall.
With common projects like this, you’ll know if their budget meets your price.
If you’re working on a new project, I’d consider overestimating (and check competitor pricing) because you won’t know what snafus you’ll run into during the course.
And then refund the difference if you realized the margin was grossly over calculated.
Let them know that they might have to be strict with their budget (no scope creep) and to consider having a little extra $$ set aside for unactualized costs.
Customers may not be too happy about it but it will help set customer expectations. I’ve seen budgets explode because they didn’t anticipate unhappy surprises. Regardless of the outcome, the more you can prepare the client, the happier they’ll be.
Once in a while, you might have to consider eating costs or splitting the difference with them, but you’ll have saved your partnership from the start.
I’ve got 3 suggestions:
1. Gather all the questions you need to quote the job. Every little one.
* Put them in chronological order of need.
* Decide whether you can cut or divide the questions into phases. Will they provide you with enough information to include materials, labor, and equipment? If not, add more questions.
2. Sit down and role-play with your team members to determine how long the interview process will take.
* Will the interview be an online form, a phone call, or in-person?
3. How many of these questions can the customer complete before you meet?
* How long will it take them?
* Does the form take them 20 minutes?
* If so, can you break it up into 5-minute segments or high-level questions with a comprehensive follow-up?
Think about the last time you visited a new doctor? How did you enjoy the onboarding process? Did one aspect take too long or was it too short? What part of the process felt sketchy?
What left you feeling heard and hopeful?
In this case, onboarding is essentially converting a lead into a client. Onboading happens thru a sequence of events through RFQs/RFPs, Proposals, and Intake
What’s the difference between an RFQ & RFP
RFPs is a term for Request for proposal or RFQ Request for Quote
If you want a website built, you’d ask me for a proposal-an RFP. You know you need one but you’re not sure how to design and develop it.
If you’re a cement contractor, potential customers (leads) ask how much paving their driveway might cost. Typically, they’ll be asking for a quote -an RFQ. Not just from you, but from many vendors in your space. The key here is to not act like every vendor. The key is to elevate yourself from being a commodity to a soght after brand.
If you want more information on that, check out this video.
Both are examples of service-based businesses that do custom work.
These requests might come thru your website or through a platform like Angie’s List.
Once you receive an RFP, the next step is to get requisite information about that project. It might include sending a form to your lead or talking with them directly.
This is where you want to be diligent about acquiring the absolute minimum information about the cost, time, and labor a project requires to craft an informed and comprehensive proposal.
Once you have that info, you’ll send a proposal to the prospect. Depending on your market, your proposals will look different and they’ll include terms, and other assorted details.
Once your client agrees to the project scope and terms, you get the deposit and onboarding begins. I’m not going to get too deep into onboarding but want to quickly highlight it before we get into the actual project questionnaire.
Onboarding processes don’t have to be dull and dry.
Onboarding includes the intake process that you create to build a remarkable experience for your customer.
Think about the last time you purchased tickets to an event. Was the enrollment experience fun?
See if you can incorporate any of these experiences in your onboarding process.
This will give your customers something to talk about -and more likely to refer you.
Now you’re here because you want to understand the difference between a paid tool like Survey Monkey or Type form and free tools like Google Forms.
The basic understanding is that Google Forms is free and Survey Monkey and other paid tools have free versions until you require more complexity.
I see this all the time. Makers go straight for the pretty tools because they’re easier on the eyes than a spreadsheet.
I get it.
I want to go straight for the Model Y too.
That is sexy.
But here’s the rub: Until you figure out your process, you won’t know what tool you need that will do the job. Why use a nail gun when a simple claw hammer will do? Because maybe -in the end- a nail gun isn’t what you needed in the first place, but you won’t know that because you skipped over the basic exploration process.
So before you run out and buy a fancy tool, let’s weigh the differences between a paid tool like Survey Monkey and a free tool like Google Forms.
They both come with ready-made templates with question sets. That’s helpful.
Survey Monkey says that you can choose from 15 different question types, you can choose 9 different question types. Let’s face it, for our purposes, we need maybe 5 types -tops.
For both Survey Monkey & Google Forms, you can send your survey many different ways. Get a link and paste into emails and you can track who responds.
Survey Monkey have more advanced versions in their paid tool that allows you to white label your survey, host your survey on other aggregator platforms, and even find you an audience for your survey.
But this isn’t our focus. Our focus is collecting information from leads to prepare a quote. So we don’t need the advanced, paid features.
Analysis & reporting
You can get responses for both Survey Monkey & Google Forms in real time. You can also slice and dice your data to find insights and share your results with your team members. While custom charts can be auto-generated from SM, Google Forms spreadsheets can also create charts and graphs.
Again, that’s a bit of an overkill while you’re just closing the gap on obtaining required info for a project quote. Right?
Lastly, Google Forms is integrated with your gmail account. You don’t have to worry about remembering links or passwords.
If you want to learn how to set up that google root directory, you can find the link for that here.
As I tell my STEAM entrepreneurs, you want to understand your process before you automate. This goes for anything in your business. In today’s business ecosphere, you can pretty much try a free version of any tool. If there’s a SAAS product that you think might work, see if they have a freemium model. Freemium models might include:
- a 14 day trial
- 1 account for free with SAAS product logo or
- a limited number of questions you can ask
It could be any number of things.
Upgrading to a paid program usually removes the restrictions. Beyond that, you want to get efficient with your process so that you can create your own protocols and systems. As I mention to my clients, if ever they want to sell their business, buyers buy process.
With that in mind, design your business to sell. Even if you don’t, you’ll be eager to put systems into place that will make your staff more productive and efficient, clients happy, and turn a profit. Systems are sanity savers.
I content that you should consider the spreadsheet. Whether its excel, numbers, or google, it doesn’t matter.
I’ve worked with engineering and construction firms and recommend they initially use forms for intake. Typically, it’s a Google Form that allows two things:
- It’s a place for the client to take their time to outline the project scope and they can always return to finish later.
- You can automagically convert forms into a spreadsheet
- It’s accessible to every team member at any time.
Google Forms are safe and allow you to create checkboxes, short fields, long fields, and an option to upload photos.
This is great if you’re giving estimates from home.
If you’re starting a new business or have been established for a while, Grab your copy of the Small Business Brand Tool Kit to Get Started. The Free Small Business Brand Tool Kit is a System that I start my clients with that contains all the essentials for creating, launching, and growing a successful business.
What made me happy about Google Forms is that is also has conditional logic. If/then capabilities.
Previously, conditional logic capabilities were only available thru paid tools. I think it was more than a year ago that Google included GL as part of its query set. This is huge -because you can also create dynamic quizzes with this feature. But I digress.
If you want to experiment with the power of conditional logic, you can do this on your own time without the fear of having to pay before you’ve had a chance to figure it out.
Believe me, I understand the constraints of exploring how a tool works and trying to get other tasks done during the day. Nobody wants to waste time and realize they’re running up against a paid tier clock. Again, this is why I implore you to use a spreadsheet or Google Forms to spreadsheet to start.
Later, when you’ve massaged and improved your project intake forms, you can consider purchasing a fancy tool.
Before you head off, I wanted to let you know that if you’re just starting your business or you’ve been in it for a while but looking to ramp up your processes, check out this playlist to get started.
Remember Great things take time. I can’t wait to see you in the next video. #keepbuilding
Free BRAND TOOLKIT – https://buildyourownsmb.com/7steps/
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Free Small Business Brand Tool Kit System
If you're a new business or have been established for a little while, grab your copy of the Small Business Brand Tool Kit System to Get Started.
The Free Small Business Brand Tool Kit System contains all the essentials for creating, launching, and growing a successful business.
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I help STEAM entrepreneurs build products that sell from their workbench. It’s my goal to transform them into confident makers and sell without monologuing like a supervillain. I do this using my ARC Effect via online courses, training, and private coaching.
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