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What can you use proposal for

August 30,  2021
What can you use proposal for
          I currently use your All in One agreement.  I was wondering if I should cut and paste any of the provisions in my proposal that I get customers to electronically sign prior to commencing the contract and work?
          Proposals are useful and can and should be used; but you need to know what a proposal is and how to use it.  I don’t know what your proposal consists of and calling a document a “proposal” doesn’t really help.  You need to be particularly certain that your proposal says a proposal and does not become a contract. 
          A proposal is your offer to perform your services and should not invite acceptance by the customer.  Why?  Because a proposal is one sided; it’s your offer, period.  What turns it into a contract?  A contract is an offer that is accepted containing all the material terms of the deal. 
          Typically your proposal will look quite different than your contract; it will not have all of the provisions that you believe are essential as part of the deal, in particular the “protective provisions”.  The typical proposal would contain the list of equipment and services and the pricing; that’s it. It can be as elaborate or brief as warranted.  A $300 job is not likely to entail the same presentation as a $20,000 job, but it’s essentially the same, a presentation.  The details of a formal agreement come later, after the customer has expressed interest in proceeding beyond your proposal.
          Can you use the proposal as your contract if it in fact contains all of the contractual provisions that the Standard Alarm Contract contains and also provides for the written acceptance by the customer?  Yes you can, but I don’t think it’s a great idea from a sales perspective.  I also don’t think leaving your contract with the customer is a great idea.  While I am not suggesting that you seek to deceive or mislead your customer regarding the “deal terms”, I also don’t know that you have to go out of your way to complicate the sale.  Let’s face it, the alarm contract does have many provisions that could cause a customer to pause before signing.  A residential customer doesn’t have to be presented with the contract days before signing, but will have a cooling off period to cancel after signing. Commercial customers don’t get the cooling off period. I am not sure how many of us would rent a car or get on a plane if we had the terms and conditions in advance.
          Here’s how the proposal can be used.  You can include all the promotional material you like; present the equipment and services and include pricing.  You might want to provide the Disclaimer Notice also so that it can aid in encouraging additional equipment and services.  The proposal should not require the customer’s signature.  If it does then above the signature it should something along these lines:  “Subject to formal agreement” or, even better “Customer approves this proposal and requests Alarm Company to present Contract”. 
          The proposal has another purpose when using the All in One agreements.  Those agreements include a separate Schedule of Equipment and Services.  You can use the proposal as the Schedule; just attach it or if electronic, include it where the Schedule would be. 

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301