How involved are you when an existing customer goes for RFP? [x-post /r/web_design]

Some companies (nonprofits mostly) who need to invest a certain amount of dollars on projects usually need to go out for other bids to make sure they get competitive pricing, etc. I understand this is pretty typical.

Keeping that in mind, this is a long-time customer that we built and maintain the website for and that is now looking for a re-design due to branding and structure changes. They openly admit that due to the existing relationship that we are highly likely to be chosen but they still need to present to the board other bids to compare.

The issue is, no one on the board or directly within the organisation is able to draft an RFP for a website and the most IT-competent person was assigned the task. In the past week, they have requested 3 separate meetings (with him, the staff and everyone together) to go over building the RFP. It's a lot of talk of what they envision but requires a lot of our guidance as what they have, what's possible and what is definitely not going to happen for example.

They sell it as "you understand all the technical aspects so we really depend on you to provide all the information a competitor would need to understand what the new website should be".

The website is not overly complicated besides a few long application forms and PayPal donations – it's honestly something any professional could handle. We attended one of these meetings already and the guy was pretty open about looking for guidance on building the RFP and he already understands the website isn't that complicated.

What would or do you do in this situation? In one way, I feel like we are possibly working for nothing (if they were to go for someone else's bid) and in another way, I feel this is a crucial time to flex our muscles so to speak and better guarantee our pick.

Do you charge for these meetings up front or do you just get the time back if you get the project?

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