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If you are a property manager, facility manager, or just someone who holds the keys to the kingdom, you’ve probably had to deal with vendors at some point. Most times you get to know vendors through their response to your Request for Proposal (RFP).

A request for proposal is the holy grail document you send out to vendors who will submit their pricing and services in hopes to gain your business. RFP’s can be issued for anything: from cleaning services to building construction. 

But have you considered that your request for proposal might be a hot mess? 

Many vendors pass on an RFP that is not presented in a clear and concise manner. If you are unhappy with only the lower-tier companies responding to your request or the RFP not performing well, it could be that your proposal is confusing. 

Most of your high-quality vendors would love to have your business but are unwilling to wade through the muddy waters you have created. Vendors want to understand expectations upfront in the same way you do. Jumping through hoops does not attract vendors. In fact, it may be driving them away.

In this post, we work through the ways you can clean up your request for proposal and give vendors what they want. So you can receive the bids you really want to see.

1. Requirements

Mixing requirements throughout your request for proposal is an incredibly common blunder. The requirements should be clearly stated in a dedicated section and not sprinkled throughout the document. 

You may argue that a reputable business that wants to do business with you needs to read the entire document, but there is a reason why simplicity is the key to success (even credit card giant, American Express, believes in this principle).

Requirements that are clearly labeled steer potential vendors toward your expectations. They turn a difficult process into something simple. They also tell those who are considering a submission what you expect and that you refuse to hide behind legal mumbo-jumbo or anything else. 

Being transparent produces much better results from those vying for your business.

2. Submission Process

Many people forego adding submittal forms to their request for proposals. However, just as you want to be transparent with your requirements, you also want to reduce roadblocks with your submission process. 

An unclear submission process or lack of submittal forms can scare away potential vendors. It can also create frustration for you as the bids you receive all look different. A poor submission process means you have unknowingly pitted apples against oranges instead of apples to apples.

Including a submittal form or process minimizes the amount of time it takes for a vendor to “think” about what needs to be included. It is attractive to potential vendors as it makes the process fast and simple and reduces the odds of missing a requirement. 

The outcome is beneficial for both parties and cuts down on the overall frustration. You will see improved consistency from your submissions, a higher level of bids, and the ease of comparing and evaluating the different services, costs, and other benefits offered.

3. Budget

Including your numbers may feel like you are shooting yourself in the foot. Many people fear that vendors that could possibly come in under budget might up their numbers. But that isn’t true.

You don’t want to waste your time (or the vendor’s) preparing a proposal that’s way out of your range. By clearly stating the amount you want to pay, you are giving vendors permission to compete with each other for what they will offer you at the same price. Again, this makes it easier to see who the clear winner is and who you want to bring onto the project.

Many vendors are willing to work within the budget you include to address the most important requirements included in your scope. Vendors may also direct you to the items that may be impossible at your price-point or even non-essential. A good vendor bid dissects your scope and works honestly with the numbers you provide. They can help you identify the top priorities so that you can exclude or rework elements to a later phase or scope. 

A budget is crucial as it allows you to receive a high-quality product at your desired price point.

The ultimate goal is to be attractive to vendors who might respond to your solicitations. Organization and simplification of your request for proposal is just as important as the information inside it. If you are looking for ways to improve your RFP further, take a look at this simple guide to take your RFP from good to great.

Getting clear about what you want is the first step. The second is communicating those needs to potential vendors. Being transparent with your requirements, budget, and submission process builds trust with prospective agencies. Being transparent with your desires may go against your intuition but it’s what vendors want. 

It’s also worth taking the time to know what questions you’ll ask to sort through the proposals you receive.

Cleaning up your request for proposal grants you a higher level of participation (and higher quality) when it comes to your bids.