Yeah, writing an RFP (Request for Proposal) is a pain in the ass, no doubt. It forces you to put into writing everything you are expecting from a vendor. Yet, for a guy like me who tends to have unspoken expectations, it’s a great tool. Here are 3 things RFP’s do to make your job easier in event planning and management.
- RFP’s clarify all of the services or products you will receive from the vendor- No unspoken expectations.
- RFP’s Can serve as the contract between you and the vendor. Most contracts drafted by the vendor favor the vendor as they are written by the vendor’s attorney, or someone in their office looking out for their best interest. Use the RFP as a tool to get the language you need into the contract.
- RFP’s get you the best deal for your money. For a recent event, I produced an RFP for equipment rental. Initially I was going to exclude the vendor I use most, because I know their prices had gone up and I was not happy about that. I was sure they would be the most expensive. At the last minute I sent them an RFP to respond to. Wow, was I surprised at their response. Not only did they win the bid, but they were 25% cheaper than the closest bid.
Are you going to use an RFP for every contract? No, it doesn’t always make sense. If you need a specialized product or service and only one local vendor can handle it, you’re best off negotiating your price and expectations. However, on those occasions where a number of vendors are able to deliver the same product or service, it’s in your best interest to get proposals.
Prepare for a protracted process in selecting vendors from RFP responses though. You have to take the time to compare your request with their proposal, ensuring everything you requested is accounted for. You will undoubtedly need clarification from the responses and that takes time too. Vendors may use slightly different terms for their products than you do, or they may have a variety of styles or sizes for the product in your request.
The time invested in this process is well spent though. You’ll see it on the bottom line and managing the selected vendor will be much easier.