Should I Create an RFP? Or should I not Create an RFP?
This is part 1 of 2 as we dive into the question of whether you should create an RFP for your project. Here, we will tackle the objections to the RFP process; next week, we’ll look at the positives.
We often get asked by property managers: should I create an RFP for my project? Instead of answering them, we reply with a question: why would you not want to send out a request for proposal?
We hear many answers, but they usually boil down to one of the following:
- If I create an RFP, I’ll only be looking for the lowest bids.
- RFPs are very specific and exacting and thus don’t allow vendors to use their expertise in recommending the best course of action.
- RFPs take too long to complete.
All of these objections seem to have merit, and many have faced the same anxiety about their own RFP process. Fortunately, these reasons for not having a formal procurement process do not hold up to the truth. Allow me to explain:
“If I create an RFP, I’ll only be looking for the lowest bids.”
Actually, it’s not RFPs that will seek out only the lowest bidders, but the old way of simply sending an email asking for a bid. Without specific information and details about the property and project, a vendor will not know what they’re bidding on. In these cases, most vendors go with the lowest, cheapest option possible in order to provide the lowest looking proposal to you.
It’s not until after you select them that they learn more about the project and add on extra costs and fees. This is not good as it may blow your budget.
RFPs are the best procurement process because they seek the best provider at the right price. Because of the detailed requirements and questions that a great RFP template should have, it will force service providers to answer the tough questions. When they do, you’ll easily be able to tell the difference between a quality company with a great proposal and one that just doesn’t measure up, even if their price is lower. A good RFP may show you that the lower priced bid will result in trouble for your property or more costs down the road.
“Vendors can’t share their expertise because RFPs are too precise.”
This is a good point. If an RFP is very explicit and simply lays out requirements of what the property manager needs for their project, then it will return the exact specifications they asked for, regardless of whether that is the best fit for the property or project.
The better method is to develop an understanding of which aspects of your project would be a must have, what would be a nice to have, and where you would take some input.
Service providers are experts in their industry. They do what they do all day every day and have the experience to know the best way to treat an issue or solve a problem. If you are talking with a landscaper about service at your complex, should you tell them what the watering schedule should be for your plants, trees, flowers, grass, and scrubs? Or should you tell them your goals (most beautiful, water conservation, etc) and ask them what would be best?
Thus, taking that list of items you grouped into must haves, make those requirements on your RFPs:
Example: Plant beds will be kept weed free.
Anything that is a nice to have, they can be marked as a question.
Example: Are you able to provide tree mapping showing the location and types of our trees?
And anywhere you’re looking for advice, make sure that is clear in the scope of work section of your RFP:
Example: What process and timing do you recommend for fertilizing our plants to ensure they look beautiful year-round?
By organizing your RFP items this way you can make sure you accomplish your goal and allow service providers to use their expertise.
“RFPs take too long to complete.”
This is a very common complaint about RFPs, for both property managers and service providers. Property managers bemoan the time it takes to create an RFP, find great vendors, and then send the RFP out to them. Service Providers see an RFP and think it will take much longer to complete than their regular proposal process (which is usually the same template they’ve used for years so they don’t have to spend time to update it – thus it isn’t personalized to their prospective buyer).
This long time to complete RFPs is still the case for many. However, forward-thinking property managers are now using RFP automation to manage their request for proposal process. By using an RFP tool like Synlio which is designed to make the process go quicker, these managers are saving valuable time, and thus money. They are incorporating pre-built RFP templates with an automation engine that finds vendors, communicates with them through regular follow ups, and even replaces them with other providers when they don’t respond in time.
Service providers enjoy the fact that with an RFP automation software like Synlio, they can ensure they know exactly what is needed, tailor their proposal to meet the property manager’s needs, and respond quickly and easily.
So now that you’ve seen the 3 biggest objections to RFPs and learned how you can overcome them, it’s time for you to create an RFP for your next project.