Whether a business is obliged to put their fleet contract out to tender, is seeking a new supplier or simply benchmarking the market to have leverage with their existing supplier, a poorly put together tender document can be a drain on the business. Fleet expenditure is typically the second largest operational cost after staff budgets, so Venson is helping businesses to ensure they receive value for money and the level of service needed to meet their operational objectives.
Some tender documents are concise, to the point and generally well written. However, others are often vague and have been written by people with little or no knowledge of either the fleet their organisation operates or the wider fleet arena.
Tender documents that ask ill-informed questions, request irrelevant information, and generally have no focus as to why the process is being undertaken can lead to suppliers deciding not to respond to the tender, or providing an inaccurate response. This can leave an organisation with an arrangement that is no better, or potentially worse, than their current one. Intelligent, focused questions will enable suppliers to provide detailed answers that in turn will enable organisations to truly focus on implementing the most appropriate solution for their fleet requirements.
Venson believes that if a business has surveyed the marketplace and clearly defined the fleet requirement, the tender document can be compiled giving a clear brief on requirements. This streamlines the entire process and reduces unnecessary delays and resource costs to the tenderer. However, it is important that those compiling tenders do not tie themselves up in knots and make the process too protracted.
Planning and taking time out with potential suppliers will enable tendering to become a ‘fast track’ process that should take no longer than six months from first sitting down to awarding the contract. A successful tender process is the foundation for a mutually beneficial business relationship. While a tender process should typically take place on a three-yearly cycle, the incumbent supplier should not feel threatened. Indeed, organisations should be continually surveying the market to ensure that their suppliers are delivering cutting-edge fleet services and solutions.
Venson’s Top Tips for a successful fleet tender process
- Collaboration is key – even if the procurement department take the lead in the process, it is vital that they take advice and information from key parties with appropriate skill sets – e.g., the fleet manager, finance department, HR, H&S, environmental manager and Legal.
- Define the requirement – the tenderer should decide the aim and what is to be achieved by going out to tender, as well as opportunities for improvement within the current fleet structure. Priorities and strategies will vary for every business across a wide range of factors such as value for money, quality, reliability and service.
- Identify the best potential suppliers – read the fleet press, talk to peers, attend industry meetings/network to find the handful of organisations that are likely to be the most suitable supplier of products and services to meet requirements. Incumbent providers should not be ignored.
- Consider pre-qualification – issued prior to the invitation to tender, a pre-qualification document can improve efficiency by defining the ‘best fit’ shortlist of bidders to progress to the tender stage. Pre-qualification meetings can begin a dialogue and help potential suppliers to ‘get under the skin’ of the organisation and truly understand its goals.
- Seek an innovative supplier – selecting suppliers with knowledge of the latest marketplace developments, and that are investing in new solutions, allows fleets to make the right decision that will be effective in the longer term.
- Carefully consider the tender content – key questions should focus on operational delivery; what’s important to the fleet operator/fleet department and the organisation. The tender document should reflect what is happening within the fleet and tackle specifics. Potential suppliers can then deliver solutions that address those issues.
- Create a structured tender – good, advanced planning and a clearly structured, well thought-through tender document will reduce the likelihood of suppliers asking numerous questions, which would lengthen the tender process unnecessarily.