• When sourcing suppliers, consider the characteristics that can make them long-term strategic partners.
• Look for suppliers with a solid plan and business model.
• Select partners who can adjust to last-minute requests and crises.
• Avoid surprises by discussing hidden fees and establishing billing procedures up front.
A great professional
relationship is usually based on things like trust, loyalty, strong communication and shared vision. It doesn't always involve space requirements, equipment, pricing and dates -- but that type of immediate logistical information is often all that's listed in a request for proposal. Those details are critical, but broader holistic questions can help identify true partners when other factors may be comparable. Here are some strategic questions to consider for your next RFP, provided by Greg Kamprath, national account manager at IMS Technology Services.BACKGROUND
When was your business established?•
What is the average tenure and industry experience of your management and staff?•
Describe your company's employee development and training program.•
Describe your company's growth strategy and plans to remain viable in the market.•
What awards/certifications has your firm received? Are there standard levels you've met?•
What sets you apart from your competitors?•
Describe your capacity to respond to fluctuations in demand (flexible staffing, etc.).•
Do you use subcontractors or temporary employees during planning or for on-site staffing? If so, what is your training process?•
Describe your disaster-recovery capability -- plans for recovering physical location, equipment, information systems and staff.SERVICE•
Provide a brief description of all services provided by your company, including which are provided in-house vs. outsourced. •
What type(s) of events/meetings does your company specialize in servicing?•
What is the largest event for which your company has provided services, in terms of attendees and total budget? •
Submit five work samples (photos, videos, case studies).•
Describe how you communicate with clients during the pre-event planning process.•
Provide two examples of your company's flexibility to respond to last-minute changes, budget cuts and/or logistics issues.•
Describe a challenging event your company planned and implemented, including innovative ideas, challenges overcome and value-added activities associated with this event.BUDGETING AND FINANCIAL•
Are there fees that do not appear in your proposal but we would see on final billing?•
What is your deposit/payment schedule? •
What are your payment terms? QUALITY AND CUSTOMER SERVICE•
Describe how your company ensures quality for each event.•
How do you measure customer satisfaction?•
Describe your company's corrective process for customer-service issues. What is the escalation process if issues remain unresolved?•
How does your company continually improve customer satisfaction?•
Provide an example of a lesson your company learned when quality did not meet customer expectations.•
Provide an example in which your company did an extraordinary job.REFERENCES•
List four accounts for which you've provided services in the past two years. Provide company name, address, contact name, phone, email, services provided and length of service. Include two current long-term customers; one current customer gained in the past 18 months and one former customer with whom you no longer do business.