If you’re a parking services company owner, manager, or executive, you’re probably received many requests for proposals, quotes, and information from prospective customers. Otherwise known as RFPs, RFQs, and RFIs. But even if you’re already familiar with the process, there’s always room for improvement. That’s why we’re sharing some tips that can help you win more RFQ bids and build more partnerships.
1. Get on Their RFP Radar
You can’t close sales if you’re not aware of RFPs. Identify all prospective customers in your space and make sure you’re on their radar by asking to be included in their RFP requests. Often larger companies will engage third-party RFP process-management companies to run things. Find these third-party companies in your industry and get on their radar as well.
2. Understand the Process
Make sure you have a good grasp of the RFP process. RFPs detail specific project needs a customer has in one document. The RFP process starts when this document is sent to competing bidders who respond with proposals. Next, the customer narrows down the submissions. Finalists are then allowed to ask any questions they have, and the customer may also ask them more questions. Lastly, bidders submit their final proposal and a winner is selected. This process can take weeks to months, depending on the project’s size and complexity.
3. Bid Strategically
Before you respond to an RFQ, decide if it’s actually worth your time. Do you currently have the capacity to meet the customer’s expectations? Also, how profitable would the agreement be? Is it truly worth your time and effort? You can answer these questions by creating a formalized system for screening RFQs that gathers input from key people in your organization. Decisions should be based on the capabilities of your company and its resources to deliver and implement the RFQ’s mandatory requirements.
4. Refine Your RFQ Response
Don’t fall into the “cut and paste” trap. Treat every customer and their needs as unique. Carefully read each RFQ from beginning to end. Then define a custom set of goals and strategy for responding.
This strategy should focus on specific elements that will meet the customer’s needs and your organization’s goals. Also, make sure you adhere to the customer’s format so they can compare “apples to apples” when reviewing bids. It’s also a good idea to suggest KPI and accountability measures based on their specific request. Without a strategy or focus, RFQs can become wordy documents without relevant content.
5. Be Ready for Tight Deadlines and Last-Minute Requests
RFPs often pop up at the last minute with tight submission deadlines. The more complex the project, the tougher it will be to deliver a thoughtful response in a short period of time. Be ready for these situations by creating an RFP template. Then, when the RFP comes in, you’ll have 80% of the standard materials ready to go. This will give you more time to focus on the 20% that needs to be customized for that proposal.
6. Never Quote Your Lowest Price
Leave your customer room for a “win.” That means letting the procurement department look good when they negotiate a lower price than your original quote. So, if you usually price your bid with a 50% gross margin, submit a quote with 60%. This leaves your customer room to negotiate a 10% discount and feel like they made a great deal.
7. Don’t Share Your Secret Sauce
Although you want to distinguish yourself from your competitors, don’t give away your “secret sauce” in your RFQ response. If you do, the customer may spot your unique advantage and ask other bidders if they can provide the same thing. You’ll lose your edge and no longer seem better equipped than your competitors. Your competitors can also use this knowledge about your business to improve their own businesses and acquire a larger share of the marketplace.
8. Keep Improving With Kaizen
Continuous improvement, or Kaizen, is a method for identifying opportunities that streamline work and reduce wasted effort. The result is more efficient workflows that save time and money. The practice was formalized by the popularity of Lean/Agile/Kaizen in manufacturing and business. It’s now being used by thousands of companies all over the world to identify savings opportunities. Working to constantly improve is the primary way many businesses reduce operating overhead. For example, projects that involve shifting deadlines, changing priorities, and other complexities are often filled with opportunities to improve. Yet no one may have identified or acted on these opportunities. Consider using the Kaizen method to help improve your parking management services company’s workflow and efficiency.
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See our tips on writing a successful valet parking proposal