Soliciting an RFP – that’s so 2015
Is soliciting a Request for Proposal (RFP) the best way to find a fleet partner? That’s a very personal question.
The fleet management RFP process can take months, sometimes over a year, to go through each stage, from putting together your questions, finding and inviting participants, receiving and reviewing responses, narrowing down the top contenders, finalist interviews and then finally selecting the right provider for all your needs. It’s a lot of work to go through an RFP!
Unlike other industries, fleet management requires a true partnership between you and your provider, which can last decades. Is issuing an RFP the best way to find that partner? What other choices do you have that can give you the information to make an informed decision? Let’s look at some alternatives before jumping into an RFP.
- One-on-one talks with business development representatives and subject matter experts, nothing works quite like the power of a personal conversation. Talk with representatives and learn about your potential partner. Don’t be afraid to share your concerns and current frustrations so professionals can help guide you to the best solution.
- Would you find out more with detailed presentations? These aren’t your boring, cookie-cutter presentations. These are customized to show you how a true partnership can service your day-to-day fleet operations, as well as your strategic fleet goals.
- Check out the provider’s offices and get a feel for the everyday life of a fleet management company. Experiencing the behind-the scenes can give you a better feel for your own concerns. Worried the representatives won’t care for your drivers like you would? Request to sit with the maintenance department servicing driver calls for a full experience.
- Executive summaries, pricing presentations and summary overviews, oh my! The options to provide you evidence of superior service for your company are endless. Have you ever considered an RFS request for solutions, that is? Let the provider present a tailored solution to your needs and watch the inventiveness flow in.
Still required to go out to RFP? Do it the smart way with these guidelines. Before you go out to bid:
- Set primary goals with your internal stakeholders. This engages the entire organization in the process. Human Resources may have safety goals, while Finance is concerned about costs. This step allows everyone to outline their priorities together in a process that affects a lot of your organization. Plan how your team will evaluate the responses and how to keep the process moving.
- Focus on what you want to know. Don’t be afraid to ask the questions that relate to your pain points within the RFP. You can easily eliminate a potential partner if they can’t provide solutions to your most challenging problems.
- One size doesn’t fit all. Templates are great for a starting point, but do some editing to focus on your company’s needs (i.e. Don’t want telematics? Delete that section!). Typical questions that are passed around in templates get typical responses. Have your internal stakeholders write their own questions. Specific questions can yield insightful responses.
- Set realistic deadlines for yourself and the responders. A thoughtful response takes time, just like putting together your goals and action items for an RFP. Set milestones for due dates for each step of the process considering holidays, internal organizational deadlines, and give your team time to review each response.
- Focus on the differentiators. With all things being equal, what are you looking for most in a partner? Is it innovation, industry seniority or a specific piece of technology that applies to your drivers? Ask the fleet industry leaders to outline what makes them different and how it applies to your company.
The fleet management industry is rapidly evolving, but finding the right partner for your company will never change. Whether through a traditional RFP or more unique ways like one-on-one consultation, consider all your options to finding the right solution for you.