As a big organization, weighing out your different pricing options can be a big hassle, especially when it comes to something you might not be well-versed in, such as copiers and printers. You know you need them, but you’re not sure how to tell you’re getting the most out of your spending and receiving the most competitive prices possible.
That’s where a bid comes in. Putting a bid out, or going out for a bid, is the most common way that big organizations like schools and local governments choose to view all of the different contract options available to them, from all the different vendors in their area.
As a print vendor of Xerox devices ourselves, we are quite familiar with the bid process and have gained a lot of knowledge over the years on how to help companies receive the best prices possible for the right equipment they need, and we've compiled 5 of the major things
What Does “Going Out for a Bid” Mean?
When you’re planning to buy a new car, you probably don’t just go to the first dealership you see and buy a car right off the lot. It’s likely that you’re going to do some research, test drive a couple of different options, and assess your finances/down payment options before making a final decision.
When companies go out for a bid, they’re essentially doing the same thing. They have a big purchasing decision to make and want to see all of the options available to them. The only difference is that instead of going out and visiting different vendors themselves, the vendors actually come to them with different pricing proposals.
“Going out for a bid” just means they’re asking several vendors for a proposal, in order to know that they’re getting the best value for the items they’re going to buy. It’s a standard practice when companies or organizations need to buy several copiers/printers at once and want to consolidate their efforts. In order to streamline the process and make sure you’re getting the most out of your bid, here are five things to keep in mind.
1. What Kind of Machine Do You Need?
When it comes to copier proposals, and comparing pricing bids, it’s imperative that all vendors are proposing the same-like products. If some vendors propose a small desktop unit, and others are proposing a large standalone machine with a high-end finisher, then the pricing will be drastically different, and those two options will fit totally different needs.
The first step is deciding exactly what type of machine that you need. Whether it’s a desktop unit or a standalone, what kind of finishing options you’d like included, and printing speeds are all things that need to be taken into consideration. You don’t want to confuse your vendors, so using verbiage like “nice to have” isn’t recommended, because you want them all to be proposing the same-like product. Specificity is important to ensure you’re getting a good proposal.
When all the vendors are proposing similar products, then you can see which is the best deal that you’d be receiving. It’s like the old saying of comparing apples to apples and not apples to oranges.
2. How Much Time Are You Giving Your Vendors
When putting a proposal together, vendors need plenty of time in order to compile everything and ensure they’re getting you the best deal possible. In most cases, they need to request special pricing from their manufacturers, and these approvals can take weeks to get through.
You also want to make sure that the vendors have enough time to really read through the proposal, become comfortable with what your needs are, and how they’ll be fixing them. As stated before, having a clear understanding of what you need will lead to better proposals, so if you’re going out for a bid make sure you’re sending it out in time to give your vendors at least a couple of weeks’ notice. Depending on the complexity of the bid, a bid is typically sent out at least 3-4 weeks before it’s due, but it could need more time so that your installation date doesn’t have to be postponed.
3. Prioritizing Vendor Communication
During the bid process, there is usually a time where vendors have the chance to ask the customer detailed questions about the bid. It’s important to communicate the answers to those questions as soon as possible because it’s likely that the vendor is waiting on the answers to those questions in order to decide on what products are best suited.
While the tendency may be to collect all questions and reply to them all at one time, just remember to allow enough time after the questions are answered for the vendor to prepare their best proposal.
4. Be Open to Utilizing Different State and Local Contracts
If your organization belongs to a state or local government then you likely qualify for a number of special pricing contracts. If you’re wanting a specific contract then you can specify it in your bid, however, you should be open to hearing about other contracts that might fit your needs better or save you more in the long run.
You may consider allowing vendors the option to use whatever government contracts are available.
5. Allow Vendors to Meet with You to Discuss Your Needs
Prior to any bid process, it’s a good idea to visit with vendors to understand more about the industry and products that you will be acquiring. A reputable vendor should be able to consult with you about the area they specialize in, and provide you with as much consultive information as possible about how their products can help your organization.
It would be wise to meet with more than one vendor to make sure that you’ve explored all of the options available and selecting a consultive organization to assist you throughout the process can be a valuable resource in the preparation for a bid.
We’re Here to Make the Process Easier
Going out for a copier bid is the most effective way to make sure that your needs are being met at the best price point possible, and also that you’re working with a vendor that is truly knowledgeable and understanding. Keeping these points in consideration will help you make the most out of the process and ensure your vendor understands what you’re looking for as an organization.
If you’re left with any additional questions on the bid process or want to read more about different types of contracts/pricing available, you can read our article Special Pricing: What is it and How Do I Qualify? As always, our business consultants are available to assist you in any way possible as well.