Tenders are expensive and time consuming for suppliers to prepare and equally time consuming for fleet managers to sort through – so making sure you lay out the right criteria from the word go is essential.
1 Identify your requirements
If the service you require is very specific or your fleet quite small, you could contact suppliers directly. David Graham, fleet manager at E.on UK, says knowing what you want is crucial. “It’s all too easy to go to a supplier without first identifying what you require,” he says.
2 Price versus value
If price is the most important element for you say so upfront; but usually it’s best value rather than price alone. Any supplier needs to be competitive on price, but this should not sacrifice quality or value provided. Any tender should tease out cost and service information to allow the best decision for the company and its drivers. Value for money, service levels, innovative ideas and expertise should be key considerations.
3 Examine your current provision
E.on spends four to five weeks in workshops with its internal customers, identifying what is most important to them. E.on recently went out to tender for daily rental so it asked its drivers questions such as how soon would you need a vehicle; what type of vehicle; what emissions levels and how new does it have to be? It came up with a list of 13 elements.
4 Look at the whole package
It’s not just about the free extras. Independent fleet consultant Professor Colin Tourick says: “Too many fleets...try to get suppliers to throw in a whole lot of extra services for free. While you’ll save some money doing this, you’ll save a whole lot more if you focus primarily on ensuring that you get the structure right.”
5 See how others do it
Talk to other fleets about the lessons they have learned while tendering. Also, seek advice from leasing companies about structuring the tender.
6 Meet face to face
This is the first step in a relationship – make sure you shake hands with someone you like, can trust and can work with. Do they fit in with your company culture? If not, take them off the shortlist.
7 Identify what else is important
Consider elements which are not fleet related, such as CSR, a supplier’s financial stability and reporting
capabilities. Be clear about what kind of company you want to work with.
8 Research the market
A spokesperson for the Government Procurement Service says: “We undertake customer stakeholder engagement to understand its needs and use market intelligence and supplier knowledge, ensuring fleet policies and relevant legislation is considered.”
9 Future proof
If you need a supplier who can offer continual improvement or contract enhancement as technologies change, say so. Many companies are now looking for suppliers that understand the latest market developments, such as vehicle technology.
Accept that everything on your wish list will come with a cost, and not just financially. “If time is critical you will have to broaden the definition of
the vehicle you will accept, for instance,” says Graham. “If product is critical then you may have to accept longer lead times.”