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Using Bidder Lists, by Corinne Maddox, CCM, CFM

Developing a good list of bidders is the first step in a successful contract. In important contracts, start with a Long List of candidates. Use your professional organization and business contacts that are familiar with the capabilities of companies providing the required products or services. Find out whom other facility managers use for similar work, and whom your service providers have worked with on other jobs. You almost always get much better service and often better pricing from referrals and friends; they have a reputation to uphold, as well as a post-contract relationship to maintain. Obtain basic qualifications of all candidates by phone calls, meetings or sending out a formal Request for Qualifications (RFQ). Give candidates basic facts about the project such as size, scope, location and milestone dates. Ask candidates to provide you with information such as number of years in business, parent and affiliate company names, size of local office and staff types, licenses, project or client list and financial strength (important for construction contractors since they finance construction periods). Most companies in the design and construction industry maintain this data on American Institute of Architects (AIA) Form 305 and Federal Form 254 and 255. After review of qualifications, narrow candidates to a Short List, and only ask those to prepare a detailed proposal or bid. Be sure the Short Listed companies are all willing to invest the time and cost to prepare a bid, and be sure they are all companies who you would be willing to award the contract. Select 3 to 5 bidders, which will allow adequate competition, even if one drops out. It is best not include unqualified companies for political reasons, if you are not willing to award to them. Most companies would strongly prefer to be eliminated before spending the time and money to bid if they do not have a chance of winning. Larger bid lists will result in a lower level of interest by bidders (due to less chance of winning) and that results in higher prices. Finally, bidders will adjust bid prices based on bid list competitors, so it is best to select bidders who match the project in size and quality.

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