As a child, I remember being told on more than one occasion to always dot my i’s and cross my t’s before calling something done.
It was a gentle reminder to always pay careful attention to every detail, no matter how seemingly inconsequential.
No doubt it elicited an eye roll or two from me.
But the truth in it is undeniable. You really can’t leave most things to chance.
When you are considering a partnership with a new (or returning) General Service Contractor, you can never be too careful.
That’s where comprehensive RFP’s (request for proposal) become your everything.
The Devil is in The Details
Being honest here, drafting an RFP is probably not the most fun thing you’ll do all week.
A word of advice: make it a team project; with everyone pitching in and contributing their thoughts and efforts it will go faster and you’ll be less likely to forget something important.
Your goal when drawing up your RFP is to leave as little room for error as possible.
And to not die of boredom in the process.
It might be tempting to bypass the RFP process and try to simplify it. Don’t.
The RFP is your friend for these reasons…
- It gives YOU negotiating power. There are things you can leverage to get the concessions you want. You know what you can live without. They don’t.
- It gives you an apples to apples comparison of each contractor so you can analyze what each contractor has to offer.
- It gives you lots of important information, like how they approach work, their ability to meet deadlines, and budgets.
Everything but the Kitchen Sink
So what kind of information should you put in your RFP that will be helpful for the General Service Contractor to know so they can give you an accurate assessment?
Here is a list to get you started…
- Size of the show
- The number of exhibitors
- Location of the venue
- Event date
- A show management sample invoice
- Freight weight
- Number of attendees expected
- Last three consecutive events that you have done
- Request a sample exhibitor manual
- Submission of deadline proposal
- Request all planning deadlines
- Outline all management needs and requirements
- Show floor proposal layout
Now, here comes the tedious portion of the RFP: coming up with all the questions to ask.
If you’ve done it before, it will be easier for you to compile since many of the questions will be the same from previous events or at least very similar.
Or, if this is your first time creating one, I’m going to be nice and give you a short list of sample questions to get you on your way…
- How long have you been in business?
- How many employees do you have?
- Where is your corporate office located?
- Do you have any warehouses near the event location?
- How many shows do you service yearly?
- Do you have any conflicts with another event during our event?
Those Pesky Details
What do you need to be on the lookout for on RFP’s that have been completed by a contractor and returned?
While there isn’t an actual sinister devil lurking in the pages of the returned RFP, there are often times cleverly disguised responses that can be – purposely or otherwise – misleading.
Read through all the details carefully to make sure it’s lacking nuance. If you aren’t sure, ask for clarity. On paper.
Lastly, don’t spend too much time negotiating price and sorting through things with one bidder.
The more time they can monopolize with you, the better chance they have of securing your partnership since it’s likely you won’t want to bother going through the entire process with a new contractor.
Try to keep things moving at a quick pace so that you don’t feel like you’ve boxed yourself in with one contractor.
Submitting a comprehensive RFP means you are choosing to communicate and participate in a process that will help ensure that you will pick the right General Service Contractor to fit your needs.
So, channel your inner Lori Greiner or Mark Cuban by negotiating a deal and forging a new partnership.
Just remember to watch out for sharks.