As part of our commitment to providing our customers with the highest level of service, Ciminelli Real Estate Corporation works to identify opportunities to mitigate risk, improve vendor performance, and realize cost savings. These opportunities are the result of our “owner’s perspective” developed over decades as property owners, our local approach to vendor engagement across our multi-state service footprint, the success of our risk transfer program, and the buying power and experience our team has in the procurement of services.
Procuring services and identifying vendors for a real estate portfolio of over 14 million square feet has helped our team develop a proven process that results in finding ideal vendors for our customers. Although there is a great deal of work that goes into finding that perfect match, we thought we’d narrow it down to our top 5 tips for vendor procurement:
Simplify your Request for Proposal (RFP)
The primary tool used when procuring goods or services is the Request for Proposal (RFP). The RFP process creates a competitive environment and ultimately a like-for-like comparison, and is a staple of the procurement toolbox.
RFPs often become bloated documents filled with unnecessary information requests and additional pricing strategies that are never read, or considered, by owners and stakeholders. This not only wastes time for the bidders, but also creates a more labor-intensive review process. Work with stakeholders to determine the most critical qualifying items for the event, and then write an RFP designed to simplify your evaluation and approval process. Initiating the approach of a “Five Question Bid” encourages responses based on those critical items and streamlines Ciminelli’s review process, allowing our property management team to spend more time on the interview phase. This ensures the best fit possible between vendor and property.
Think Beyond the Bid
Although simplifying the RFP creates focus, Scope Refinement, Insource/Outsource Analysis, Process Re-Engineering, Direct Negotiation, and other problem solving tactics can provide additional benefits in the appropriate situation. Keeping an open mind to options outside a traditional RFP can often yield the best solution for vendor procurement.
For example, one of our large Western New York retail clients requested a new vendor to supply the walk-off mats in their headquarters and retail branches. Ciminelli engaged suppliers and refined the scope of our janitorial agreements to initiate a purchased walk-off mat program that paid itself back within 14 months. After 5 years, none of the mats have been replaced, and our customers are appreciative of the value we realized with this customer solution.
Focus on the Long Term
Chasing arbitrary savings goals is a quick recipe for making poor long-term decisions. Work with internal stakeholders to develop realistic, yearly financial targets so bids can focus on the creation of value. As such, prioritizing long-term partnerships over short-term savings can deliver tangible benefits. True partnership is achieved when you share your internal goals with your vendors, and allow them to help you strategize solutions. This approach increases trust between you and your vendor, fosters innovation, and leverages their expertise to your mutual benefit. Vendors appreciate the chance to be part of your team, and often rise to the occasion when presented with this type of opportunity.
Give Respectful Feedback
Focus on growing relationships with your vendor partners built on honest, but respectful feedback. Relying on this approach means taking the extra time needed to meet your vendors on-site or in-person to clarify expectations and follow up on important service details. Remind your vendors that they are an extension of your team, working together to service your mutual customer. If you want people to hear and respond positively to your criticisms, you need to offer compliments when they are earned.
Risk Management – It is Important!
Taking the time to draw a clear and concise scope of work and contract pays dividends for the length of the agreement. Ciminelli works to develop a scope of work tailored to your business needs, ensuring a high quality of work and insisting on the use of risk transfer documents to protect the assets of our building owners and customers. By outsourcing the procurement services and management of your vendor team, customers can experience the benefits of Ciminelli’s economies of scale without the risk of holding contract. For maintenance items related to snow removal, fire alarms, landscaping, and roofing, this is a critical task. Ciminelli works closely with legal and insurance advisors annually to confirm 100% risk transfer for our customers.