This is a common way of getting bids or quotes from various companies and making sure they are all providing you comprehensive bids based on an apples-to-apples comparison.  RFP stands for Request for Proposal. This process is a good one for several reasons:

1) By creating an RFP you are collecting your thoughts all in one place and clearly describing what you need.  This process causes you to really think things through, it might take you a bit of time for the first one you do.

2) It makes you do research.  Do some searches online for the product or service you are preparing the RFP for and you will undoubtedly learn more about what you want and you’ll make your RFP much more comprehensive. 

3) Always make your RFP’s in PDF format. 

4) It keeps you from having to retell your story multiple times.  Put your RFP in writing and when you feel like its pretty much done, send it to your first vendor and then schedule a call with them to review it. They will ask you questions and begin clarifying your thoughts and needs even more.

5) Consider your RFP in its “first draft” form until you get you have your conversation with the first vendor.  After that conversation tell the vendor you will modify the RFP and send it back to them.

6) Now you’re ready to send out the RFP to more vendors.  Check online and find some other vendors that you are comfortable with and that seem to be a good fit.  Make your list and begin contacting them.

7) Be sure to give a realistic timeframe for when you would like the responses from the RFP’s back.  Give the vendors enough time to do a thoughtful response.

Once you get the responses back you should do a “forced ranking” on the key areas of the RFP.  Don’t just go on price, put service in, financing/leasing , warranty, installation time, communication promptness, follow up, service commitment and guarantee.  You may find a couple more that you want to add or switch out.  Once you have all the facts from your RFP process you can make a good decision.  Make it happen! 

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