From the first day you started service you’re a potential victim of incumbent-itis.
As you work diligently towards “wowing” your new client, you’re also on the road towards the first rebid.
And there will be a rebid.
There always is. In most cases there has to be because of procurement requirements. Or, over the years customers simply begin to feel it’s time for a change.
But you’re busy. You’re very busy:
- Delivering on your service promises
- Continuously improving your quality
- Responding to customers ad hoc changes & requests
Then out of nowhere comes a slight whiff, a faint rumbling, a vague rumor your contact passes on to you. Yes, it’s true. Procurement is preparing to rebid your contract.
My contract? The one I’ve busted my backside to serve. Yup. Procurement has the bid process in their teeth. It’s cued up and in process. As soon as the RFP is sent out to bidders Procurement will drop the cone of silence around your contact. You won’t even be able to pick their brains for rebid insights. It’s too late.
Too late to do those things you wanted to do but didn’t have the time. Too late to position yourself against the oncoming competitive wonder promises. It’s too late to:
- Introduce that innovative new technology
- Share cost reductions realized from productivity gains
- Publish your successes to the upcoming decision makers
Now you’re faced with the dilemma of either proposing new ideas before the RFP process (trying to demonstrate your worth) or holding back those great new ideas to include in your rebid proposal.
What’s the answer?
Plan for the Inevitable
Begin working your rebid process before Procurement steps in. This means working backwards from the contract term date. You know when that is because you’re the incumbent.
Start 6-9 months before your contract expires, earlier if the contract dollar volume is large.
The goal is to avoid the rebid if possible. Ideally proposing a contract extension, possibly with incentives of cost savings or avoidance and/or additional value-added services.
If that isn’t possible and the rebid is going to happen, seek to:
- Raise your visibility internally among potential decision makers beyond your direct contact (i.e. Procurement, Safety, Legal, whomever is likely to be part of the decision team)
- Publish quantitative achievements (i.e. productivity increases, quality scores, etc.) during performance review meetings
- Include examples of your innovation, flexibility & responsiveness in performance reviews
- Provide examples of your continuous improvement, specifically process improvements in your service delivery
Save Some Thunder
Identify a number of “wow” initiatives and save the highest profile ones for the upcoming bid. Again, this is only if you’re unable to avoid a rebid process.
You’ll need to have enough “wow” factors to show your customer that they haven’t seen everything you can do. That you’re still bringing innovations and new ideas to them.
Avoid the “Why Didn’t You” Trap
Sometimes incumbents feel they can’t propose new ideas in the upcoming rebid. They believe their customer will ask them “why didn’t you provide that idea before?” Maybe your customer will ask you that, but they’re the ones putting your contract out to bid.
Of course you’ll have to answer their “why didn’t you” question, but only after you’ve made the short-list and are already moving towards reselection.
Once the contract is out to rebid, you, as the incumbent are freed up to address this as a new opportunity. It is a “request” from your customer for a “proposal”. This is the incumbent’s license to wipe the slate clean and get creative. Take advantage of that. Better to be seen as “out there” rather than being ignored as “same-old, same-old”.
Good luck. Rebids are a roller coaster, hopefully you enjoy the carnival. For more insights see “Would You Rather be Barbarian or Duck?“