Selecting the right freight forwarder to meet your shipping needs can be a difficult task, and you might decide to invite potential service providers to submit a freight forwarding tender for your business. An Invitation to Tender (ITT) can also be known as a freight RFQ (Request for Quotation) or a freight RFP (Request for Proposal).
The purpose of a freight forwarding tender is to help you to compare freight forwarders and find the best match for your requirements that will provide value for money. It can, however, be a complicated and lengthy process, taking time and resources to administer the tender and analyse the responses. Making sure your freight forwarding tender is clear and comprehensive will help make the process more manageable and ensure that you get a worthwhile return for your efforts.
Here are ten tips for improving your freight forwarding tender, to achieve the best possible results.
1) Do your Homework
Not all freight forwarders are created equal. They will have different specialisms and capabilities, and they won’t all offer the same services. A little time spent researching the freight forwarders you’re considering inviting to tender will save a lot of time having to sift out responses from unsuitable suppliers. It’s not all about services though, looking into the history, values and culture of an organisation can give you a good idea of what they’ll be like to do business with.
2) Know your Market
Where are you looking to import from or export to? You’ll need to check that the freight forwarders you’re considering have a secure network in those parts of the world. If you’re dealing with multiple locations, you’ll want to consider freight forwarders that are good ‘global all-rounders’.
3) Be Clear about your Requirements
The clearer you can be with your requirements, the better the chance of getting a tender that fits. Ensuring the freight forwarders on your list understand your shipping needs and the services you want to utilise will allow them to provide an accurate quote and service plan. It’s essential that any data you include in your tender is transparent, correct and up to date.
4) Consider your Priorities
To be clear about your requirements and select the right freight forwarders to invite to tender, you’ll first need to pin down your priorities. What are your business objectives? Is cost the most important factor, or do you need the quickest, or most reliable, shipping solutions possible? What value do you place on experience and the expert advice you could potentially benefit from? Knowing your business priorities will allow you to align them with the tenders you receive.
5) Keep it Simple
Don’t overcomplicate your freight forwarding tender with irrelevant data, endless scenarios or trivial rules. Remember that an invitation to tender is a two-way negotiation. Freight forwarders who receive many requests to tender won’t respond to all of them. They will cherry pick the ones that are a good fit for their organisation based on their skills, experience and any synergies in culture and values.
6) Predict Potential Growth
Inviting and analysing tenders is time-consuming, and therefore a costly process. The best-case scenario is that you can build a successful ongoing relationship with your choice of freight forwarder, so you need to be sure that they can meet your potential future needs. Hopefully, your business will grow over time. Can your freight forwarder grow with you?
7) Ask the Right Questions
Including set questions that all bidders have to respond to is a good way of ensuring you’re comparing apples with apples and makes evaluating responses much easier. Instead of re-using previous templates, consider what is really important to your organisation and ask the questions that will help you identify which suppliers could be genuine contenders for your business. Asking for figures and statistics where possible will keep answers factual and easy to compare, but you’ll also want to give tenderers the opportunity to expand on these with detail if appropriate.
8) Offer a Q&A
Many businesses will only meet with a potential supplier once they’ve made the tender shortlist. However, beginning the tender process with a Q&A session – perhaps by webinar – will allow those invited to tender to fully understand your needs and tailor their tender accordingly.
9) Use a Tendering Tool
There are numerous e-tendering tools available that can make the process much easier and less time-consuming. Good e-tendering tools will take all the hard work out of those seemingly endless number crunching, and scenario-running sessions needed to compare tenders accurately and keeps project management and all communications with a single tool.
10) Ask for a Breakdown
Cost is one of the key components of a tender, but you want to make sure you’re comparing like for like. Ask for a detailed breakdown of costs and also ensure that the freight forwarders shortlisted compare in terms of capacity, services offered and the quality of services provided.