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How to get great suppliers in a stretched market

“I got no tender responses! Now what?” 

Woman looking into empty Box

More and more clients are finding nobody wants to bid for their projects. It’s too easy to just put this down to suppliers being busy. But smart procurement professionals are finding ways to attract the best, (and the busiest) contractors to their projects.

Here are four proven ways you can tackle and reduce this problem.

1. Easier, clearer, smarter procurement processes– less hassle.

The days of complex and difficult tender responses are over. Suppliers don’t want to waste their time on irrelevant, extensive legacy paperwork which regurgitates generic information and only gives them a chance of winning. 

Don’t bother with two-stage processes – they often duplicate and lessen suppliers’ appetite for bidding. Use clear pre-conditions to eliminate all but the most suitable suppliers. Then focus only on the most important factors that will drive value for money. Use structured interviews for clarifications and negotiations.

2. Leave your price discussion till later.

Almost every industry is facing price uncertainty, compounded by labour shortages and supply chain vulnerability. Forcing fixed prices will scare away the best suppliers, who have plenty of other, more collaborative ways of working through these issues with their clients.

Instead, work on selecting suppliers with proven track records of working together with their clients to find savings; to identify alternative sources for materials; and to minimise the impacts of price escalations. Use a contract structure that encourages open book collaboration and incentivises clever thinking to jointly save costs as your project progresses.

3. Get your ducks lined up

You’ll have key upcoming projects partly planned, so let your suppliers know what’s coming up. Too many major projects have been delayed through political changes or bureaucratic complexity – so suppliers lack trust in the timing of both procurement processes and the works. 

Get your designs and consents in place before you go to tender. In a busy market, they’ll run with the clients they trust to do what’s needed so they can start on time. Say what you’ll do, and do it – when you said you would. Don’t keep them hanging.

4. Build your reputation as a client of choice

Everyone prioritises doing business with those who are easy to work with. This means being reasonable – for example, 

  • don’t load contracts with unfair risks that suppliers can’t manage
  • don’t exclude suppliers on technicalities like marginally late tenders, minor omissions, or incorrect formats
  • listen carefully to their input and feedback on your tender processes. Acknowledge concerns and help out
  • make a point of providing friendly and truly informative debriefs, so your tenderers are better equipped to understand and meet your requirements

We all know the supplier market is tight. The procurement balance has flipped. It’s now up to you to show-case to suppliers what a great organisation you are to work with.

Please contact us for more information about procurement practices that will get you the best suppliers in today’s busy market.

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