5 Tips for a Successful Bid Process

Bid season is here! If your vended meal or food service management contract expires at the end of this year, now's the time to pull together your Invitation for Bids (IFB) or Request for Proposals (RFP).

We asked our Founder & CEO Nancy Close to share a few tips on executing the most effective bid solicitation. She has seen and responded to literally hundreds of IFBs and RFPs in her more than 30 years in school food service and catering. She recommends:

  1. Ask questions! Include questions in your RFP/IFB that will help you understand a company's capabilities and how the company's strengths aligns with your program's priorities and goals.
  2. Request extensive references. Most companies can provide a few solid references. Don’t be afraid to ask for 10 references. Ask for contact name, email, school and number of years the company has served that school.
  3. Require all questions from bidders in writing: Warning: Bidders can get aggressive. Don't include your phone number on your RFP/IFB. All questions should be submitted to you by email, before the date stated in the RFP/IFB, allowing you to easily forward the questions and responses to all active bidding companies. It is required that all questions and answers be shared with any interested bidders.
  4. Pre-Proposal Meetings: It is your choice whether to hold a pre-proposal meeting. Most schools without a full-service kitchen forego this meeting. If you have a full kitchen and you serve over 250 students, we recommend holding a pre-proposal meeting for bidders to see your kitchen facilities. Alternatively, you could include photos of your kitchen prep and service areas and your equipment in your bid documents. Be sure to note pictures are enclosed.
  5. Choose Bidder Based on Cost AND Capabilities: The MDE's IFB/RFP templates no longer state that you must choose the lowest bid. Cost is extremely important, however, if a company does not provide meals that students will eat, saving a small amount per meal can actually bankrupt your food service program. By choosing a company with great references, consistently high participation rates and a proven track record, your food service program will generate more revenues than it would with a lower bidder that doesn't offer meals that appeal to students.  The goal is to get students to eat! Choose a company that offers what students love and your program will thrive!



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“All around a great company. Their menus are unique and tasty - everyone loves them.”
Xao Vang : New Milliennium Academy