Preparing a “request for proposal (RFP)” can vary from simply calling vendors and discussing needs for a small event to a very formal submission process including elaborate forms for larger events. In this course, we are aiming for a middle ground, but be aware that in mega-events the process may include a procurement operation and a prescribed review process.
The important element is that we are comparing “apples to apples”, so if you are requesting 250 chairs, for what are you looking? (foldable, Chiavari, a certain style or color, padded seats, bar or table height, stackable, adaptable to chair coverings, etc.) Examples in pictures may be used (caution as this may limit the vendor’s ability to make suggestions), or a description of your general needs provided so the vendor may propose items he or she has. The same is applicable for flatware – modern, classic, silver, gold, types – soup spoons, oyster forks, salad knives, etc. may be prescribed [if required] or suggested [if open to ideas]. Tables – standard or bar height, numbers, finish on top, finish on legs, dimensions, etc. Charger plates – color, size, pattern or style, etc. I hope the idea is clear.)
The RFP may contain a family of sourcing items (such as tables, chairs, bars) or tableware (china, flatware, glasses, charger plates), or might be for a specific item – such as chandeliers, tents, specific items (fountains, 3-D objects, 2-D wall coverings), themed decor, etc.
From your shopping inventory, select a family of items, or a specific item for which you are seeking, and prepare an RFP that could be distributed to identified vendors.
The RFP should include:
- Description of the event (to give the vendor an idea of what would be appropriate to suggest so this needs to be providing a “feel”, scope, and purpose of the event)
- Description of agency, planner, organization, or corporation planning the event (this needs to include a specific name and contact information, and preferred manner of reply (email, hard copy, contract, invoice proposed, etc.)
- Request for the name of sales contact (phone, email company address) and the name of services contact (phone, email)
- Event location (including delivery address/location and any instructions needed)
- Item(s) needed, with quantifies identified
- Dates needed, including desired delivery and pick-up days (and requested times)
- Itemized and total costs (including whether delivery and pick-up are included in costs or extra, staffing, and if is, how much?). You may designate what is to be included in the cost, such as delivery, set-up, pick-up.
- Replacement cost if an item is damaged or destroyed
- Whether a contract or a purchase order is preferred or necessary
- Deposit and final payment dates
- Any other items which would be helpful or necessary for the vendor to know, including “must have’s” such as delivery/pick-up times, or the availability of load-in docks, steps, or service elevators, that must be negotiated, etc.)
- It is all right to also ask “do you handle…?” as they may have items for which you seek and you could consolidate orders in this manner.
- In some cases, a request for references is also suggested. (names, phone, email, approximate dates)
Some RFP’s are more complicated due to the type of item and service required. For instance, with tenting:
- Dimensions and style and access needed (for cranes, trucks, electrical support, etc.)
- Support materials sought (such as tent flooring, ADA ramps)
- Any certifications of company or workers, or permitting necessary or desired
- Approximate length of set-up and tear-down required
- Insurance the company maintains (generally the minimum required is $1M in general liability)
All RFP’s need to include a “respond by” date (usually about two weeks), along with an approximate date of when a decision will be made to use or not use the vendor (not longer than two weeks after the “respond by” date, as vendors will be keeping inventory on hold until hearing back from you.
Depending on the item or service, a diagram of the event may be helpful.