Quality | Best Practices | Custom Buildings | Blast Resistant Buildings | Planning

When a Vendor Over Promises During An RFP

March 7th, 2022   |  6 min. read
When a Vendor Over Promises During An RFP Blog Feature

The old business adage to “under-promise,” so that you can “over-deliver” in order to delight your customers, is almost engrained in American culture. It’s the service that most of us expect when we are the customer. But unfortunately, it isn’t the service that is most often delivered.  

In a quest to win bids many businesses will make promises that they just can’t deliver on. Sadly, this happens in every industry. 

There are some products where, at best, this is a huge inconvenience, and, at worst, is disastrous. 

If you talk to anyone who is about to start an RFP they may not know who they will select for their project, but they will know the kind of vendor they want. That’s likely a company whose subject matter experts speak with confidence and industry knowledge. That usually comes with a vendor who answers all of the RFQ with all the requirements and, to your delight, over-delivers on their promises. 

Evaluating Blast Resistant Building Manufacturers

To get to that point, it’s important to evaluate the company as a whole. The core principles of a company matter. We’ve written about integrity in the engineering process for blast-resistant buildings before, but integrity is important every step of the way. 

Here’s why. What a company does internally is what a company does externally – it’s their culture. In his book, Good to Great, the author, Jim Collins suggests that great companies have processes that are “infused with the brutal facts of reality.” 

If a company will make a promise just to get a bid, they are not displaying the kind of integrity that is expected and needed. If something specified in an RFP does not align with a safe blast-resistant building, a good business decision, or a good building practice, a great company will speak up and deliver the brutal facts. 

A company with integrity would rather ‘no bid’ (and lose the job) than go against their deeply insightful protocols by sacrificing their integrity and your safety.  

Where Does It All Break Down? 

Typically, when we hear about a company that has “under-delivered” when it comes to an RFP for an oil and gas company, the ball is usually dropped when it comes to the delivery timeline

There can be a number of reasons for this to happen. An experienced vendor, one who has successfully delivered on time, on target projects, will take the high road if they foresee something in the project that could be a struggle down the road. 

As an example, the facts may show that the project due date can only be realized if all the stars and planets align in a perfect scenario. A vendor who doesn’t consider whether the customer’s due date is realistic is not facing reality and will likely end up pushing the completion date out. 

Are You Speaking the Same Language? 

It’s a good idea to make sure that you and your vendor understand each other. Companies like RedGuard, which specialize in the design and manufacture of blast resistant buildings, are a fairly new addition to the oil and gas industry (when you look at the big picture). These businesses came to be after a catastrophic blast event in 2005. RedGuard has been in the business of keeping folks safe since those early days. Other companies have not. And still, others may have been working with oil and gas companies since that time, but in a different capacity, like engineering. They may have only recently started manufacturing their own blast resistant buildings. 

New vendors and new designs are still common. Unfortunately, with new products, not every design has had the same scrutiny as modular, steel blast buildings. Modular concrete blast-resistant buildings are an example of a fairly recent entry.

With a concept so inherently different, it’s important to know if the language is the same. If a building can be delivered in a matter of weeks, does that mean the same as it does when a steel blast resistant building is delivered? 

A steel modular blast resistant building is modular in every sense of the word. It should arrive onsite requiring only a minimal amount of labor to connect the sections of the building, and be ready for move-in. Most of the electrical, plumbing, and communications should have been installed off-site, before delivery. In fact, you may have even had a chance to do a walk-through of your fully-functioning building during a Factory Acceptance Test. This is a major benefit to off-site modular construction. Does a finished modular concrete building arrive in the same state? Or, does it take additional time on site for many different contractor trades and installers who will still need to continue to access the facility for several more weeks, or even months?

In this scenario, if you were planning on walking into a building that was ready to use on that finish date, that will definitely impede operations. It’s important to know what kind of time is required after the project is delivered. 

An experienced blast resistant building provider should be able to get the date right with minimal need to change or push the date out. If there’s a possibility the delivery timeline can’t be reached that should be disclosed upfront. 

Why Do Some Vendors ‘No-Bid’? 

If a company that you would normally expect to receive a bid from on an RFP “no-bids” the project, it’s important to consider why that might be the case. For the timeline issues already mentioned, some companies will choose not to bid on the project at all, leaving the potential customer wondering why. 

Consider the questions the supplier asked. Companies worth doing business with will have questions because they want to fully understand your RFQ. It’s a good sign when a vendor asks questions. 

As clear as you believe your RFQ is penned, ‘great’ companies, like those mentioned earlier in this post, want to understand the ‘why.’ The best design comes from understanding the intention of the building specifications. If a company doesn’t understand this, but simply tries to sell you their solution, it’s unlikely your needs will be met. 

That company simply trying to make the sale, may be particularly interested in milestones, or the parts of the project that initiate a payment. During the RFP, it’s important to look for a vendor with mechanisms in place that will keep you in touch during each stage of the project. 

Do they provide video walk-throughs or on-site visits? Are they communicative and engaging? If you’ve used them in the past, did you hear from them only when problems arose or when a decision needed to be made? Finding a vendor during your RFP who is open and transparent leading up to and during the quoting process is a great sign that they will also show those traits during the project. 

It all comes down to the company culture mentioned earlier. How does each company describe its company culture? A great company considers the relationship with the customer not just for the current project, but down the road. The goal is to delight.

Start being delighted today and meet with one of our subject matter experts for a consultation before the RFP! 

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Phillip Lange

Phillip Lange

Phillip Lange is the technical sales manager at RedGuard. With his experience working with companies in the oil and energy industry, his specialties include process scheduling, negotiation, budgeting, value engineering, and operations management. He oversees technical engineering services that are offered at RedGuard, like facility siting studies, building retrofits and custom blast-resistant solutions.