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The Collaborative Selection Process
Submitted by: Maggie Stefanek, RD, LD
Innovative Hospitality Solutions, Inc.

The Request for Proposal Process Make Over

The basis for any successful relationship is genuine trust, frequent communication and goal alignment.

Many corporations, school systems, colleges/universities, and healthcare facilities embark upon a Request for Proposal (RFP) process to identify a partner who is capable of managing their services that are not core to their primary business. Foodservice is often the primary subject matter for many RFP processes.

Question: How does a company identify a strategic partner who will build a relationship by being transparent, aligning business goals, as well as communicating frequently and effectively in order to create innovative and financially desirable results?

Answer: Conduct a Collaborative Operator Selection Process instead of a tradional RFP process.

Why?: The Collaborative Operator Selection Process provides multiple quality touch points between the prospective Operators and Core Business Stakeholders (“Client”). This creates an environment conducive to sharing cultural values, vision statements and goals, verbalizing pain points for resolution, as well as detailing expected outcomes. Complete transparency is encouraged throughout the entire process to ensure that the beginning of a healthy strategic relationship is the foundation of the final award decision.

How does it work?: A comparison of the traditional RFP Process versus the Collaborative Operator Selection Process is listed below. The orange highlighted areas indicate the modified activities and sequencing of this more efficient process, as compared to the traditional RFP Process. 

*** Change of method and practice from the traditional RFP process allowing for a more collaborative and efficient approach

The major RFP process changes are:

1) Collaborative Visioning Sessions replace mandatory Pre-bid meetings.

2) Reference checks are performed earlier in the process as part of the (Request for Information) RFI phase.

3) The Scope of Work in the Request for Proposal (RFP) document is very specific, addressing the current areas of opportunity.

4)  Operator visits to the Client site(s) are followed by collaborative work sessions.

5) The RFP document is shortened, allowing for succinct Operators’ submittals and a streamlined evaluation process by the Client and Stakeholders.

6) The two finalists comprise the short list negating the need for a double elimination process.

The Collaborative Selection Process has been successfully conducted at numerous locations across multiple industry segments. Clients and Operators have commented on the value of this process. The Clients are grateful for being able to share their vision for future operations, noting current strengths/successes of the program as well as areas for improvement. The Operators are able to actively listen, ask questions, and prepare a response to the SOW document that is customized to meet or even exceed the needs of the Client. There is no longer any need for boilerplate language and graphics.

A significant win for both the Client and the Operator is the accuracy of financial projections that are realistic and achievable.

The evolution of the traditional RFP approach to the Collaborative Operator Selection Process is positively changing Client and Operator business relationships, one contract at a time.