How to Make Your Bids More Successful

Feb 12, 2020

Bid Season is upon us once again and bidding remains a challenge for most districts. Complying with regulations is important, but hardly your only task; bids need to be carefully structured to ensure you’re getting the items and service that most effectively support your menus and menu cycles.

Here are a few points to consider when preparing your bids and RFP’s:

  1. Distribution: Review the current year successes and challenges. Does the distributor currently stock the item or will it need to be on special order? Are your orders delivered complete and on time? Does the distributor deliver awarded items, or do you get frequent substitutions? These issues can significantly affect your ability to meet your menu's nutritional requirements.


If you are commodity processing (net off invoice), make sure you are getting the values passed through from to your from the distributor. How do they handle damage or shortages?

  1. Products: Try to be specific on the item you put on your bid. If it is not clear you could end up with products that won’t meet your expectations. Many folks list the item they’ve been using or the item they want and include “or equal”. This gives vendors a clear message as to what you really want and then can match items to meet your needs. This will get you competitive pricing for comparable items.

Selecting items that can be used in multiple applications and dayparts can save you time and money by reducing storage/handling costs and making your bid cleaner and easier to manage.Some consider three applications per product as a good goal.

Choose pack sizes that better fit your operation and application. Sometimes bulk pack makes more sense for your applications and usually costs a little less. On other items, multipack is a better fit for your service and can reduce storage and waste.

  1. Vendors: When choosing manufactured items, there are different things to consider. Do they offer a multitude of items or only one or two? Depending on the offerings and the volume your bid, you might want to do a categorical award (item groups) that can make your bid a little more attractive and possibly result in more competitive pricing.If these are specific or limited items you want, you might need to do line-item awards. Does the vendor offer segment tools like nutrition analyzation sheets or commodity calculators?  How about marketing tools, recipes and application suggestions?

When completing your bids and RPFs you will get better results if you identify volume needs as close as you can.This will help distributors and vendors give you a better quote. This also helps for forecasting to help assure the items and quantity will be available when you need them. 

Bidding will always be a challenge, but by carefully identifying your needs ahead of time, you can put your district in a better position to save money—and take some of the hassle out of the process.

  • K-12