For some types of solicitations for goods or services a pre-bid meeting or conference will be held. These meetings are part of the procurement process and are held after the bid notification – either in the form of an Invitation for Bid (IFB) or Request for Proposal (RFP) – is issued. Within the bid notice, interested vendors will be given the date, time and place at which the pre-bid meeting will be held.
The purpose of the pre-bid meeting is to help vendors gain a better understanding of the bid documents, scope of work, and any requirements needed to be considered for the job. Here you will be able to ask questions to get clarification on anything about the solicitation and bid documents. Most agencies will conduct some type of presentation to clarify what they require and to gain a better understanding about certain aspects of the job from the vendors if the solicitation happens to be for an RFP. After the meeting, any vendors who showed interest in the bid by downloading, buying, or picking up the bid documents will receive a summary with all the information covered at the meeting, including answers to any questions vendors may have had.
Keep in mind that some pre-bid meetings or conferences are mandatory, so you must attend to be able to submit a proposal. These meetings also happen to be a good opportunity to network and promote your business, so it is a good idea to be prepared and bring with you information about you and your business, like business cards, brochures, pamphlets, etc.
There are some solicitations that do require site visits, although these are more often associated with construction projects. Some site visits are in correlation with the pre-bid meetings and will most likely be held beforehand. Again, keep in mind that there are sometimes mandatory site visits, this means you or someone from your company must attend and sign in to submit a proposal. Some government agencies will even hand out the bid documents/scope of work right then and there. You don’t want to miss mandatory site visits because you may not be able to obtain the documents if you can’t prove you or someone from your company attended. You also can’t rely on a colleague within your industry to pick up the documents for you or ask them for a copy if they attended the site visit. Agencies do require a signature and you must provide your business’s information, and agencies are likely to check this information to determine whether you are allowed to submit a bid.
The main purpose of the site visit is to allow vendors to see where the work will be completed and what the area looks like. These visits give you a better idea of what type of resources you may need or how many workers will be necessary to complete the job. Like pre-bid meetings, site visits allow vendors to get clarification on the scope of work. Here, someone from the agency will explain in detail what the required work is, the timeframe in which they expect the work to be completed and what specific items they require to be used, for example when installing smoke alarms/detectors, HVAC systems, appliances, etc.
How to Find Out About Pre-Bid Meetings & Site Visits
As mentioned above, the pre-bid meetings and site visits will be mentioned in the bid notifications with the date, time and place. Another way to find out about these meetings and keep track of them is by subscribing to a bid intelligence service like bidnet direct, vendors who are subscribed will receive email notifications of open solicitations available to bid on that matches your profile based on keywords and category and service codes, once you click on the opportunity you’re interested in you will be able to view all of the bid documents and any other pertinent information about the bid, like pre-bid meetings and site visits. You will also see this information if you conduct any separate searches for related bid opportunities on the bidnet direct website.