By Glacial Wood / January 25, 2016

Your Design Project’s Timeline: Vendor Selection

You did it. You got the bid. Now it’s time to set the wheels in motion to move from the yes to project completion. And, as an interior designer or project manager, you know you can’t complete that mission without the service or talents of numerous other people along the way. Don’t know where to begin? I’ll show you some simple steps in your vendor or contractor process.

DEFINE YOUR NEEDS & IDENTIFY POTENTIAL CONTRACTORS

Organize your needs – or at least at some high-level – so you can clearly communicate with potential vendors what your needs are. You’ve already defined your budget, and your project’s timeline parameters have likely been established, too. The more information you can gather the better. Your goal during this phase of vendor selection is to judge what they can do for you against what you really need them to do, and make sure there’s a good match.

When you’re confident you can easily show someone else the scope of your project as well as communicate the intrinsic details of the project as a whole, it’s time to do your research. Identify which organizations seem to do the best job in supplying what you need. Examine your list of potential vendors, and analyze their websites to drill down to the core of who they are. If this sounds like a step that can be skipped, consider just how integral this company, person, or service is to your project’s bottom line. Why wouldn’t you want to garner as much information on them as possible?

HAVE THE HARD CONVERSATION

Naturally, you’ll want to gather a pool of candidates for your contractor or vendor selection. Once you have your data, start the conversations. Introduce yourself and whom you represent. Summarize your business need, and outline your proposed date/time for fulfillment. These initial conversations will give you insight into a few things – what details you may be missing, and which vendors or contractors just are not a fit. They might have an offering that is somewhere in your ballpark, but based on either price or specifics of service, they’re just not going to be able to meet your needs.

Conducting your due diligence on your list of potential vendors or contractors is part of the competitive process. Maybe one of the contacts on your list you really wanted to make work, based off an existing relationship, a referral, or just a gut feeling. Having the conversation and eliminating them based on your findings is just part of the process, and an expectation everyone has to some degree.

YOUR CONTRACTOR PARTNER

Once you’ve selected your vendor or contractor partner(s), enter into the specific service agreement proprietary to you or your company with each representing party. Re-establish the outline for the project, and what deliverables will be included, and when they’ll occur. Create purchase orders, assign tasks, bill your client, and track the project’s progress along the way. Working with reputable, passionate, and knowledgeable contractors or vendors is the key to the success of your project, which your client is counting on.

The relationships you’ll make with the people involved in your project are yours to keep. Repeating the vendor selection process over and over again in your industry is tiresome, time consuming, and an easy task to avoid (or at least reduce the process) through your network of professionals. And remember, your vendor or contractor partner choose to work with you, too, on behalf of your client, so they’re thinking the same thing about this process as you are. You’ll be vetted for accuracy, communication style, reliability, professionalism, and reputation. Choose wisely. Work hard. And cherish the relationships you make along the way because they are so valuable.

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