There are some 1,300 colleges and over 26,000 high schools in the United States who acquire sports medicine supplies and equipment, almost every year. A high percentage of those institutions submit bid requests to various distributors all within a 60-90 day window each spring. To service all of those schools there are about 8-10 distributors nationally who truly focus on sports medicine as a business segment. That means there is competition for limited resources and it will work to your advantage to prepare your bid so it can be completed easily and returned accurately.
After 28+ years of work in Sports Medicine distriubtion, including thousands of bids returned - I have a few suggestions for new school Athletic Trainers that are preparing to order for perhaps the first time - or who may be interested in refining their process.
- Include a due date - Requesting a due date places a priority order on your bid request and bidders will honor that. If you don't use a due date it's first come first serve and you might wait awhile during busy bid seasons.
- Include estimated quantities - An estimate of quantities is extremely important for insuring you get the best price and freight is estimated appropriately. If you don't include estimated quantities, you're not as likely to receive "best pricing".
- Specify model numbers - The gold standard for model numbers are the manufacturer part numbers (sometimes called SKUs for "Stock Keeping Units"). While most distributors prefer to use our own product numbers, we're all happy to work with manufacturer part numbers and most of us are even accustomed to our competitor item numbers as well. Whatever format you use, if you specify product numbers we can return your bid more quickly and with a much greater degree of accuracy. Little industry secret here - most of us have our competitors item numbers programmed into our own systems anyway.
- Use detailed descriptions - the more information you can provide in the description, the greater degree of accuracy you can expect on the bid response. Include details like sizing and colors as this can sometimes make a difference in your bid price.
- List name brands - If you include a column of name brands with your product listing, we'll be better able to identiy your products and bid appropriately.
- Use of the term No SUB - if there are products that you're not willing to accept substitutions or alternates on, simply writing NO SUBS in the description and this insure you don't get alternate suggestions.
- Ask for suggestions - If you're not brand loyal on some products, ask for suggestions. Many bidders will have ideas for how you can get comparable quality products and save you some money along the way. If you ask, they'll be more at liberty to share those suggestions.
- Specify who is to be responsible for freight - FOB Destination means Freight on Board to the destination ... in this case, the distributor/manufacturer is paying freight. FOB Source (where source could be the name of the town where the distributor or manufacturer is) means you as the customer is paying freight. Free freight is a bit of a misnomer as someone is always paying freight - it's best to know who so there is no confusion when you receive your invoices.
- Print your name and return information on your bid - Your name and your email address should appear on the bid so that once it's printed that information is readily displayed and the bidder can readily see who to return it to. It's not unheard of for a bid to be printed and then found to be difficult to identify when a bidder gets to it a couple of days later.
- Include your delivery address - It's always important to include your delivery address so freight can be estimated properly, especially for bulky items.
Here is an Example of a Bid Sheet that contains information your distributor reps will be thrilled to receive.
You can download a copy of this sheet at this link.
Good luck preparing your next bid and we hope this article has been helpful toward your efforts!
Senior Vice President of Marketing & Clinical Education
MioGuard Sports Medicine (formerly Miotech Sports Medicine)
- Sales and Specials
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