RFP Evaluations Go Both Ways

I’m always interested in what others have to say about the staffing industry and what I can learn to make me a better staffing firm owner and ATR International a better staffing provider. Two recent articles by Staffing Industry Analysts’ Bryan Peña, VP of contingent workforce strategies and research, caught my attention. Peña’s  columns echo thoughts and opinions that I have previously shared in Staffing 360.

In this particular column, Supplier-Client Relationships are a Two-Way Street, Peña explores the word “partnership,” which he calls “misused.” He defines true partnership “as the joining of separate groups working together for some unified purpose” and says in the staffing industry it must include “contracts [that] are clear with appropriate incentives for all parties — buyer and supplier — to perform.” What’s clear is that a true partnership cannot exist without a good working relationship. My experience has been the same  — the best CW programs are those that have processes and policies that allow appropriate communication, encourage relationship development and practice fair and equitable pricing and contract negotiations.

Peña makes what might seem like a bold suggestion, asking “the supplier community to be careful before accepting any new client.” It might seem counterintuitive — isn’t any business good business? — but I agree wholeheartedly with what he preaches. I see the RFP process as a chance for both client and staffing supplier to evaluate each other and determine if the fit is good for both parties. ATR has declined to make recommendations at various stages of the process when it becomes apparent that the culture and policies of the prospective or sometimes existing client are not in line with ours and do not provide a real chance at success. Pena advises suppliers not to “agree to clauses that could render them bankrupt down the road.” I’ve seen other staffing firms agreeing to pricing levels that are unsustainable just to get the work. I don’t know what happens down the road in these instances, but the advice in this column leads me to think I’ve done the right thing.

I understand that CW program managers are all working under tremendous pressure, the budgets and headcounts are tighter than ever before and personnel management is as challenging as it’s ever been. I also know that staffing providers are challenged as well trying to deliver top quality talent at reasonable rates while still making a profit. No one sets out to deliberately be parsimonious or ruinous to another’s bottom line — everyone just wants the best price and service. We are all, between our business and personal lives, both customers and suppliers many times a day. If we always remember a little of what it’s like to be in the other’s shoes, we can hopefully develop mutually beneficial working relationships that provide both with a good experience. This is what Peña’s ultimate goal is in giving his advice and I am happy to “partner” with him on that.

Jerry Brenholz

Jerry Brenholz
Jerry Brenholz is president & CEO of ATR International, a firm that specializes in providing IT consultants and enterprise-wide staffing services.

Jerry Brenholz

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