This is part 2 of Nick Drewe’s foray into a domestic eSourcing exercise for his house extension. Nick’s tender has now gone live! You can catch up on part 1 here.
So last Friday evening I hit the button and made my event live. Invitations were sent out to 83 builders in total, although since then I’ve added a further 9 based on recommendations and referrals. I also forgot to include the builders who provided the original quotes, which wasn’t very fair of me, so I’ve rectified that and included them, should they wish to revise their offer.
I must admit, there were mixed feelings of excitement and apprehension about hitting that button. By the time the screen refreshed, 83 builders around Bristol received the invitation from me (we use an email alias on Market Dojo to make the emails come from the user and not from a generic no-reply@ address to ensure any replies make their way back to me). They would also know where I live! However, this is a genuine opportunity, and I am giving everyone an equal chance of winning the business, so I’ve no concerns. I was more intrigued about what would happen next.
In my previous post I stated that I should start ringing round those who were invited in order to maximise participation. Well, another confession here, we were exhibiting at eWorld on Tuesday and so this week I’ve been absolutely swamped and not made a single outbound phone call to them. Thankfully the builders have been much more proactive than me, and even over the course of that very first evening on the Friday, I received 7 registrations, 2 of which proceeded to download the tender documents. I even had my first site visit on the Sunday, all arranged through the Message facility in the software.
I was also informed that three of the participants I invited to the tender had invalid emails, which meant that the software picked up the delivery fail message and flagged it against the participant in question, be it for a full mailbox, unrecognised email address or some other reason. It gave me the chance to find an alternative address for them or, consequently, discover they were no longer in business.
I made the most of my journey back to Bristol from eWorld by using the software on my smartphone, where I sent out some reminders to various categories of participants, i.e.:
- Those who hadn’t responded at all, to which I sent reassurances about the validity of the process, since builders do get a LOT of spam.
- Those who had registered but not accepted the invitation, to which I sent a reminder on what to do.
- And those who had accepted the invite but had not downloaded the documents, to which I also gave some further motivation.
So let me fast forward to where I am as of today, exactly a week after publishing the tender:
I have 92 builders on my list. 84 are still approved to take part, as 5 builders had no capacity until well into 2014, and 3 were no longer in business. Of those 84, 20 are registered and 16 have accepted the invitation. Interestingly 4 of them registered using the Invite Code, which is a unique key that lets people who were not on my original list apply to take part, be it by word of mouth or referral or whatever. I approved their access to my tender having looked through their websites.
14 have downloaded the drawings and I have no fewer than 9 site visits planned over the next few days - there goes my chance of writing thank you letters for our recently received wedding gifts!
I’ve also made an edit to my questionnaire since go-live, as I omitted a rather crucial question of asking whether the builders are VAT-registered. It would be rather hard for me to compare the quotes without this knowledge.
I’ve also had to think about my Lot structure, using market-informed sourcing if you will, in that some builders are experts in loft conversions but not extensions and vice-versa. Therefore I might even be looking to award separately, although again there is feedback that awarding the total job to one outfit has cost advantages. My Lot structure allows for this expression of capability, and so I shall await the market feedback before considering my award position.
Feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive. This approach has helped the builders to have structure and a central place to refer to. Given that IT is not integral to their day job and that in some cases they don’t even have their own computer, it was always going to be a hurdle, especially as I have no time to hand-hold people through the process and nor do they have time to sit at a computer for long periods. But we did design the software on an entirely self-service model and so far, so good.
Stay tuned for part 3 when my hectic weekend of site visits will be concluded and we might even have some competitive quotes in. Fingers crossed!