Follow These ‘Best Practices’ to Find the Best Fleet Industry Marketing Firm

Adopting “best practices” in selecting any vendor can assure significant benefits and added value in the operation of the business. That’s especially true in partnering with a marketing team to support the branding and marketing of fleet industry products and services.

First and foremost, any business looking for marketing services must choose a vendor whose culture and values align with its own ethos and business practices. Marketing service providers that bring fleet-specific experience, proven performance, service excellence, customer satisfaction, and a record of innovation increase the likelihood of a mutually beneficial relationship, speed, and success.

When done correctly, the vendor selection process must be comprehensive, with a thorough evaluation of key performance indicators that can weed out some vendors and later serve as relationship performance metrics.

Despite a common misperception among non-purchasing managers, vendor selection concerns more than price. Some of the common vendor selection questions to ask include:

  • What is a vendor’s record of system and professional investments?
  • What is the vendor’s record of performance, quantitative and qualitative?
  • How do customers perceive the vendor, current and past?
  • How does a vendor’s position and reputation compare to the competition?  
  • How can the vendor positively impact the business’s return on investment?

The RFP Process

The Request for Proposal (RFP) process offers several advantages when selecting a vendor. It forces a business to provide explicit information about needs and expectations so vendors can pitch pertinent services.

An RFP process is the best way to ensure an apples-to-apples comparison of each vendor, each service provided, any relevant skills, and the experience brought to bear in servicing the account. It ensures an unbiased vendor selection effort that is data-based, strategic, and thoughtful. It helps quantify short- and long-term benefits and can lead to more competitive bids.

RFPs communicate your needs and expectations so that vendors can pitch their ability to meet them. Setting the criteria at the start lets a company evaluate potential suppliers based on each listed item and ensures recognition of the essential requirements. At the same time, a company needs to identify which criteria are flexible and must-haves.

Setting Selection Criteria

When creating a Request for Proposal (RFP) for marketing services, several vital criteria and components need to be incorporated:

  • Project Background and Goals: Clearly define your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and goals.
  • Scope of Work: Provide a detailed scope of work.
  • Budget: Disclose your budget.
  • RFP Timeline and Vendor Deadlines: Specify the RFP process timeline and vendors’ deadlines.
  • RFP Requirements: Include minimum qualifications as well as submission and evaluation criteria.
  • References, Project Portfolios, and Case Studies: Request for references, project portfolios, and case studies.
  • Technical Capabilities: Evaluate the technical capabilities of the vendor.
  • Vendor Experience: Consider the vendor’s experience in the field.
  • Vendor Approach: Understand the vendor’s approach to the project.
  • Total Price & Breakout: Consider the total price quoted by the vendor with an unbundled breakout of costs by service.
  • Customer Success Practices: Evaluate the vendor’s customer success practices.
  • Reputation and Customer References: Check the vendor’s reputation and customer references.

Suppliers in every industry operate differently, so there’s always the chance you won’t be able to find a marketing service or product supplier that perfectly checks every box. Know which traits are dealbreakers and which are expendable to help you quickly separate the wheat from the chaff.

The key to a productive marketing services RFP is clarity. Be clear about the goals and define the specific KPIs and SLAs. The more accurate and complete the RFP, the more likely vendors will respond in kind.

Whether employing an RFP or pursuing a less formal method, “best practices” in selecting a vendor begin with developing a list of criteria the vendor will need to meet.

The right suppliers can transform an organization’s performance. Companies that rely on the best strategic partners have been shown to generate significant competitive advantages. A cutting-edge vendor can help companies differentiate their products and boost their market share.

In a changing economy where product and service lifespans are getting shorter, fleet industry suppliers need the ability to rapidly identify and onboard new, more flexible supplier partners who understand the specific market conditions.

With all bids in hand, the business must compare each supplier’s RFP to determine which meets the defined budget needs and quality standards. A vendor that overcharges cuts into the profit margin. However, a vendor that misses deadlines, or whose quality does not meet expectations, also negatively impacts ROI.

In most cases, a chosen vendor decision is only the beginning of negotiating the contract terms. Agreed-upon projects, the vendor account team, tactical timeframes, KPIs and SLAs, and more must be put into writing. If this process drags on, a short-term contract or a specific tactical pilot program might become an intermediate step.

Monitor Supplier Performance

Establishing KPIs and SLAs sets up an early-warning system for under-achievement by a vendor. Use this data to work with the vendor to improve processes and quality. If that fails, termination of the contract can alleviate a drawn-out unsatisfactory relationship and speed up hiring a new, better vendor.

Monitor cost efficiency over time. Just because the deal you negotiated a year ago was good doesn’t mean it’s a good one now. Be candid with the vendor about changing needs and performance metrics. Most vendors will be willing to work with a business to re-negotiate a deal that satisfies both parties.

Learn more about “best practices” that should be adopted to find the best fleet industry marketing vendor for your business targeting the fleet industry; reach out to the only fleet-specific marketing team, Fleet Management Weekly’s Brand Acceleration, by clicking here or calling Ed Pierce at (484) 957-1246.