In today’s world of tight budgets and lean staffing, it is imperative that procurement agencies make the most of their grounds maintenance budgets with reliable equipment at reasonable costs. Procurement managers know that requests for proposals (RFP) are time consuming to issue and review, and simply negotiating your best deal is not how government works.
That’s where cooperative buying has a place in a grounds or roadside maintenance department. Generally speaking, purchases in these departments are bigger ticket items that can be a budget buster if you’re not mindful of the process.
By using cooperative buying, procurement managers for grounds maintenance departments looking to purchase a rotary cutter, a seeder or a wide area mower can spend less time soliciting bids and more time actually doing the tasks associated with grounds maintenance. Many states and many more cities, counties and municipalities see that value and are utilizing a cooperative purchasing agency to maximize their time and their dollars.
How does it work?
A cooperative purchasing model allows a manufacturer like Land Pride to respond to an RFP that covers a large group of buyers, and it allows a large group of buyers with similar interests to leverage their buying power to get government discounts on products. By using a cooperative model, government agencies save time and effort because the process is simplified for the seller and buyer to their mutual benefit.
A prime example of how cooperative purchasing works involved a state department of transportation that worked with Land Pride on a recent purchase. The fleet manager inquired how Land Pride could help supply rotary cutters for their roadside maintenance. He was looking for a solution that saved him time and money while still getting the brand that he and his crew wanted. Land Pride suggested using the competitively bid Sourcewell cooperative-buying contract that Land Pride was awarded — using that contract would simplify the buying process.
In a matter of days, Land Pride quoted the contract price on the rotary cutters that the manager wanted. The contract price was bid competitively, reviewed and awarded in very much the same way a procurement manager would do. Once awarded, this state agency was able to request a quote following the discounts as outlined in the Sourcewell contract. The state reviewed the quotes and issued purchase orders, and Land Pride built, shipped and invoiced the state. Within a few weeks, the process was complete.
Why cooperative buying?
Once a manufacturer like Land Pride responds to an RFP and is awarded a contract by a designated public agency, members that the cooperative represents can purchase any number of products at a substantial discount. Not every state, city or county has a need for a fleet of folding rotary cutters for roadside mowing, and that’s OK. Many times, the manufacturer has the ability to offer their complete product line on the contract. In the case of Land Pride, that’s over 500 products that can be purchased by member agencies across the United States.
And cooperative buying is not just for states, cities and counties. With education budgets in many areas shrinking fast, cooperative buying can stretch dollars farther — for that reason, many school districts participate, too. The BuyBoard is a cooperative located in Texas and has a large number of schools and universities as members. For them, Land Pride’s BuyBoard contract has been very beneficial.
An example of how cooperative buying helps schools can be found in one Texas school district that contacted Land Pride in need of an overseeder and core aerator to care for their sports fields. After talking to the grounds maintenance manager, Land Pride recommended an all-purpose seeder because there would be times that they would be seeding new turf as well as overseeding existing turf. The district was grateful for the direction in the buying process, was very pleased with the price and had both pieces of equipment for use in their fall maintenance program.
Enhanced customer service is one thing that sets cooperative buying apart from the traditional bid process. When soliciting bids, a decision on the equipment that will be purchased has been made. Sometimes that may not be the best solution for the task.
A municipal golf course approached Land Pride for a contract price on a commercial zero-turn mower for fairway maintenance. Being a return customer, Land Pride knew that the golf course owned a compact tractor and suggested that a Land Pride All-Flex Mower would cut their fairway and cut their mowing time. After reviewing the quote, the superintendent realized that the AFM4211 was indeed the way to go. A purchase order was issued, and they soon had their mower at a substantial discount.
Cooperative buying has options
There are many cooperative buying groups that government agencies can be a part of. Land Pride offers contracts with several — Sourcewell, Omnia and BuyBoard are a few — but with so many cooperative contracts available, buyers can choose the one that best meets their buying needs.
Organizations like Sourcewell and the BuyBoard make sure everything is transparent. They maintain all of the paperwork, and they are solicited, evaluated and awarded by a public agency that is bound by laws regulating the process. Everything is available for public review. Buyers will have to do their homework, but they can certainly be confident that manufacturers like Land Pride are here to help with the process.