Advice on soliciting bids on equipment

Soliciting bids on equipment doesn’t have to be a daunting process. In fact, someone may have already done much of the work for you. Many state, local and regional contracts allow other buyers to “piggyback” on them to make purchases, which can make procurement simpler and easier. And with recent cutbacks in labor — not to mention the work involved in the bid process — public procurement departments are embracing the use of existing contracts now more than ever.

Why Use Purchasing Contracts?

The reason behind government contracts is simple: time, convenience and leveraging buying power. They streamline the procurement process. Here are a few advantages of buying off an existing contract:

  • Avoid duplication of effort. Rather than having to get bids every time you need to make a purchase, you can just use the contract number and buy the item. The sources, pricing and terms have already been vetted.
  • They’re often good for multiple years. Most state contracts are multi-year agreements, so purchases don’t have to be rebid for several years.
  • They shorten your cycle time. If you’re approaching the end of a fiscal year with budget dollars to spend, an existing contract lets you buy equipment quickly so you can be invoiced and take delivery on time.
  • You can buy exactly what you need. Existing contracts let you buy the specific product you have determined is the best value for your needs instead of settling for a product that met generic bid specifications but may not last or perform as well.

Who Can Use Contracts

Depending on your local legislation and the terms of the agreement, you may be able to take advantage of a contract from another state or municipality. State contracts are usually set up to allow any tax-supported entity within the state to utilize the contract — not just the agency or department that holds the agreement. In addition, there are several national cooperative purchasing organizations, such as the National IPA, TCPN or WSCA-NASPO that work with cities, counties, states, educational institutions, nonprofits and more. Some of these organizations allow other entities to use their contracts if they join the cooperative.

A manufacturer or supplier may have multiple contracts with different agencies and organizations, so it’s up to you to review what’s available and determine which contract is the best fit with your criteria for a well-competed process.

Getting Started

You can determine what products offer you the best value and ask your local distributor what contracts are available. Many cooperatives’ websites post the solicitation documents, so you can view the Request for Proposal, the criteria for awarding the contract, if there was a best and final offer, and other details.

In addition, be sure to look at what the price includes. Does it include setup and delivery? Are there any volume incentives in the contract? Does it offer financing? Service contracts? Used equipment?

You should also check if you have used that cooperative before to buy other products, such as office supplies. If so, you may not have to re-vet the contract — another step saved.

If you’re looking to use a contract to buy Toro® turf equipment, call your local distributor to find out what contracts are available. Toro currently has cooperative contracts with organizations including the National IPA (Intergovernmental Purchasing Alliance), TCPN (The Cooperative Purchasing Network) and WSCA-NASPO (the Western States Contracting Alliance/National Association of State Procurement Officials).

Toro also has many state, local and regional purchasing agreements, so contact your local Toro distributor for more information or visit to find out more.