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January 08, 2024

Understanding K-12 Bid Management: A Guide to Success in School Foodservice

In the realm of K-12 education, the process of securing contracts and opportunities revolves around a critical mechanism known as bids.

These bids are essentially formal requests for manufacturers to submit proposals to provide specific products or services to schools, districts, or educational institutions.

Understanding K-12 Bids: A Gateway to Educational Opportunities

K-12 bids serve as a gateway to the educational landscape, offering manufacturers the chance to bring their products into grade schools. These bids encompass a wide array of foodservice products and the process typically involves several stages, including the announcement of the bid, proposal submission, evaluation, and contract award.

Let’s jump in to where and how you can help your broker succeed in this space.

Step #1: Meeting the Proper School Nutrition Guidelines

First and foremost, your product(s) need to meet school nutrition guidelines. What are those guidelines? They can be found on the School Nutrition Association’s website. They do get updated from time-to-time so make sure you are staying up-to-date. Note: If your products don’t fulfill those requirements, it doesn’t benefit you or your broker to show them to K-12 operators. Focus on other segments for growth instead. 

Step #2: Bid Pricing

What about pricing? Typically, when it comes to K-12 bids, you will want to have create a K-12 specific pricelist where you can lock in the price for a year. That’s right… A year! Your broker will reference that pricelist when filling out the bids so you don’t have to. 

Now, let’s get in to how your broker can help you in discovering those bids!

Step #3: Exploring Key K-12 Software Solutions

  1. InterFlex: Largest database of K-12 bid information. The system allows your broker to create bids, distribute them directly to you as the manufacturer, and then submit them back electronically.
  2. Processor Link: Processor Link is another noteworthy software solution that addresses the intricate needs of K-12 foodservice. This platform provides a bridge between food manufacturers and schools, facilitating the bid process for procuring high-quality food products. Processor Link streamlines communication, enables efficient order placement, and ensures the seamless delivery of food items to educational institutions.

So let’s say your product satisfies the school nutrition guidelines, it is priced competitively and locked in for a year, and your broker is all set up on the K-12 software… Now what?

Step #4: Processing the Bids

  1. Bids will come via email, they come from customers such as the school districts themselves, co-op’s, and distributors. 
  2. Once the broker receives the bid, they will check the bid line-by-line and see if the client’s they represent are on the bid or if there are product categories that align with their cleintele.
  3. The broker will then write down the name of the school, who sent the bid, and when it is due.
  4. Once that is complete, they will scan again line-by-line to write down eligible products that meet the criteria of the clients; in other words, if they carry that particular item and that size.
  5. From there, the broker will submit the manufacturer’s locked in pricing or send back to the manufacturer for final review and follow up. 
  6. When applicable, you as the manufacturer can deepen the off-invoice for the price. Make sure to base that decision on volume potential.
  7. After retrieving all of the pricing, the broker will send the copy of the bid and the pricing back to who published the bid originally.
  8. If a manufacturer asks about an award on an item for that bid, the broker can look at Interflex and check who received the reward, if it is published there. Usually, the bidding manufacturer can see, or gets copies of the awards themselves.
  9. When it comes to renewal bids, the broker will check for their clients. Many times, they cannot bid any new brands on renewals as the vendor is already in place for that school district and they just want pricing on the items listed.
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