Agency management can sometimes get excited when seeing a quarter-page tender in daily papers, particularly if it’s by a large international company. Usually pre qualification of suppliers means that the narrow opening had been created for a different agency to offer and provide services of advertising, creative, media buying and whatever else the case may be.
If the client is someone on the agency’s wish list then the excitement grows even more: is there a possibility that they will pitch, drop their current agency when they see our fabulous ideas, move with us into the blissful and successful future?
Let me tell you one simple thing, derived from twenty-odd years of experience: don’t bother.
Pre-qualification of suppliers is the most bogus process that Ugandan companies engage in. You waste money on printing an ad, all in the name of transparency and giving everyone equal opportunity. Next step is to sell your applicants a copy of your tender document, which on average goes for UGX 50,000 to UGX 100,000, depending on how important the company thinks it is.
You jump through hoops to get the document: visit the client, get the bank account number, queue in the bank to make payment, guard the receipt with your life because without it, you tender submission is invalid, then run to the office excited that you are now allowed to put the document together.
Next step is preparation of documents. If you’re a habitual responder which is a condition bordering to delusional, you will have stuff ready to print: just a quick find & replace to insert proper tenderer’s name in the right places. If not, then pick, un-frame, scan, look through files, pull out docs, put together samples and examples, the whole drama!
Then you remember: Income Tax Clearance Certificate! Run to URA, beg and plead, come tomorrow or two days after, beg and plead some more… Finally, Certificate in hand, you are binding one original and three copies of your agency’s life, ready for MD’s signature: all packed into sealed and patiently, correctly addressed envelopes, dashing on a boda to deliver to the client before the tender deadline.
Phew! Just in time.
What happens next is a total anticlimax, considering the drama, the excitement, the passion with which the agency team approached the tender document preparation.
Two weeks go by in silence.
Four weeks pass.
Six weeks later, you send an inquiry. They respond. You shiver in anticipation before you open that e-mail that pretty much reads: “Thank you for your inquiry, we shall get back to you.”
Three months. You write again. This time no answer.
Eventually a letter comes in telling you that you are now prequalified for the current financial year, which lapses in two months.
You look at the letter and think to yourself: “This, is not possible.”
The trash bin next to your desk smiles hungrily.
My conclusion: don’t be a part of an idle process. If someone has to complete a certain form in order to satisfy their compliance committee – don’t help them. Agency-Client relationships are built over time; cherish the ones you have and invest agency energies into creating outstanding work for your existing clients. That will be your best investment.