Though we have seen a shift to more electronic proposal submissions in the last few years, either via upload or email, many procurements still require a good ol’ fashioned printed hard copy. Being classic proposal managers, we can appreciate seeing our labor of love come to life in material form—even so, the logistics of proposal shipping cannot be minimized. Throughout the years we have learned many (read: too many) lessons when it comes to planning ahead and creating a back-up plan or two when it comes to final proposal delivery. In an effort to save you the headache/heartache, we have summarized our tried and true proposal shipping and delivery tips below.
Here are some tips to help you guarantee your proposal is submitted on time:
Ship two days in advance, but still use overnight service. Regardless of whether your proposal is due at 10:00 am or 2:00 pm, giving yourself a buffer day will pay dividends if a minor issue threatens to delay your proposal by even a few hours. We heart FedEx. We show our love by shipping every proposal via FedEx. We have found them to be the most reliable for most locations and procurement agencies.
Ship two carriers. If you absolutely cannot ship two days in advance, build in an automatic back-up plan by shipping with two different companies. We recommend FedEx AND UPS. We generally ship our priority set via FedEx with a back-up set via UPS. Once we see FedEx has successfully delivered the proposal, we try to stop or reroute delivery of the back-up (UPS) set. If the back-up set is also delivered, we contact the procurement agency and request the extra set be returned to the sender or destroyed. Typically, the back-up set is returned and makes a great set of office copies!
Always check overnight shipping times—no matter how many times you’ve shipped! While most FedEx deliveries are guaranteed by 10:30 am the next business day, there are exceptions! Many remote or highly secure areas will have later guaranteed times (some as late as 4:30 pm) which can really elevate your blood pressure if you don’t plan ahead.
Know local drop-off times. While we’ve rushed many proposals to the airport shipping hub, it is typically more convenient and easier to drop-off at a local shipping location. Pick-up times can vary from late afternoon (~3:00 pm) to early evening (~6:00 pm) depending on your time zone and distance to the airport. We recommend knowing the local options and latest pick-up time to avoid harried trips to the airport.
Earlier is NOT always better. One common mistake that we see is falling into the theory that shipping for early morning delivery will be safer. By selecting the first overnight option (typically guaranteed to be delivered by 8:30 am), there is a substantial risk that your proposal submission may reach its destination before operating hours. If this occurs, your package will likely stay on the truck with another delivery attempted later in the day or (gasp) the next day! If you are determined to ship using early morning service, we recommend calling ahead to confirm someone will be available to accept the package.
Know the shipping route and watch the weather. From years of experience, we have determined that most FedEx shipments are routed through the Memphis, TN hub. The exception would be packages that are shipped to a destination nearby the origination location which may be routed through other hubs such as Miami, Dallas, Indianapolis and Oakland. For example, when we ship packages out of Salt Lake City to a West Coast location, our packages are generally routed through the Oakland, CA hub. As shipping day nears, we suggest checking weather patterns to identify inclement conditions along the shipping route and then plan accordingly to minimize the impact of these delays.
Watch tracking updates. We typically monitor package tracking several times throughout the evening to ensure the shipment is tracking as planned. It gives us comfort to see it was safely picked up, transported to a sorting facility and on its way through the wild blue yonder. While this may seem a little OCD, staying on top of package progress gives us early insight to the need for back-up plans. We can jump into action immediately instead of waiting for a delivery exception the next morning telling us that our package was never picked up from the original drop-off location.
In-person delivery. If shipping is not an option, in-person delivery becomes a necessity. If in-person delivery requires booking an airline ticket, we highly recommend using the carry-on option for the proposal package. That said, it is important to plan ahead with box sizes/luggage that can fit in overhead bins to the greatest extent possible. If you must check the proposal package, opt for direct flights to minimize the risk of additional variables such as missed connections, layover delays and human error.
Still nervous about meeting the proposal submission deadline? Contact Meridian West today. We're experts on getting proposals submitted on time and we'd be happy to help!