Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Phone calls

I work for a company that solicits bids for work. We do the big part and hire subcontractors to do certain parts of it. The state requires that a certain number of them are minorities. So every time we want to bid on a project, we have to go through a HUGE DB that the state maintains, winnow it down the to ones that we can use and send them a bid invitation. There are usually around 250 or so. Until now, we were required to fax them so that we can track it and prove that we did so. I can send them out in batches of 30 or so and print a log to see which ones went through, which ones didn't for one reason or another. I have to try to send those again, check codes, etc. Then I have to call those and see if there is a better fax number or an alternative way to do it. They are REQUIRED by the state to reply yes or no. It states so on the bid request AND gives the state citation. If I am lucky, I get a 10% return. If I am lucky. I am not lucky. After I spend 2 days sending out faxes, I give them 3 days to reply. The ones that don't reply get a phone call, asking them if they want money from us. In order to show 'good faith effort', I have to call them. Twice. I have to attempt to contact these people a total of THREE times to see if they want us to throw money at them. If I am lucky, I fax them once, then make one phone call.

As I said, I am not lucky. (sigh) I send out 250 faxes, then I make roughly 200 phone calls, usually leaving a voice mail. Then I have to make at least 160 other phone calls as most of them will not call me back. I leave voice mails, pleading with the people to call me back. I have to explain to people who are annoyed that I am calling that YOU registered with the state as a minority business. If you had read the paperwork, you would see that when we invite you to bid on a project, you are REQUIRED to reply. That means that you read the fax, decide if you want to bid or not, check YES or NO on the little box and fax it back. It takes about a minute, depending on how fast you read. It's made REALLY clear on the invitation.

a) You are not allowed to yell at me and tell me that you are on the No Call list. This does not fall under the No Call list. I am not asking for your money. I am TRYING to give you money. I am trying to give you an opportunity to MAKE money for your business.

b) You are not allowed to tell me "well, if we fax it back, we are going to bid. If we don't fax it back, we are not." It doesn't work that way. I am contacting 250 people and can't keep track of all that. Wait, I can keep track of it but I refuse to do it. You've had half a dozen people contact you. I have 250. You have an agreement with the state that you will reply. Pretty simple.

c) You are not allowed to register, then have an answering machine message that can only be understood by another speaker of that language. You want to work in the US and access the tax money which pays for these jobs, then you'd better leave a message that I can understand. I have the power to funnel tens of thousands of dollars your way. It is in your best interest to have a message in English.

d) Please do not tell me that you cannot bid for one reason or another. Yes or no, that's all I need.

Oh yeah, both sets of calls have to be made by the end of the week. I have about 3 days to make the calls after the initial 3 days is up.

I also have to document the date that I made the first call, second call and their answer. Fortunately, I can get all this on a spreadsheet. Next project I will get to do it all via email. BUT, I have to request a 'read' receipt on all of them. I will have to print out 250 emails with the company names somewhere on it. The good news is that after I get the 250 email addresses entered, I can sort through them and leave out the ones that I do not need for that project and enter any new ones that I need. Honestly, this will be easier. I might add or leave out a few each time, but it will be a LOT easier. And faster.

IT will not let me have a folder on the server to save all this. When I am finished, I can zip all the documents into a folder and save it on my HD. I'm not even allowed a zipped folder on the server. I think IT hates me. (sigh)

1 comment:

  1. It is posts like this that remind me how much I hated my customer service days~ medical insurance~blah! :)


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