Procuring your service
Ensuring that you are spending your money wisely is an important part of operating and running a service. Procurement is about being clear about what you are asking for and getting best value for money when buying in a service from an outside organisation. For example, you may have decided that the best solution to your parishes transport needs is a shopper service that you will ask the local CVS to operate on your behalf or a taxishare service which you will pay a local taxi or private hire operator to run.
Firstly you need to draw up your service specification. This document is simply a list of your requirements and expectations from your potential operator. This specification can become your ‘contract’ once you decide on your operator. Try to include the following information;
- A brief summary of your service, what is it trying to achieve?
- How long you anticipate the service running, is it a trial? If so how long? What date do you anticipate it starting
- What size vehicle(s) you would like, should it be wheelchair accessible?
- Where passengers will be picked up/dropped off
- The timetable (if your service has one) including the days you would like your service to operate and the days in which it will not operate e.g. public holidays
- How the bookings process will work e.g. who will take bookings, who’s number will you advertise
- Fare information e.g. how much will you charge passengers, will the operator keep the fares or pass them back to you
- How/when you would like the operator to invoice you
- What information you will require them to provide you for monitoring purposes e.g. number of passengers travelling, fares collected etc.
- Any other requirements you may have
If you are simply contracting your local CVS to run a service on your behalf this is all you will need to do. If you are dealing with a private organisation, for example a commercial minibus operator or taxi/private hire operators it is best to tender your service.
Tendering your service
Tendering is the process of getting more than one quote for operating the same service. This ensures that you get the best value for money possible. This is a simple process and does not have to be time consuming. Once you have drafted your specification you can give it to as many operators as you wish to give them the opportunity to submit a price for the service. How you ask for this is entirely up to you, for example you could ask for a price per run or per day or per mile. It may be easier to come up with a simple form for operators to fill in and sign/date.
Once you have selected your operator from those interested you may want to meet with them and go through some finer details. For example, what happens if the vehicle breaks down, if they are a ‘one man band’ how will the service run when they are on holiday or sick? The better a relationship you establish with your operator, the more efficient the service will be.
Where to get further advice
Community and Social Care Transport Team
Economy, Transport and Environment Department
Hampshire County Council
Telephone: 01962 846785