Guidelines for hosting a Lift Vendor Fair
Are you contemplating
hosting a vendor fair
for lift equipment suppliers?
Selection of a lift vendor commits you to a long-term relationship. That’s because in addition to equipment, your supplier will be asked to provide a host of associated services and support over the lifetime of the brand you select. Of importance, patient lifts are the assistive equipment your staff will use on a daily basis to protect patients and caregivers against needless manual handling injuries. The bottom line: Vendor Fairs are serious business.
- During the process of hosting a vendor fair, it’s important to evaluate not only the equipment itself but also the vendor’s capabilities in areas such as local service/support, application consulting, training credentials, installation flexibility, safe lifting program support, financial stability, market presence, and safety track record.
- While vendor fairs can be very useful is evaluating prospective candidates, in general they will not be successful unless you adopt a structured, pre-agreed approach. In other words, it’s imperative to establish fair evaluation criteria, adhere to time limits, and communicate with all vendors in an equitable manner.
Following are some suggested actions to consider:
Appoint a committee
Before you invite employees from your general population to attend a vendor fair, you should first appoint a committee and assign it the task of “pre-screening” vendors for participation. The screening process should narrow down the list of eligible candidates based on the capabilities outlined above. Be sure to include committee members or delegates from each of the following departments to participate in the overall vendor evaluation: Nursing, PT/OT, Safety or HR, Administration, Materials Management, Facilities, and Risk Management.
Identify a chairperson or champion
A chairperson should be chosen from among the committee members to guide the process from beginning to end. The chairperson may choose to delegate responsibility for planning meetings, developing questionnaires, compiling results, and preparing follow-up. Ideally the chairperson will also summarize the consensus of committee members and will present a final recommendation to management.
Decide on evaluation criteria
Your committee needs to decide which specific equipment features and vendor and characteristics are important for them to evaluate. You may even want to incorporate these characteristics into an evaluation tool. All vendors should be evaluated against the same criteria. The decision making group should be requested to objectively evaluate all characteristics. IMPORTANT: It will be helpful to prioritize or rank the importance of the characteristics prior to summarizing scores from all the evaluations.
Develop an evaluation form or tool
In order to ensure all vendors are measured against the same criteria, you may want to develop or adopt a standard evaluation form. A sample Lift Vendor Evaluation Form is available to help get the process started.
Compile a list of lift equipment vendors and, based on the vendor characteristics the committee has identified as important, narrow the list down to a short-list of perhaps three high-potential candidates. Suggestion: you may wish to ask each vendor to meet with your committee to answer a general question such as, “What best qualifies your company to be our lift vendor?” (NOTE: Your evaluation form is for committee members. Do not give each vendor your evaluation form and ask them to make a presentation covering evaluation criteria.)
Present your rationale to management
Build a strong case - including practical, clinical, and economic factors -- to support your committee’s recommendation. Be sure to include a review of the committee’s evaluation criteria and weighting. And, don’t forget to ask directly for management’s endorsement and support.
In summary -
If you are deliberating about which lift vendor to select, it’s important that your considerations extend beyond the equipment itself and encompass an assessment of each vendor’s technical support services, clinical and educational offerings, safe patient handling program support, and related criteria. You may also wish to talk with users, for example, to learn what implementation methods worked best for them and what stumbling blocks they encountered. While your equipment recommendation is important, successful end- users strongly recommend you also consider the following:
- User training and on-going educational support
- Know-how to encourage caregiver participation in your safe lifting program
- Full line of products to meet all of your facility’s needs.
- Full line of slings (standard and disposables)to accommodate all patients
- Life cycle costs
- Vendor experience and stability
- Continuing support after installation
To assist in your evaluation of lift equipment vendors, please download this helpful evaluation tool.