Invitation to tender guidance


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Invitation to tender guidance

  1. 1. CS 07 K – COCOON YOUR HOME SOLAR – INVITATION TO TENDER GUIDANCE V8: 23rd February 2012 Invitation to Tender Guidance Solar Water Heating and Solar Electricity Referrals from the United Sustainable Energy Agency1. IntroductionThe United Sustainable Energy Agency (USEA) runs a referral service called ‘Cocoon Your Home’. Originally,this service only passed enquiries from the public about loft and cavity wall insulation to reliable installingcompanies to do the work to the required standard, in acceptable timescales, and for the least cost. CocoonYour Home has been running in its present format since 2004 and has resulted in over 30,000 insulationmeasures being installed.As the UK pushes forward to meet its targets to reduce CO2 emissions, the way in which we produce heatand power for our homes is changing. In order to support this growing demand we have expanded ourCocoon Your Home service to include solar water heating (SWH) and solar electricity (PV). This new solarservice has been running since 16th August 2011. USEA expects to enter into non-exclusive agreementswith professional and reliable installing companies.USEA operates the Energy Saving Trust advice centre (ESTac) for the Thames Valley and Solent area andpreviously ran the Energy Efficiency Advice Centre for Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. The Cocoon YourHome service is a national offering, however, the aforementioned areas are considered to be our coreterritory. USEA works in partnership with all Local Authorities in its core territory and ensures thatcustomers are advised of any additional Local Authority grants which may be available to help pay for theinstallation. We also enter into agreements with Local Authority partners to manage grant schemes.Currently, there are no such grants available for SWH or PV but successful installing companies will beexpected to cooperate fully with schemes managed by USEA in the future. USEA is thus a trusted LocalAuthority partner and its marketing of the Cocoon Your Home service benefits from this relationship,ensuring that Local Authorities support the Cocoon Your Home service on their websites and are preparedfor their logo to go on joint mailings to potential customers.It is important to note that USEA values quality of service as highly as it does cost, a company which caninstall for the lowest price but cannot demonstrate a consistently high quality of service in a timely fashion isunlikely to be successful in the tendering exercise.When making referrals to customers, Cocoon Your Home will operate in the following way. Each installingcompany defines which geographic areas they can work in and provides up to 43 cost estimates (10 for SWHand/or 33 for PV) as show in Appendix 2. Over time, each installing company will develop a track record ofthe length of time it takes for them to deal with each referral - every referral must end up being reported aseither installed or cancelled. This track record will then be used to produce a running average. To beginwith, a dummy average response time will be agreed on a case-by-case basis with each installing company,taking into account the size of that company and the number of referrals it is likely to receive. It will be setlow enough to ensure that it does not put potential customers off from using the company.USEA conducts customer satisfaction surveys on 100% of installations reported by each installing company.During these surveys the customer is asked to give an overall satisfaction rating of between 1 and 10, where1 is abysmal and 10 is outstanding. Initially, all successful installing companies will be allocated a dummy Page 1 of 11 DOCUMENT IS UNCONTROLLED ONCE PRINTED OUT
  2. 2. CS 07 K – COCOON YOUR HOME SOLAR – INVITATION TO TENDER GUIDANCE V8: 23rd February 2012satisfaction score of 7, and once 10 customer satisfaction scores have been obtained, a rolling average ofthe customer satisfaction rating for each company will be calculated. Any average score of less than 6 isunsatisfactory and may lead to that company being suspended from the Cocoon Your Home service.All of this information is retained within the Cocoon Your Home web-based database, thus giving theoperating areas, cost, time and quality details for each installing company. When a customer asks for areferral, all the companies that work in that area and match the customer’s criteria will appear in the optionsto be chosen from. The customer will be informed of each company’s estimated cost for the requiredmeasure, their average time to deal with each referral, and their average customer satisfaction score. Thecustomer will then choose the installing companies they would like to be referred to. USEA will notrecommend one installing company over another and the customer is entitled to refer themselves to asmany installing companies as they would like.2. Completion of the tender documentIt is important that the tender is completed in line with the guidance given below. Failure to comply withthis will be disadvantageous to the tendering company as it may impact upon your final scores.2.1. Company name and contact detailsEnter the basic information about your company, providing full contact details.2.2. Company backgroundThis is your opportunity to sell your company to us. Please provide information on how long you have beenin existence, your attitude to referrals, membership of trade organisations, awards won etc. If you wish toinclude any letters of commendation etc these should be entered into Appendix 1.USEA works to tackle climate change and reduce carbon emissions and as such gives careful considerationto reducing the impact our day to day business has on the environment. As far as is practical, we alsoendeavour to work with companies which have the same green credentials and would like to know aboutany policies or processes your company has in place to minimise its environmental impact e.g. officerecycling, ISO 14001 certification, fuel efficient vehicle fleet etc. Page 2 of 11 DOCUMENT IS UNCONTROLLED ONCE PRINTED OUT
  3. 3. CS 07 K – COCOON YOUR HOME SOLAR – INVITATION TO TENDER GUIDANCE V8: 23rd February 20122.3. Geographic areaIn order to achieve healthy business competition, whilst seeking to ensure that each company gets enoughreferrals to make their membership of Cocoon Your Home worthwhile, we aim to have a minimum of 3installing companies, per technology and type, working in each county.Tendering companies should advise where they are seeking to install as part of Cocoon Your Home, bothinside and outside our core territory. National installing companies should specify any restrictions on wherethey can work (e.g. excluding the Scottish Islands). Please clearly specify in this section which counties orLocal Authority areas your company is tendering for. Companies tendering should not assume that they willbe accepted for all areas they apply for. USEA will seek a balance of options as explained above.2.4. Customer contactsBefore a customer is referred for a SWH and/or PV installation they will be required to complete an onlinepre survey questionnaire. See Once the customer has completed thequestionnaire and therefore shown they meet the essential criteria e.g. owner occupier, sufficient financialfunds, east to west through south facing roof etc, the customer will be given the details of appropriateinstalling companies. They will then be required to select the companies they want to be referred to. Oncethe customer has made their selection, an automated email will be sent to those companies, providing thecustomer’s details using the format shown in the document ‘Example Referral from USEA’. (USEA reservesthe right to change this format as and when necessary).Explain here, in full detail, how customers are contacted when a referral is received. Include furtherattempts are made to contact them if the initial attempt is unsuccessful. E.g. if messages are left on answerphones or voice mail, and no response is received within a certain time, what further attempts are made tospeak with the person within what timescales? When do you stop trying? Do you write to them? How willthey know you tried to contact them?Please ensure you clearly state your average time to make first contact with all customers, giving details ofhow that figure has been derived. Experience has demonstrated that swift initial contact after receiving areferral is vital to converting to a successful sale. Furthermore failure to make such contact with each andevery referral leads to complaints, which is unacceptable. Failure to maintain a good performance on thisaspect will lead to the company concerned being suspended or dropped entirely from the Cocoon YourHome service.Please note also that USEA employs a password scheme so where one has been provided, it must be used inevery contact with the customer. Page 3 of 11 DOCUMENT IS UNCONTROLLED ONCE PRINTED OUT
  4. 4. CS 07 K – COCOON YOUR HOME SOLAR – INVITATION TO TENDER GUIDANCE V8: 23rd February 20122.5. Installation times and overall referral capacityDetail here the following information: 2.5.1. Average time to survey after receipt of referral. 2.5.2. Average time to install after receipt of referral. 2.5.3. Number of referrals per month from USEA which can be surveyed (bearing in mind leads from other sources will take some of your capacity). 2.5.4. Number of referrals per month from USEA which can be installed (bearing in mind leads from other sources will take some of your capacity). 2.5.5. Average conversion rate of referrals (not surveys) into actual installations.Indicate exactly on what basis this information has been collected.USEA recognises that because customer details could be sent to a number of installing companies theconversion rate, from referral to installation, will be reduced for each company. USEA will therefore bemindful of this fact when assessing referral rates.For reference, please note that marketing will be undertaken in order to boost the number of referralsgenerated. The graph below shows the number of Cocoon Your Home insulation referrals over the yearsand our steady annual growth. USEA aims to achieve a similar growth with solar energy referrals. Figure 1 - Insulation Measures Installed2.6. Situations when you will not installFor both PV and SWH detail under what conditions you will not install or will only install with certainprovisos. This may include properties with more than two storeys, access issues such as conservatories, orlong distances from where the lorry can be parked. The fact that you will not install in certain circumstancesdoes not necessarily put you at a disadvantage and may well indicate the professional care you take to doyour work properly. Page 4 of 11 DOCUMENT IS UNCONTROLLED ONCE PRINTED OUT
  5. 5. CS 07 K – COCOON YOUR HOME SOLAR – INVITATION TO TENDER GUIDANCE V8: 23rd February 20122.7. Solar water heating (SWH)Detail which SWH product(s) your company installs and the guarantees which come with the products andinstallation. Please also detail here any other factors that may give you a competitive advantage.Detail what documentation, including guarantee, is left with the property holder and enclose samples wherepossible in Appendix 3.2.8. Solar electricity (PV)Detail which PV product(s) your company installs and the guarantees which come with the products andinstallation. Please also detail here any other factors that may give you a competitive advantage.Detail what documentation, including guarantee, is left with the property holder and enclose samples wherepossible in Appendix 4.2.9. Additional products and services offeredDetail what additional services and products you can offer above and beyond installation of solartechnologies, such as boiler servicing, roofing repairs, Sun Plug installation as an alternative to replacing thehot water tank, and the charges you make for those services and products.2.10. Staffing and trainingIt is a requirement that all installing companies employ only their own staff on Cocoon Your Home referralsand do not use contractors. This is to ensure that in the event of any difficulty USEA knows exactly who tocontact and to ensure that the invoicing for referral fees for completed installations is as simple andtransparent as possible.Detail the training provided to all your staff including those involved from initial point of contact, through tosurveying, installation and after-service care to ensure a consistently high quality of customer service. Inparticular, please detail the training in place to ensure staff adhere to the REAL code.USEA recognises that installing companies may work with other schemes and pricing schedules. It is ourintention to continue to expand the number of Local Authority grants which USEA administers, and we willtherefore expect our installing companies to work with those new grants as they become available. Clearlystate how you will ensure that your surveying teams will, at all times, offer the correct price to the customer,taking account of all Local Authority schemes you have agreed to work under. Failure to consistently offerpricing in an accurate fashion may lead to the installing companies being removed from the Cocoon YourHome service. Page 5 of 11 DOCUMENT IS UNCONTROLLED ONCE PRINTED OUT
  6. 6. CS 07 K – COCOON YOUR HOME SOLAR – INVITATION TO TENDER GUIDANCE V8: 23rd February 20122.11. Quality controlAs already mentioned, quality is of paramount importance to USEA. Detail here any quality certification yourcompany has and how you maintain this standard. Also detail what actions are taken to ensure that yourinstallations are checked (both internally and by external bodies) to ensure they meet the requiredstandards. Where reports have been provided by internal auditors or external bodies please provide detailsin Appendix 5. External reports are preferred.In the past with insulation, some Local Authority grant schemes require that external surveyors areemployed to check the quality of the work done under their scheme. This usually applies to 10% of allproperties installed. In the past this has highlighted some problems which have led to the work being re-done and internal disciplinary procedures being invoked. Ensure you make clear in this section how youwould seek to avoid such a situation arising with your own company and what action you would take if itdid.2.12. Professional and technical standardsUSEA insists that all solar installing companies work to industry technical standards, as recognised bygovernment, and are certificated under MCS 001 and 002. Ongoing participation in the Cocoon Your Homeservice will depend on continued certification under MCS. As part of the conditions of MCS, all successfulinstalling companies are expected to be members of, and fully abide by, the REAL assurance scheme Codeof Professional Practice as detailed at Failure todo so will result in removal from the referral service.Please supply a copy of the appropriate MCS and REAL assurance membership certificates in Appendix 6.PV panels must meet standards MCS 005 and the installation according to MIS 3002. Solar water heatingcollectors should be MCS 004 and their installation should be to MIS 3001. Should any of these standardsbe superseded by new ones then applicants are expected to abide by those later standards.Applicants should confirm in this section that they do indeed abide by all these relevant standards. Page 6 of 11 DOCUMENT IS UNCONTROLLED ONCE PRINTED OUT
  7. 7. CS 07 K – COCOON YOUR HOME SOLAR – INVITATION TO TENDER GUIDANCE V8: 23rd February 20122.13. Complaints procedure and contact detailsUSEA recognises that all companies make mistakes from time to time; the important thing is how they arehandled. Detail here how your complaint system works and give at least three examples of how a complaintwas satisfactorily resolved and what measures were put in place to try to prevent a recurrence of theproblem.The customer satisfaction surveys conducted by USEA occasionally give rise to some additional complaints.Any complaints raised in such surveys will be reported back to the company concerned and it is expectedthat a suitable and reasonable response will be provided. USEA will issue such complaints weekly along withthe referrals. The complaints listed will be all ongoing ones, not yet marked up as resolved, and all newones received in the last month whether resolved or not. Unresolved complaints will continue to bereported, and chased up, every week until they are resolved. This helps to establish a pattern of whatissues each company may have in dealing with the referrals and so makes it easier for them to be addressedand so improve company performance.In the event of a customer raising a complaint about your company a day-to-day contact name and contactdetails are required who will take responsibility for dealing with that complaint, finding out the company’sown version of events, contacting the customer and keeping USEA informed of progress. See 2.14 below.2.14. Key company contactsComplete the table provided as fully as possible to ensure USEA will know who the key people are withinyour company if/when you are accepted into the service and begin to receive referrals.2.15. Referral feesFrom all successful tendering companies USEA will receive a minimum referral fee of: £500 + VAT per successful PV installation £200 + VAT per successful SWH installationIrrespective of size and type of technology installed.USEA reserves the right to review and potentially increase referral fees and to charge more in areas whereUSEA administers additional grant funds leading to a higher number and concentration of leads from a smallgeographic area. This takes account of the increased administration required by USEA to manage thesegrants, and the reduced installing company costs given the concentration of leads in one area.Please confirm your agreement to these fees in this section. Page 7 of 11 DOCUMENT IS UNCONTROLLED ONCE PRINTED OUT
  8. 8. CS 07 K – COCOON YOUR HOME SOLAR – INVITATION TO TENDER GUIDANCE V8: 23rd February 20122.16. Referral documentation and reporting on surveys/installationsPlease note that 100% compliance with this section is vital and non-negotiable.USEA has developed a website-based database to deal with referrals and automate the service as far aspossible. When a customer submits a referral through the online service the data is stored in a databaselinked to the website and an email is sent to the appropriate installing company or companies, notifyingthem of the referral. The installing company will then need to log into their website account in order to seethe referral and proceed with contacting the customer. The customer’s details will be presented in a similarformat shown in ‘Example Referral from USEA’.Your company will be expected to enter information into the website about every referral (the documentspreadsheet ‘Example Reporting to USEA’ shows the information required). In particular, you should notethat for every referral USEA should receive the following information: 2.16.1. If no survey was conducted an explanation of why not. 2.16.2. Actual survey date (once completed, never a planned date). 2.16.3. If no installation took place an explanation of why not. 2.16.4. Actual installation date (once completed, never a planned date). 2.16.5. The measures actually installed. 2.16.6. Actual cost to the customer including VAT.You should note from the above that it is as important to USEA to know why installations did not occur as itis to know what installations went ahead.Installing companies are expected to update information about each referral in a timely manner, as andwhen each stage is completed (i.e. survey, installation and cancellation). USEA does not expect to have tochase up installing companies to update the information.If providing any of the above information is anticipated to cause difficulties under the Data Protection Act, orother legislation, then the installing company should ensure the customer gives permission for theinformation to be released back to USEA. This is a condition of being sent the referral.Please confirm your agreement to providing this information in the timescales defined above.The format used is designed to ensure all referrals are tracked from referral to installation or referral tocancellation and that none get lost. Compliance with the provision of this information, in the formatspecified and in the timescales specified is therefore a fundamental requirement. Failure to comply with thiswill lead to no more referrals being made until such reports are provided.USEA will seek to minimise any changes to this format over the period of the agreement, but reserves theright to change it as and when necessary. Page 8 of 11 DOCUMENT IS UNCONTROLLED ONCE PRINTED OUT
  9. 9. CS 07 K – COCOON YOUR HOME SOLAR – INVITATION TO TENDER GUIDANCE V8: 23rd February 20122.17. Data protectionUSEA will be providing the successful tendering companies with personal information for each referral. It isa condition of receiving that data that it must only be used for the purpose of following up the householder’srequest for a survey and not passed on to any other organisation (except for the sole purposes of activatinga guarantee system or resolving a dispute with the person concerned), nor used for any other marketingcampaign by the installing company unless the customer has specifically given their permission in writing forthat to be done. Installing companies must process all personal data received from USEA in accordance withall of the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998. In particular, this personal data must be handledsecurely, must not be kept for longer than necessary, and must not be retained for future marketingpurposes or (except as permitted by law) passed on to third parties without the prior consent of theindividual(s) in question.Please confirm your agreement to abiding by these conditions in this section.2.17. Appendix 1 – Commendations etcEnter copies of any letters of commendation etc which your company has received.2.18. Appendix 2 – Customer cost tableEnter your best costs for each available roof space m 2/technology type following the format shown.2.19. Appendix 3 – Example Solar Water Heating documentationEnter copies of example solar water heating related documentation left with the customer.2.20. Appendix 4 – Example Solar Electricity documentationEnter copies of example solar electricity related documentation left with the customer.2.21. Appendix 5 – Internal/External Quality ReportsEnter copies of any internal or external audit reports on your installations. External reports are preferred.2.22. Appendix 6 – MCS and REAL assurance membership certificatesEnter copies of your company’s MCS and REAL assurance membership certificate(s) as necessary. Page 9 of 11 DOCUMENT IS UNCONTROLLED ONCE PRINTED OUT
  10. 10. CS 07 K – COCOON YOUR HOME SOLAR – INVITATION TO TENDER GUIDANCE V8: 23rd February 20123. QueriesAny queries regarding completion of this tender should be raised with Ruth Wharton on 01908 699994.4. Tender returnsUSEA expects to complete its adjudication process within one month and will advise all tendering companiesof their results.Tenders should be returned as hard copies to: Ruth Wharton USEA, The National Energy Centre, Davy Avenue, Knowlhill, Milton Keynes, MK5 8NGThose parts of the tender which can be returned electronically should also be emailed to Ruth Wharton In particular, the completed Appendix 2 – Solar Customer Costs, should beemailed as well as a hard copy provided.All tenders received will be acknowledged by email.5. AdjudicationTender adjudication will take place against a strict scoring system which has already been agreed prior tothe issuing of this invitation to tender. If requested, unsuccessful tendering companies will receive feedbackincluding detailed scores for each section.6. Additional informationDuring earlier Cocoon Your Home tendering exercises a number of questions were raised by potentialinstalling companies. Those questions and answers are repeated here to provide additional clarity. Anyquestions and answers which are raised during the tendering process will be shared amongst all potentialtendering companies.6.1. Are prices to be harmonised giving the average price per measure based on all prices submitted by companies?No. The spreadsheet of pricing per available roof space and required technology installation is built into ourdatabase and the exact estimated price (subject to survey) as given by each company is used to calculatethe best deal. This requires up to 43 lines of data per company at the moment, 10 for SWH and 33 for PV. Page 10 of 11 DOCUMENT IS UNCONTROLLED ONCE PRINTED OUT
  11. 11. CS 07 K – COCOON YOUR HOME SOLAR – INVITATION TO TENDER GUIDANCE V8: 23rd February 20126.2. What is the proposed duration for this scheme?Cocoon Your Home has no particular end date – our aim is to try to insulate every loft and every cavity wallin the country and install solar energy in as many homes as possible. Any agreement we enter into with acompany is non-exclusive to ensure that if there are dramatic price changes we have the flexibility to makeagreements with other companies as and when necessary. Any new agreements will run indefinitely,allowing us to build long term relationships with each successful tenderer.6.3. Is there a proposal for marketing the scheme to raise awareness with householders?Yes. We work closely with a number of Local Authorities and we intend to continue marketing Cocoon YourHome with those LAs using mail shots, events and presentations as appropriate.In addition the Cocoon Your Home website enables customers to choose an installing company on exactlythe same basis as if they phoned through, and the website is marketed using a variety of online marketingtechniques. See appropriate, we hope neighbourhood canvassing will also be carried out on a street-by-street basis.6.4. A lot of detail has been provided on reporting formats – how critical is that really?It is vital. If you won’t be able to provide the reports as requested you shouldn’t make a bid. Only byhaving that level of detailed reporting and control can we satisfy ourselves, our Local Authority partners andour customers that our service is doing what it says it will and tracking every single referral to conclusion.This is fundamental.7. DefinitionsIn this document the following definitions apply:USEA the United Sustainable Energy AgencyCocoon Your Home the solar insulation referral service run by USEA Page 11 of 11 DOCUMENT IS UNCONTROLLED ONCE PRINTED OUT