1. Follow your institution’s purchasing procedure. Be sure to follow your institution’s purchasing policies and procedures. Always keep in mind your institution’s bid limits and contact your purchasing department early in the process for guidance.
2. Do your homework. Get as much information about what you’re trying to acquire, whether goods or services, as possible before contacting a vendor. Information that is particularly useful is how much the goods or services generally cost, whether they come with a warranty or any type of service plan, and whether they are widely available or only sold by a few vendors. The more widely available the product, the easier it will be to get a vendor to negotiate the price or the options available with the product.
3. Name it to claim it. Be able to clearly state what it is you want, how much you’re willing to pay for it, and when you need it. Contact your purchasing department with questions regarding developing specifications for the product or service you want to procure.
4. Never be afraid to ask. If you need additional services or considerations outside of what the vendor generally provides, go ahead and ask for them, and include them in your specifications.
5. Shop around. For purchases which only require verbal or informal bids pursuant to your institution’s purchasing policies, ensure you or your purchasing department, depending on your institution’s policy; obtain the requisite number and types of bids or quotes. Also, you may want to ask your purchasing department whether a state contract (e.g. TXMAS or DIR contract) exists under which you could make your purchase; often, purchases made under group ordering agreements negotiated on behalf of the State of Texas, like these are, yield the best value to the institution.
Talking points for discussion with vendors
1. The UNT System is a large organization serving approximately 40,000 students, faculty, and staff. If a vendor provides a good deal or service, it is possible they would get repeat UNT System business.
2. Accepting a purchase order issued by an institution of the UNT System instead of a contract will speed the processing of the transaction.
3. If you’re trying to negotiate to include State of Texas language in a contract, explain that the UNT System is an agency of the State of Texas and its purchasing function is regulated and limited by statute. The statutes regulating purchases often benefit vendors, such as Government Code 2251, which insures that vendors will be paid within thirty days, or they will receive interest on the overdue amount, and Government Code 2260, which provides a means by which vendors can take action for breach of contract claim from which a state agency would otherwise be immune.