Section 3: Selection Process

3.0 General Information

In accordance with Federal Regulations and State Laws, only persons licensed by the Florida Division of Blind Services may participate in this solicitation for applications. Persons in the latter stages of training may also participate in anticipation of licensure. The information contained in the Facility Opportunity Announcement is representative only and may change without notice.

The sales estimates on each Announcement are either annualized based on a projection for new facilities or on available sales history for existing facilities. Future sales may fluctuate due to unforeseen changes in the business climate. Please remember that a previous vendor's management practice, or changes in a facility's population, may impact the sales figures quoted. Business conditions may cause sales projections to increase or decrease after the Announcement is posted. Interested persons need to carefully evaluate the potential benefits and risks of each business opportunity for which they apply.

Staffing levels are not set by the BEP since it does not establish nor approve the number of employees it might take to conduct the facility's business. However, since labor cost does impact profitability, each Announcement does have anticipated staffing patterns. Again, this information is based on the analyzed needs of the business, not any previous or current vendor's management practice.

3.1 The Current Selection Process Protocol

A Statewide Selection Panel, consisting of 5 members; 2 appointed by the Division and 3 appointed by the State Committee of Vendors, shall evaluate applicants against criteria prescribed in Chapter 6A-18.0425 of the Florida Administrative Code. In accordance with the Selection Process, endorsed by the State Committee of Vendors and approved by the Division of Blind Services, the following elements will be observed by the Selection Panel in evaluating an applicant's credentials for each of the business opportunities offered. Each selection competition shall have three (3) primary components as described below.

1. Testing (40 Points)

All applicants shall take a test at the most convenient DBS Office on the date and time published on each vacancy announcement. All tests will be proctored by a Division employee. Security measures will be taken to ensure statewide consistency with its administration. Test questions shall measure the applicant's knowledge of information derived from the study guide resource material posted on the BEP website. The test questions may consist of multiple choice; fill in the blank; true/false; and business math word problems. There is no set number or mix of questions; questions will be scaled to achieve a total of 40 points for the test.

2. Performance Review (25 Points)

a) Credit for Experience

Six (6) points at the rate of one tenth of one point (0.1) per month under a Type I or Type II LOFA. No extra points are given for persons holding concurrent LOFA's.

b) Business Consultant Questionnaire

Ten (10) points for Business Consultant responses to a ten (10) item performance questionnaire. Each Consultant shall answer the following ten (10) questions concerning the business practices of applicants currently holding, a LOFA in his or her Region.  

  1. As of today, does the Vendor have proof of all required insurance policies (liability, worker’s compensation, and commercial vehicle)?
  2. Over the most recent 36 month period, has the Vendor kept all scheduled appointments with you for facility visitations?
  3. As of today, does the Vendor have clearly posted contact information at the facility and on all vending machines comprising the facility?
  4. Over the most recent 36 month period, have documented health inspection reports and consultant visitation reports reflected that all food products are being maintained at the temperatures required by DBPR Chapter 509 and US Food Code 2009?  This includes freezers, refrigerators, dry storage areas and vending machines.
  5. Over the most recent 36 month period, has the Vendor responded to all documented customer complaints within ten days of receiving the complaint? 
  6. As of today, based upon the most recent monthly sales reports, does the Vendor maintain a merchandise inventory equal to or above a level that ensures that all products and services are available for sale without interruption?
  7. Over the most recent 36 month period, has the Vendor corrected all Division, DBPR, or other health inspection cleaning and sanitation deficiencies within the required timeframe indicated on the report?
  8. As of today, have all invoices from the Vendor’s suppliers/purveyors been paid on-time and the Vendor has no business tax-liens pending against them?
  9. As of today, does the Vendor have all business licenses and permits as required by law?
  10. Over the most recent 36 month period, has the Vendor been directly involved in the day-to-day operations of their facility?

Documentation is required for all "no" responses and may include, but not be limited to, copies of Facility Visitation Reports, Food Service Inspection Reports, Building Manager/Property Manager Correspondence and/or Customer Complaint Letters.  If there is no documentation, then the yes response must be checked.  If an applicant is not holding a LOFA at the time of the performance review, no points shall be achievable in this category.

The ten (10) points shall be awarded or prorated by the following methods: Ten (10) points achievable for a Vendor under a LOFA for the most recent thirty-six (36) consecutive months. Each yes response by the Consultant shall earn the vendor one (1) point. For vendors with less than thirty-six (36) months under LOFA, the achievable points will be calculated by multiplying the number of yes responses times the actual number of months under a LOFA divided by 36 months.

c) Meeting Net Profit Percentage Requirements

Applicants may receive up to nine (9) points for meeting net profit percentage requirements during the most recent thirty-six (36) consecutive months—divided into three (3) twelve (12) month periods. A maximum of three (3) points per twelve (12) month period may be earned in the following manner:

d) Performance Penalties

  1. LOFA Cancellation for Breach or Abandonment: An applicant whose LOFA has been cancelled for cause, defined as breach of contract or abandonment of the facility, or whose license has been suspended during the 36 months prior to the close of applications shall not be scored on any performance elements. Applicants in this category will be assessed an additional 15 point penalty, to be subtracted from the applicant's overall score. If such applicants have successfully completed mandatory retraining requirements established by the Agency, they will be scored on the same basis as new licensees and the 15 point penalty will be rescinded. A resignation tendered while the applicant is in breach of contract will be considered equivalent to LOFA cancellation for transfer and promotion purposes and the applicant will be scored accordingly. The BEP Operations Manager shall make this determination in writing to the Panel. There shall be no retroactivity of this determination.
  2. Late Monthly Business Reports:  Applicants will have one point deducted from their cumulative score for each month in which any one of their required monthly business reports are submitted late over the previous 36 months.
  3. Letters of Warning: Letters of Warning are typically issued for operational deficiencies. Applicants will have two points deducted from their cumulative score for each warning letter issued during the previous 36 months.
  4. Letters of Sanction: Letters of Sanction are typically issued for unacceptable conduct issues. Applicants will have five points deducted from their cumulative score for each letter of sanction issued during the previous 36 months.

3. Interview (35 points)

In order to qualify for an interview, the applicant must achieve a combined test and performance review score which places them in the top five (5) scorers for any business opportunity for which he or she has applied. For clarification in the case of tie scores, for example, if the top individual scorers score 64, 64, 63, 63, 63 and 62, only the top five scorers (the five who scored 64 and 63) will be invited to be interviewed because 62 is not a score among the top five scorers. As another possible result of tie scores, it may be necessary for more than five applicants to be invited to be interviewed.  For example, if the top scorers scored 65, 63, 62, 61, 61, and 61, six applicants will be interviewed because six individuals are among the top five scorers.

If an applicant currently holds a Type II LOFA on a business opportunity among those offered, he or she shall be interviewed even if he or she is not in the top five scores for that location. Copies of records provided to the Selection Committee will be provided to the bidding licensee prior to the interview process. The Interview shall take not more than sixty (60) minutes. It shall be comprised of three parts: an informal break the ice component valued at 0 points; a structured interview component valued at 25 points; and an interactive component valued at 10 points.

a) Break the Ice Introductory Component: At the start of the interview, the panel will ask the applicant a couple of general opening questions. This portion should last no more than five minutes and be conducted in a light and friendly manner to help put the candidate at ease. No points are to be awarded for this component.

b) Structured Interview Component: Prior to the first interview, the Selection Panel will develop five (5) questions to be asked of each applicant. The Panel will then ask the 5 prepared questions. Each Panelist will independently evaluate the applicant's responses to each question using a scale of zero (0)  five (5) points. Whole numbers are not required and the Panel may decide to use whole points or fractions of points expressed as decimals as long as the method chosen is consistent across all interviews. The Panelists' scores will then be averaged and added to determine the points achieved in this component.

c) Interactive Component: Prior to each interview, the BEP Compliance Officer shall provide the Panel with pertinent documentation partially in the form of a synopsis from each applicant's most current thirty-six (36) month period holding a Type I or Type II LOFA. Copies of records provided to the Selection Panel will be provided to the applicant prior to the interview process. This information may include but may not be limited to the following:

Customer petitions, positive or negative, shall not be considered since the signatures cannot be verified. For applicants licensed within 12 months of the interview, and/or who have never had a Type I or II LOFA, final narrative reports from Daytona training and On-the-Job Training reports will be used in addition to any of the other stated performance documentation.

To begin this interactive component, applicants will be given up to five (5) minutes to make a general presentation of his or her qualifications and experience. This is the time the applicant is given the opportunity to sell him/herself and state the reasons he/she is best qualified to operate the facility.

Following the applicant's presentation, the Panel will ask the applicant questions related to their presentation for clarification and to address any inconsistencies between the documentation reviewed and his or her presentation. They will also use the provided documentation to ask additional questions related to substandard performance to allow the applicant to respond to those reports. One question might be to ask the applicant how much research they have done on a desired facility.

Each Panelist shall determine the point value of the discussion with the applicant using a scale of zero (0)  ten (10) points. Whole numbers are not required and the Panel may decide to use whole points or fractions of points expressed as decimals as long as the method chosen is consistent across all interviews. Each Panelist shall independently score the applicant's responsiveness to the Panel's inquiries. These scores will then be averaged to determine the points achieved in this component.

Credit for Distressed Facilities (Up to 5 Points)

A licensee who seeks a Type I LOFA while still holding a Type II LOFA for a facility that is previously determined as distressed due to reversible causes is eligible to receive a maximum of five (5) credit points in the selection for that facility only if he or she has significantly improved the overall performance and viability of the facility. Interstate highway rest area facilities are excluded from this credit determination. In order to earn this credit, the applicant shall be required to obtain and submit the following documentation to the Selection Panel:

Each Panelist shall independently score the applicant's documentation, using a sliding scale of zero (0) to five (5) points. The Panelist's scores will then be averaged to determine the credit points to be added to the applicant's overall score.

Selection Panel Recommendations

The Selection Panel is entrusted to recommend persons whom they feel are qualified to successfully manage a facility. Likewise, if the Panel feels some or all of the candidates do not have the ability to manage a location, the Panel may recommend the facility be re-advertised or it may recommend a candidate with a lower overall score. In such instances, the Panel is obligated to explain in writing its reasoning for making such a determination. The final decision to offer a facility to a particular applicant is the responsibility of the Bureau Chief.

Tie Breaking Mechanism

If a numerical tie occurs between two or more applicants, the winner will be determined by the following procedure. First Tie Breaker: The award will be given to the applicant with the greater number of months under LOFA since January 1, 1997. Second Tie Breaker: The award will be given to the applicant who has the earliest license issuance date.

3.2 Other Selection Process Issues

An applicant may take the test at the most convenient of the Division's 12 District Offices, but only on the date and at the time set by the Division. The interviews will be held at an announced location, usually in Tampa or Orlando, Florida. Applicants will be notified by mail as to the times and locations for both the test and the interviews. Travel arrangements and expenses incurred to attend tests and/or interviews shall be each applicant's responsibility.

Some property owners may require an incoming vendor to pass a security or drug screening in order to access its property. Failure of such screenings will disqualify the candidate for that business opportunity only.

Successful applicants shall also be responsible for any relocation costs as well as start-up business expenses upon approval of a LOFA; such approval being contingent on satisfactory resolution of all outstanding financial obligations with the Business Enterprise Program.

3.3 Business Opportunities

To apply for any posted business opportunities, Licensees must complete a Business Opportunity Application (Form DBS 007) in its entirety.  Applications are available via the local DBS office, the local BEP Consultant, or the DBS Web site. The application must include the applicant's name, current mailing address, email address, and phone number(s).  Application forms must be received by the BEP State Office no later than close of business (5:00 P.M. Eastern Time) on the posted deadline date.  Applications may be submitted via mail, email, or fax. Any application received after close of business (5:00 P.M.) on the posted deadline date will not be considered for the business opportunities listed.

Following the Statewide Selection Process, applicants will be notified which facilities, if any, that they were recommended for. The vendor will then be sent a Business Opportunity Decision form to verify their decision. This form must be returned and received by the BEP Compliance Officer no later than three business days from the date the vendor received it. Failure to respond within this period may result in the Division's withdrawal of its offer.

3.4 Vendor Residence Vicinity Requirement

A Licensee who accepts a Type I Licensed Operator Facility Agreement (LOFA) appointment to a BEP facility is required to establish legitimate physical residency at a distance of not more than seventy-five (75) verifiable driving miles from the facility. The Division shall allow the Vendor up to thirty (30) calendar days from execution of the Type I LOFA to comply with this requirement. The Division may grant an extension of not more than thirty (30) calendar days if the Vendor demonstrates a compelling reason for the additional time. Failure to comply shall be considered a material breach of the Type I LOFA and the contract shall be cancelled.

This policy also serves to restrict a current facility operator from moving more than seventy-five (75) verifiable driving miles away from a facility they currently operate under a Type I LOFA.

The Division reserves the right to ask the licensee to verify proof of their new residential address by providing any two (2) of the following documents: 

3.5 Outstanding Debt Prohibition

Licensed operators may not be permitted to apply for posted business opportunities, or sign a Licensed Operator Facility Agreement (LOFA), either a Permanent Type I LOFA or a Temporary Type II LOFA, if they have any current outstanding debt owed to the BEP Program.  This includes working capital shortage from any previous facility or any money owed to the BEP for any reason. 

Licensed operators will be required to repay any outstanding debt via a money order or cashier's check prior to participating in the Selection Process or signing any LOFA.

If a Working Capital shortage is discovered at the time of a facility changeover, the shortage must be paid in full by the outgoing operator via money order or cashier's check, prior to the outgoing operator signing a LOFA for any facility.

Based upon consideration of aggravating and mitigating factors present in an individual case, and after consultation with the chairperson of the State Committee of Vendors, the Division may permit a licensed operator to apply for or sign a Temporary Type II LOFA, not to exceed 18 months in duration, provided they enter into and abide by the stipulations of a repayment plan with the Division.

3.6 Selection Cycle Application Instructions

There are four ways you can obtain an application to apply for any available Facilities 

The Business Opportunity Application must be completed in its entirety. Provide your name with correct mailing address, email address, and telephone number(s) where you can be reached. A single application may be used to apply for multiple Facility listings that share the same deadline date. Page one (1) of the application provides a space where you designate by the Facility number the opportunities of interest to you. You will only be considered for those opportunities so designated when the application period closes. The Business Opportunity Application must be signed and dated.

All applications for any of the posted business opportunities may be mailed, faxed, emailed, or delivered by hand as long as the following deadline submittal requirements are met. All applications regardless of transmittal method should be sent to the attention of the BEP Compliance Officer in Tallahassee. An Application may be mailed or delivered by hand to the following address:

Division of Blind Services
Business Enterprise Program
325 West Gaines Street, Suite 1114
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0400

Applications may be emailed to the BEP Compliance Officer or faxed to (850) 245-0364. Any application not received in accordance with the prescribed deadline will not be considered. If you have questions on the application process contact your Regional Business Enterprise Consultant or the BEP Compliance Officer.

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Florida Business Enterprise Program

Providing Tools and Support for Legally Blind Vendors in the Food Service Industry

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