Vendor Selection Process

Carl Walker.

General Information on the Facility Availability Announcement 

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 Announcements 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 a facility's temporary department operation may have impacted the sales figures quoted. Business conditions may increase or decrease sales projections after an 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 Business Enterprise (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.

Dennis Horn standing in a micro market.

Application Process

How to Obtain an Application

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

  • Request a Business Opportunity Application (BEP Form #007) from your local District Office.
  • Contact your Regional Business Enterprises Consultant and request that they provide you a Business Opportunity Application (BEP Form #007).
  • Download the Business Opportunity Application in PDF format from this site.
  • Call the BEP state office at (850) 245-0350 and request that an application be mailed, faxed, or emailed to you.

How to Complete an Application 

The Business Opportunity Application must be completed in its entirety. Give your name with correct mailing address and telephone numbers (daytime and evening) where you can be reached.

An application may be used to apply for multiple Facility Listings that share the same deadline date. Page one of the application provides a space where you will designate, by Facility Number, the business opportunities of interest to you. You will only be considered for those opportunities you have listed when the application period closes.

The Business Opportunity Application must be signed and dated.

If you have questions concerning the application process, contact your Regional Business Enterprise Consultant or the BEP Compliance Officer in the BEP state office.

How to Submit Application

You may send applications by mail, fax, or email.    

Mailing Address:

Division of Blind Services
Attn: Alan Risk, Compliance Officer
325 West Gaines Street, Suite 1114
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0400

Fax Number: 850-245-0364

Mandatory Background Screening

Applicants will be required to undergo a Level II Criminal Background Screening pursuant to Chapter 435.04, Florida Statutes immediately upon receipt of the application by the Division.  The Division will pay the cost of the background screening. Local transportation for finger printing shall be the applicant's responsibility.

Should an applicant have a disqualifying criminal history, the applicant will not receive further consideration in the selection process. Such disqualified candidates may request in writing an exception but will not be allowed to proceed in the selection process until a decision has been reached on his or her request.

Vendor Residence Vicinity Requirement

A Licensee who accepts a Type I Licensed Operator Facility Agreement (LOFA) appointment to a Business Enterprise facility is required to establish legitimate physical residency at a distance of not more than 75 verifiable driving miles from the facility.

The Division shall allow the Vendor up to 30 days from execution of the Type I LOFA to comply with this requirement. The Division may grant an extension of not more than 30 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.

Commitment Information

If the prospective vendor accepts this location as his or her first Type I Licensed Operator Facility Agreement, a one year commitment is required as a condition of acceptance.

Shelves and displays in a micro market.

The Current Selection Process Protocol

A Statewide Selection Panel, consisting of five members; two appointed by the Division and three 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 Improvements endorsed by the State Committee of Vendors and approved by the Division of Blind Services on May 13, 2011, 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 components as described below.

Testing (40 Points)

All applicants shall take a test at the most convenient district office on the date and time published on each vacancy announcement. All tests will be proctored by a Division employee uninvolved with BEP. Security measures will be taken to ensure statewide consistency with its administration.

Test questions shall measure the applicant's knowledge of general business management, safe food or product handling, basic vending machine operation and maintenance, business math, financial skills, labor management, inventory control, product pricing, BEP administrative rules and policies, the standards of business conduct found in either a Type I or Type II Licensed Operator Facility Agreement (LOFA) and any other elements relevant to the successful management of a BEP business.

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.

Performance Review (25 Points)

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 LOFAs.

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 LOFA divided by 36 months.

Meeting Net Profit Requirements: Nine (9) Points for meeting net profit requirements for the most recent thirty-six (36) consecutive monthly business reporting periods a vendor has held a Type I Licensed Operator Facility Agreement (LOFA) or a Type II LOFA. Each twelve (12) month period shall be valued at three (3) achievable points in the following manner:

(1) Three (3) points for meeting the annualized net profit required by the Type I or Type II LOFA, across a consecutive twelve (12) month period.

(2) One quarter (.25) point for each month the targeted net profit is achieved a) for any consecutive twelve (12) month period involving changes in facility type, or b) less than twelve (12) months duration.

(3) Any vendor who has one (1) or more missing reports during one (1) consecutive twelve (12) month period will result in zero (0) points for that period.

Performance Penalties (Variable)

  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 overall performance review score. Applicants in this category who have successfully completed mandatory retraining requirements established by the Agency 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 and Management Consultant 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 monthly business report verified as late over the previous 36 months.
  3. Warning Letters:  Applicants will have two points deducted from their cumulative score for each warning letter issued during the previous 36 months.
  4. Letters of Reprimand: Applicants will have five points deducted from their cumulative score for each letter of reprimand issued during the previous 36 months.

Interview Qualification Requirement

People at counter in Broward Cafeteria.

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.

Interview (35 points)

The interviews will be held in a central location such as Tampa or Orlando, Florida. Applicants will be notified by mail as to the time and location. Travel arrangements and expenses incurred to attend shall be each applicant's responsibility.

The interview shall take not more than sixty (60) minutes. It shall be comprised of three parts; 1) an informal break the ice component valued at 0 points, 2) a structured interview component valued at 25 points and, 3) an interactive component, valued at 10 points.

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.

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 five 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 panelist's scores will then be averaged and added to determine the points achieved in this component.

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) months holding a Type I or Type II LOFA. This information may include but not be limited to the following:

  • Performance statistics generated from monthly business reports
  • Business Consultant Facility Visitation Reports
  • Written LOFA cancellation warning correspondence
  • Written correspondence between the Building Manager/Property Owner and the Division
  • Sanitation Reports
  • Independent Customer Service survey results
  • BEP State Office Facility Monitoring Results

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 interview 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 they are 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 Endangered or 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 prior determined as endangered or 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:

1) Written determination by the BEP Operations and Management Consultant Manager or BEP Bureau Chief that the Facility qualifies for the credit.

2) Written recommendation of the Business Consultant responsible for the Facility that significant improvements have been achieved by the applicant while under a Type II LOFA.

3) Written recognition by the Property Owner/Building Manager that the building population is encouraged by the efforts of the applicant.

4) Performance comparisons based on Monthly Business Reports data that shows increases, for example, in Gross Sales and Net Profit, for the time under the Type II LOFA compared to an equivalent time frame of the previous Vendor.

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.

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.

History: Established on September 27, 2004; Amended on November 6, 2004; Amended on March 28, 2005; Amended March 30, 2006; Amended November 11, 2007; Amended May 9, 2008; Amended August 9, 2008; Amended December 16, 2009; Amended January 12, 2011; Amended May12, 2011.

Other Issues

Some property owners may require an incoming vendor to pass a security or drug screening in order to access their 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 Enterprises Program.

Visit the Training Schedules page to see when the next new vendor training will be held.

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Florida Business Enterprise Program

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

DISCLAIMER: Links on the Florida Division of Blind Services (DBS) website that are directed toward websites outside the DBS, provide additional information that may be useful or interesting and are being provided consistent with the intended purpose of the DBS website. DBS cannot attest to the accuracy of information provided by non-DBS websites. Further, providing links to a non-DBS website does not constitute an endorsement by DBS, the Florida Department of Education or any of its employees, of the sponsors of the non-DBS website or of the information or products presented on the non-DBS website.