In this article we will cover how you can find tenders for your organisation and look at some of the important steps a business should take in order to submit competitive bids to win.
How do I find a Tender for my business?
Local Authorities are a great place to start for lower value contracts, there are also commercial companies out there that will amalgamate contract opportunities for you, for a small fee.
For something a bit bigger, you might want to go direct to the government run Contract Finder to find public sector contracts worth £10,000 or more in central government and contracts worth over £25,000 in the wider public sector.
How do I give my company a competitive advantage?
Local Authorities and Chambers of Commerce run events covering procurement processes and offer previews of upcoming work. These events can be useful when you are new to the tendering process because they provide a better understanding of what the buyers are looking for and where they are going to publish their tenders.
This can be a great opportunity to make a memorable first impression too. Raising your visibility is valuable at this early stage because many councils operate an approved suppliers list, meaning that businesses on that list will often get first look at new contracts.
Where should I start and what do I send with my application?
Start with a small tender and work your way up. By doing this the competition will typically be reduced, giving you a better chance of winning, and an opportunity to develop your portfolio.
Complete the tender with care. You must remember that the person reading this knows nothing about your business and the tender was written to meet their needs. You need to paint the ‘whole’ picture for them. A common mistake that applicants make is focusing on what you do, rather than the benefit to the buyer.
Providing evidence strengthens your message. Don’t send glossy brochures, send proof of work in the form of case studies, testimonials and references. Accreditations and awards can also be really beneficial here, like ISO 9001.
Which Accreditations can help you win tenders?
The vast majority of Pre-Qualification Questionnaires (PQQs) ask for ISO 9001. By holding this certification you can often increase your chances of achieving that all important ‘A*’ grade.
Companies without an ISO 9001 Certification in place can often end up having to work twice as hard in the early stage of the bid, to prove that your processes are of equal calibre, and still end up with just a grade ‘B’.
ISO 9001 isn’t the only accreditation that is useful for tenders. You may also be asked for Environmental (ISO 14001) and Health & Safety (OHSAS 18001) certifications, as well as other schemes, such as CHAS. We are seeing more and more points being awarded for organisations holding Environmental and Health & Safety certifications it is believe that this change has been driven by government initiatives from recent years.
What to do if your efforts don’t win you a contract?
Quite often your first few tender applications won’t win. It could be something small like missing off a signature or it could just be that the competition was much stronger. Either way it’s important to bear in mind that a win ration of 1in 3 is often consider good – so don’t be disheartened if this is true for you too!
If you are looking to improve your applications, you can request feedback on your application to understand why you missed out.
There are also professional consultancies out there that can help you. These people specialise in bid preparation. With their experience of scoring methodologies and knowledge of buyers, a consultant can quickly help you spot areas for improvement.