Tenders for Council Contracts

Our team of senior tender writing consultants have proven experience in winning council contracts. Make sure your business competes successfully and wins more council tenders.
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Winning a Council contract

Whatever product or service you supply, understanding a council’s objectives in procuring that product or service is critical to winning a contract with them. You will need to demonstrate that your offer is precisely aligned to their requirements and is better than that of any large corporate that could potentially be better resourced or perceived as lower risk.

Council budgets are under increasing pressure, yet councils still need to deliver a quality service to meet the needs of the local population. Social value is high on the agenda of any council procurement exercise and a key aspect of council tenders; as a result, your offer must deliver outstanding quality, improve the lives of people in the local community and represent excellent value for money.

Council tenders are for a huge range of UK wide products and services, so can be a rich source of opportunities for your business to grow. Just some of the products and services tendered for include:

  • Architecture and design
  • Business process outsourcing
  • Catering/food/produce supply
  • Cleaning 
  • Construction
  • Council housing
  • Council tax and housing benefits processing/management
  • Digital services
  • IT and telecommunications services
  • Major and minor works
  • Pest/animal control
  • Planning
  • Printing
  • Project management
  • Property aids/adaptations
  • Property management

Top tips for winning Council contracts:

1

Check how the tender is structured

Check how the tender is structured. Is more than one council involved, e.g. a shared service? Is the tender split into different lots or are all products and services grouped together? If the latter, be sure you can deliver all the requirements. This is a good opportunity to demonstrate to the council how you will achieve excellent volume efficiencies. If they award the whole contract to you, how much will they save? Can you offer some added value incentives? Correspondingly, if you’re bidding for an individual lot, how will your business deliver better value than a bigger multi-disciplinary company?
2

Read all the tender documentation

There may be a lot of documentation, but you need to understand exactly what the council is looking for and whether you are able to meet all their requirements. If you don’t have all the right accreditations, e.g. Constructionline or CQC, is this something you should be looking to invest in so you can tender for future similar opportunities? Check carefully whether having the accreditation is an absolute pass/fail, or whether there is opportunity to explain an alternative. Certain accreditations are not always required by every council and can be expensive to attain.
3

Give quality assurance

Councils and other local authorities are risk-averse, so you need to provide the assurances that your service is robust and high quality. How do you monitor your service delivery so that it is of a consistent high quality? What systems do you have in place for dealing with any problems or complaints? How have you acted on feedback to improve the quality of your service? Can you include examples of feedback from other council customers within your tender response?
4

Manage the contract effectively

Should you win the contract, there will be regular communication between yourself and the council, so you will need to demonstrate robust contract management processes with a clear organisational structure and corresponding lines of communication. How experienced are your account managers at handling this sort of contract? What technology do you use to manage your service delivery? Provide evidence of previous council experience wherever possible, such as management information reports and adherence to the SLA (Service Level Agreement) and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).
5

Have strong policies and procedures

Are your policies strong, up to date and reviewed regularly? Do you have processes in place to make staff aware of changes? Councils want to be confident that the work on their behalf will be carried out to the highest standards with minimal risk to employees and the general public. Can you demonstrate staff training and qualifications in e.g. Health & Safety? Many council tenders involve working with vulnerable members of society. Do you have robust Safeguarding procedures? Do you have an Equality & Diversity policy, and can you demonstrate you are an equal opportunities employer?
6

Deliver continuous improvement/innovation

Councils are looking for suppliers to deliver over and above the specified services so they can deliver a better service for their own customers, users, residents etc. Most council tenders will therefore include questions for suppliers to demonstrate what they can do to enhance the contract, what innovative methods they can bring to the table, and what improvements they will deliver over the contract term. It’s important to show evidence of how your innovative methods have been used to save your other customers money or delivered better quality. If you don’t have this data, collect this now.

Specific Council tender issues to bear in mind:

1

Social Value

Improving the economic, social and environmental well-being of the local community is of high importance to councils so your tender response will need to demonstrate the benefits your business will provide in these areas. Take into consideration the value of the tender but think about what you can offer in terms of local employment, apprenticeships, volunteering, local business support, and environmental and sustainability considerations. What can you offer as a local SME that a large corporate can’t? This can be a key differentiator and is often worth 10% of a tender score.
2

Local issues

Similarly, demonstrating in your tender that you have a better understanding of local issues than other bidders is a key area where an SME can really differentiate themselves from larger competitors. What can you demonstrate in your tender that shows you have a better understanding of the council and local community issues than any other bidder? Are there key demographics you can include? Are there specific issues with parts of the local community that your business knows about and has experience in dealing with? Show the preventative measures you have put in place. Show how you engage with the community to reduce the impacts on council resources.
3

Value for money

Council budgets are tight, so council tenders will be structured to ensure they are getting value for money. Can you demonstrate how you can help reduce costs or increase efficiencies without affecting the level of service? Show the real figures from your previous experiences. How did you save your other council customers money over the course of their contracts? As a smaller business, you will also need to differentiate yourself from a bigger bidder that expects to achieve volume efficiencies (e.g. bigger company can buy in bulk). What evidence do you have to counteract that argument? Can you show that actually, on balance, your smaller business delivers much better long-term value?
4

Provide evidence

The council will want to be certain that you have the skills and experience necessary to provide the service requested. Wherever possible, include facts and figures from where you have successfully delivered similar services to other customers in the past. Up to 3 relevant references are usually required in the selection stage of council tenders. To provide the additional assurances needed, use case histories and testimonials with information on mobilisation, resourcing (detailing staff qualifications and experience), timescales, communication, and results/outcomes.
5

Step by step process

Council tenders often ask you to describe the step by step process you would follow in everyday operations in order to meet the requirements in the specification. You need to demonstrate that you have a repeatable, monitored process that meets every council requirement. Start putting together (simple) process flows if you don’t already have them covering your service from end-to-end. How do you receive a work request? What happens to it then? How does it flow through your business? What technology do you use to track your processes? Make sure you use the same terminology as that used in the specification e.g. are the end users described as clients, customers, residents, patients, service users or something else?

Council tenders we’ve won:

  • Accommodation services
  • Architecture
  • Business process outsourcing
  • Care homes
  • Cleaning services
  • Facilities management
  • Flooring
  • Grounds maintenance
  • Housing
  • Printing and mailing services
  • Recruitment
  • Repair and maintenance
  • Security
  • Social care
  • Stairlift installation
  • Supply of equipment
  • Supported living
  • Transport services
  • Window cleaning
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Our customers

We approached Complete Tenders to help us with a bid for a local public sector project, having previously failed to win similar work. It was interesting to witness how our bid was moulded to suit the brief requirements and utilise our specific experience and skillsets. Our final submission was well polished and ultimately Complete Tenders helped us win our first public sector job. We are now using their tracker service to find the next appropriate tender for us to bid for.

Simon KnightMilligan Knight Architects

I would like to say a big thanks to you and your team for enabling us to successfully tender for this opportunity. Your help, support and guidance has enabled us to compete toe-to-toe with the ‘big boys’ and has ultimately resulted in us joining a framework that will hopefully lead to a large amount of work for us. I look forward to working with you on future tenders and would recommend Complete Tenders to anyone seeking success with the tender process.

Ian AbrahamsJNB Publishing Ltd

Our Company first used Complete Tenders in May 2018 where I was struggling to finish a tender due to the complexities of the finances. I called Complete tenders and Matthew dropped everything he was doing to assist and pulled the figures together in a short space of time which I then submitted on time. As a result of Matthew's intervention, we were awarded the contract in June 2018.

Andy PearmanUnited Cleaning Solutions

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At Complete Tenders we believe in helping small companies win contracts. However, few small businesses have the in-house expertise in bid management and tender writing to enable them to compete with larger organisations. Added to which, the process is a time-consuming activity that is often underestimated.

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