Choosing to respond to open public sector tender opportunities should be a strategic business decision. They require an investment of time and resources; a real commitment from you and your team to be successful, but the successes can catapult your business into the big league and ensure long-term sustainability and cash flow for years.
SMEs can often be unsure of where to begin and can often find the whole tender process daunting or overwhelming. With our experience of crafting successful bids and years spent understanding what buyers are looking to see in your answers, we have created our top six tips for setting your business up to win more contracts.
1. Be clear on what you are offering
Business owners often approach Complete Tenders and explain that they would like to win a security tender, cleaning tender, dental tender etc. This is a good start as it outlines the industry your business is in, however, to increase your chances of winning, it is better to be more specific about the services you provide. The range of tender opportunities is broad, and so the closer your services match the buyer’s requirements, the higher you are likely to score on the subsequent tender response (because you will more easily be able to demonstrate you know what you are talking about!)
If we take cleaning as an example, are you offering standard cleaning for offices and schools, bespoke decontamination cleaning for police cells, or do you offer specialised window cleaning in high rise buildings or provide deep cleaning of medical instruments.
2. Search for tender opportunities that are currently available
You may not be fully ready to tender but having a look at what is out there will allow you to see what the public sector organisations are buying and their procurement teams are looking for. You then have some market insight that helps to shape your sales strategy.
Once you find some good-looking tender opportunities, go to the appropriate portal and download all the documents relating to the tender including the tender specification. Read through these carefully, particularly the specification.
- Is your business currently able to provide the specified requirements?
- How effective and efficient is your current provision?
- If you don’t currently meet all of the need, what can you do to fill the gaps?
- Additional accreditations?
- New management information systems?
- Upgrade policies?
This then creates your action list on ‘getting tender ready’ and into position to take on your competitors.
Our Open Tenders account gives you a complete list of current UK tender opportunities. You can use this FREE for the first 30 days which will give you plenty of time to do your market research and look at what contracts are on offer.
3. Review the awarded tenders within your area
By looking at the awarded tenders, i.e. contract award notices, you can look at who has been successful in the past. Contract award notices provide useful information on the winning bidder, as well as the type and size of contract won. Understanding who your competitors are and where they are winning awards will help build your competitor analysis. It is a great way to build business confidence if you know ‘we could do better than them - and look at the size of the contract they’ve just won!’ If you find larger companies are winning contracts that include your services, there may also be the opportunity to approach them to sub-contract this new work to you e.g. Recruitment Managed Service Provider contract which includes a preferred sub-contractor/supplier list. This is a great way to build up your experience and establish strong case studies when you are ready to tender yourself.
4. Evaluate where your business is and where it needs to be for tender success
Now that you know more about what you are offering and the arena you are competing in it’s crucial that you take time to get yourself ‘tender-ready’. Businesses can often be inclined to jump straight in at this point, but Complete Tenders experience tells us that taking time to get your ‘ducks in a row’ will save you time and money down the road.
Things to look at here include your financial stability, case studies, systems, processes, policies and accreditations. Our blog, 13 Steps to Get Your Business Tender ready, will help point you in the right direction.
We also offer a Tender Readying service if you would like an impartial view on where you are and what gaps you may have.
5. Identify your core tendering team members
If you are a small business, it may well be you and you alone! But, if you have a larger team you will want to manage the work most effectively to achieve the highest quality tender, which might include spreading the work across core disciplines. Even if you decide not to write the bids and outsource them to experts like Complete Tenders, it’s key that this core team is defined so subject matter specialists can be asked about the questions pertinent to their areas of knowledge and experience.
At this point, if you are looking to outsource tender writing to a specialist team, start looking ahead of time. It’s important that you have time to find the right company for you and that you also give the company chosen plenty of time to do the initial discovery they will need to complete before getting in to the details of individual responses.
6. Set up a process to monitor open tender opportunities and make yes/no bid decisions
Once you are in a position to start looking for tender opportunities you need to decide how you are going to monitor opportunities as and when they arise and make quick decisions on whether to pursue them or not. You don’t want to leave this to chance and find your perfect opportunity only for it to be too late to submit a response that does your bid the justice that it deserves.
Tender notification services like our Open Tenders account not only give you all the current opportunities in one place, you can also search and filter the opportunities based on your needs. The Complete Tenders system also sends you a daily email detailing any new opportunities that have been released for the industry sectors you have chosen, saving significant searching time.
Responding to public sector tender opportunities can feel overwhelming; following these six steps will get you to a great place and help you start your journey with tendering on the best possible footing.
If you would like to talk through more about getting started with tendering, complete the form below and one of our team will get back to you.