More and more private companies and public sector organisations are outsourcing the maintenance of their grounds or estates as they either don’t have (or want) the expertise in-house.
There is the expense of dedicated staff and equipment and the costs of the systems and processes required to manage things properly that all need to be considered. As a result, there are a lot of opportunities for grounds maintenance companies to grow their business as tendering tends to be the main way these organisations will buy their grounds maintenance services. Trees, plants and grass don’t stop growing so there are regular contracts up for grabs, and hopefully your business can grow too.
Along with the opportunities comes competition, so you’re likely to be up against a lot of other grounds maintenance companies when trying to find work. As our title suggests, grounds maintenance tenders are about much more than mowing the lawn, so you need to make sure your tender responses are the best they can be. Some ideas on how to produce an outstanding grounds maintenance tender are set out below.
Get your business in shape and ready for grounds maintenance tenders
If you haven’t tendered before (or even if you have), a good place to start is by making sure that your business is in the best shape possible for tendering. Grounds maintenance tenders are likely to ask questions on topics including Health & Safety, environmental awareness and staff qualifications/training. Ask yourself:
- Is your Health & Safety policy up to date and reviewed regularly?
- Can you evidence that?
- Do you provide your staff with appropriate PPE?
- Are your risk assessments and method statements documented and used?
- Is your Environmental Policy up to date and reviewed regularly?
- What environmentally friendly processes and procedures do you follow, and can you evidence them (e.g. waste management, consumables)?
- Do your staff hold any formal qualifications?
- Do you have a written training policy and career progression opportunities?
- Have any of your existing management staff worked their way up through the business?
- Does your business hold any certifications (e.g. ISO 14001, ISO 9001, Investors in People etc)? If not, it can be worth investigating whether these will help you win the type of grounds maintenance tenders you want to win.
Figure out your Unique Selling Point (USP)
When responding to a tender you need to make sure the buyer understands your USP and what advantages/benefits awarding the tender to your company will provide. Are you a local company employing local people that cares about the local community? Do you embrace new technology and use it to save time and money? You need to figure out your value proposition and why the tender should go to you. What makes you different and ultimately better than your competition? Then – get that point across throughout the answers in your tender (but without being negative about the competition!).
Find the right tender
Now your business is in good shape and you understand what makes you different from the competition, you need to find that perfect tender . Think about what would comprise your perfect grounds maintenance tender and analyse all potential tenders against those criteria. Think about value, location, services required, deadline for submission and pricing.
Don’t limit yourself to public sector contracts only – there are many private sector grounds maintenance contracts as well. Due to the very nature of the business there are many private estates and private estate management companies that will look for suppliers through a formal tender process. There are differences between public and private sector contracts, but the fundamental tendering process remains broadly the same.
Finding a private sector contract isn’t as straightforward as finding a public sector one as they’re not all advertised in one place. You’ll have to be pro-active and, for example, phone property management companies and ask if there are any opportunities in their pipeline, and what the process is for you to be added to their preferred supplier list. You could call estate/factory owners and ask if you can quote to look after the grounds, subcontract to a larger facilities management company, start networking, or contact the large contractors who look after large public areas and properties (e.g. Cushman & Wakefield, CBRE) so you can get on their distribution list when they go out to tender.
Writing a winning response
When it comes to the actual writing of the response, make sure you read the questions carefully and answer them in full each time. Refer to any relevant previous grounds maintenance experience when responding, to prove that you have the skills and expertise to carry out the contract. If you don’t already have customer testimonials, start collecting them. You’ll also need names and contact details for references.
If the tender documentation offers a site visit, take advantage of it. You should be used to site visits to quote for jobs anyway and the more you know about the site(s) and the buyer, the better able you will be to understand what they’re looking for and address their needs in your tender response. If the documentation doesn’t suggest a visit, ask if you can visit anyway. This also provides a vital opportunity to meet the buyer and ask them questions.
Ensure your response demonstrates that you have robust contract management processes, a clear organisational structure and corresponding lines of communication. Include the experience that your account managers have of previous similar contracts. Show how your quality assurance processes ensure the grounds you maintain are always to an excellent standard. Describe the technology you use to manage your service delivery and the management reports you provide that show the buyer how you meet your performance targets. Highlight your adherence to the SLA (Service Level Agreement) and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) on previous/current contracts.
Re-assuring the buyer that you provide a quality grounds maintenance service will also be key. They need to be confident that your staff will turn up on site each day, and provide a timely, quality service using the best materials and equipment. Do you have any quality assurance accreditation? How do you deal with feedback, complaints, or problems? Do you go back to site straight away to remedy? If you have any evidence that you’ve responded to previous feedback to improve the quality of your service, include it.
Finally, and confirming that grounds maintenance tenders are about much more than mowing the lawn, buyers 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, patients etc. You are likely to need to answer questions on innovation and enhancement and will need to highlight the service improvements you’re going to make over the length of the contract. Make sure you show evidence of how your innovative methods have been used to save your other customers money or deliver a better quality service.
If you need help and support with any aspect of Grounds Maintenance tenders, from getting your business in shape, to finding a tender, to writing a winning response, Complete Tenders are here to help. We offer a variety of services including our Tender Tracker service where we search open tenders for that perfect opportunity for your business, to our tender writing services where we work with you to craft winning tender responses, to the full bid management service where we provide you with an end-to-end tendering process experience to maximise your return on investment and deliver significant growth.