Tenders for Private Sector Contracts

Private sector tenders are a fantastic opportunity to develop your business in a different way from the traditional sales and marketing channels. They also offer scope to supply a far greater range of products and services that don’t fit into the public sector market.
Private sector tenders are similar to public sector tenders but with some key differences and challenges due to differing priorities and regulations. Our team of senior tender writing consultants has extensive experience in winning private sector contracts and can supply your business with everything it needs to prepare an outstanding tender. Make sure your business competes successfully and wins more private sector tenders.
Search For Open Tenders Now

Challenges of tendering for private sector contracts

Although the general process of tendering in the private sector is like that in the public sector, i.e. has a specification, a response and an assessment, there are some key differences:

  • There is no legal requirement to publish private sector tenders on a central noticeboard or make the opportunity public. As a result, private sector buyers can choose who to send their tender invitations to. It is usually down to their own procurement policy as to whether they go to the whole of the market or select a representative proportion of suppliers to tender.
  • As there is no central notification system, there is more work to do to find relevant private sector tender opportunities. This can be advantageous as not everyone will be aware.
  • Private sector tenders won’t follow the same formula as public sector tenders, e.g. the standard SQ (Selection Questionnaire) or ESPD (European Single Procurement Document) familiar to regular public sector tenderers is unlikely to be used. However, most diligent private sector businesses will want suppliers to meet similar requirements and meet at least some minimum criteria, e.g. financial stability.
  • Evaluation and scoring schemes in the private sector may not be as robust or as strict as those in the public sector, nor do they have to be disclosed in advance. The buyer is usually at liberty to assess potential bids however they want (this is often in the small print!) so its critical to understand exactly where the buyer is coming from.
  • As requirements may not be as rigorous, private sector tenders may be easier for smaller businesses to comply with.
  • Private sector tenders may be more exacting and less altruistic in their requirements as they are not bound by the underlying ethos of public-mindedness. It may therefore be easier to get to the heart of their buying motivation.
  • Pricing can hold more weight in the private sector as private sector organisations are naturally more commercially minded and focused on increasing returns for their owners or shareholders. There may also be price negotiations and blatant requests to revise fee proposals between buyer and potential supplier(s).
  • Private sector organisations are not bound by the same fairness and transparency directives as the public sector. As such, it is up to each buyer to be as fair and transparent as they like when issuing any feedback on your bid. The better organisations will recognise the value of lessons learnt and provide a good level of detail.
  • There is no requirement in the private sector to publish contract award notifications, so it is more difficult to use this process to approach winning bidders for sub-contracting opportunities.

Once these differences are understood and considered when preparing a tender, winning a private sector contract can be very financially rewarding.  Private sector contracts are just that, they are down to the buyer and supplier coming to a mutually beneficial arrangement.  Unlike the public sector, long-term relationships can be formed, without the threat of having to re-issue, re-tender and re-win your contract regularly.

Top tips for winning private sector contracts:

1

Ensure you obtain notification about available tenders

As there is no central noticeboard for the publishing of private sector tenders, the first challenge is to ensure you are aware of opportunities. You can do this in a number of ways, for example by building relationships with potential buyers, reviewing adverts in local and national newspapers or trade publications, and by networking with other business owners locally. Find out how your target market procures the services you provide – do they have a ‘Preferred Supplier List’ (PSL)? Check UK Contracts Finder for opportunities to subcontract to recent winners of government contracts. Depending on your business, it may be possible to find secondary opportunities if new building development takes place or a large company expands for example (such as cleaning services, equipment/office supplies, recruitment, electrics, grounds maintenance, facilities management).
2

Understand the process

Private sector tenders can be run differently than public sector tenders so make sure you fully understand the exact process being used and the corresponding timescales. How will you submit your bid? When is the deadline? Can you ask clarification questions? If so, how? Can you arrange a site visit? Is there a pre-tender meeting/presentation to attend? Will you need to present your bid in person? How will the bids be evaluated and scored? Will the buyer use a robust set of scoring criteria? Have they stated how they will ensure fairness and non-bias? Clarifying all this up front can ease the stress of tendering and ensures you can plan your time effectively. Be wary of any procurement exercise that does not confirm in advance how they will evaluate your tender.
3

Differentiate your business and your bid from your competitors

Submitting a unique offering that sets you apart from your competitors will make a big difference when tendering in the private sector. Always highlight the added-value products or services that are included in the price within your bid. Remember the format, structure and marking criteria won’t necessarily be as strict as in the public sector so really try to make your bid stand out. What do you offer that your competitors don’t? Do you have innovative ideas that can be implemented on this contract? Use proven experience and show how well you have achieved success for your other customers to convince they buyer you can achieve success for them too.
4

Research your buyer

Do as much research into the buyer as you can. Do they have a mission statement or company values? Can you demonstrate that your business and your offer is aligned with their values? Are they big on Corporate Social Responsibility or are they more focused on making clients happy? Try to get to the heart of their motivation, and specifically the motivations of the people evaluating your tender. Emphasise the benefits that a partnership with your company would bring to them. Ensure your bid shows that you have spent time and effort researching the buyer and understanding their business and their needs.
5

Check for any specific requirements

The requirements specification may be exacting but may also be either overly-complex or overly imprecise. Make sure you understand all the requirements and every question and ensure your response reflects your ability to meet (or exceed) them. Question any and all uncertainties and if you can meet or speak to the buyer prior to submitting your bid, do so; this shows proactiveness and can only increase your understanding of what they need.
6

Get your pricing right

The pricing of the tender will obviously have a lot of influence in how your bid is evaluated in the private sector. Get an understanding of your competitors’ pricing if you can; do your own benchmarking exercises. The buyer won’t necessarily go for the cheapest product/service, but if there are very similar bids in terms of the offering, price is likely to be key. You may want to offer discounts or innovative ideas for delivering long-term value that your competitors won’t have thought of.
7

People buy from people

Most private sector tenders will ask questions about the staff and resources you will use to deliver the contract. This is an excellent opportunity to show who you are and the proven experience of your key staff, including the rationale for why they are the ideal choice to service the buyer’s requirements. Make sure if there is a presentation, these staff attend and are involved in the demonstration of who you are and how capable your business is.
Get Started

Search for LIVE open tenders now

Search for Open Tenders

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. I am confident that Complete tenders will help us grow our business significantly over the foreseeable future and look forward to what can be achieved. I would not hesitate in recommending Complete Tenders to any organisation that has growth at the heart of their business strategy.

Andy PearmanUnited Cleaning Solutions

Tailored support throughout the entire tendering process

Speak to our senior tender writing specialists

Let our experts do the work for you! Our talented team can product contract-winning responses for your business.

Tender Writing Services
Sign up for the Personal Tender Tracker

Receive a shortlist of the most suitable tenders, tailored to your specific business needs and capabilities.

Sign Up Today