Tendering for a contract is a very common way to apply (or ‘bid’) for work in the construction industry.
There are a few different procurement processes but in the main, contract opportunities are advertised on a national website where suppliers can register their interest in, and bid for, opportunities. For the majority of small business owners, tendering provides a significant opportunity to grow and expand their business, but it can also be a very time-intensive, bureaucratic process.
It’s for this reason that Louise Percy, Director of Positive About Business advises business owners to ask themselves, first and foremost, is the tender opportunity worth it?
To help decide, Louise suggests making a list of bidding pros v. bidding cons to help decide if an opportunity is right for you and your business at any given time.
“If you’re at the start of your tendering journey then it isn’t immediately going to be profitable – tendering is time consuming and you have to consider the impact of having less time to spend on your existing clients. That’s often why clients approach me; they simply lack the time to grow their own business.”
So, having asked and answered “Yes!”, here are 7 ways to win more tenders:
1. Get ready
To quote Robert Baden-Powell’s Scouting for Boys, “Be prepared”.
Most tender opportunities require very similar types of supporting documentation and having them prepared and ready to submit is a much more efficient way to embrace the process.
Don’t fall into the trap of trying to create documents or having to hunt them down at the last minute.
Instead, create your own in-house library of the following: company registration information, tax documents, insurance certificates, accreditations information, references, financial statements, company policies, and case studies of previous work.
2. Plan, plan plan
In my experience, if ‘preparation’ is King, then ‘organisation’ is Queen.
Don’t leave writing the tender to the last minute; know the deadline and have it ready to submit well in advance of it.
I’ve already listed the amount of supporting documentation that is likely to be needed, so don’t risk being caught out by a deadline date. If you prepare and organise efficiently, you’ll make fewer mistakes in your documentation. Perhaps these mistakes in hastily submitted documents have cost you previous contracts…
3. Look the part
You’ve heard the saying “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have”, now apply that to your tender submission.
Show the buyer you are someone they want to do business with. Sell yourself and your team well to beat off your competitors, make sure there are no typos in any of your documentation, use your company logo, be clear and confident on your pricing model.
Do you have a website? Is it up-to-date and showing your successfully completed projects with testimonials from happy clients? It’s important to keep your website fresh – it is, after all, the shop window to your business and you never know when buyers might peek.
4. Don’t waffle
Really look at what you are being asked and be clear and concise in your answers. Provide all the information that is requested of you and no more; don’t be tempted to provide lots of additional information or publicity material (unless they’ve been asked for).
5. Stamp of approval
If you haven’t already gained accreditations to show that you have been externally verified by certain bodies, then doing so can improve your chances of winning.
How does your health & safety measure up? Have you thought about going that extra mile in demonstrating your commitment to health & safety by applying for, for example CHAS or Achilles, certification? Can you demonstrate your business’ commitment to quality? This is a common question and if you don’t have ISO9001 but a competitor does…
In providing all the information that you have been asked, you may find that there is something you cannot provide or give evidence of.
In the majority of cases, there is usually a way to ask for advice: usually either a Q&A/Ask a Question section if the tender is online or contact information for the person handling the tender submissions is provided. Don’t be afraid to ask – you certainly won’t be the only one! Just follow the guidelines about how questions should be asked and wait for a reply.
7. Check, check, and check again
The time has come to submit.
Check and double-check your submission and if you can, have someone else read over it too as it’s easy to miss information or a simple typo when you have been embroiled in preparing a winning bid.
Before you submit, be sure you have followed all the instructions for submission to ensure you have completed the tender correctly and have all the necessary supporting documentation. Don’t forget to sign anything that should be signed and remember, incomplete or late tenders cannot be evaluated, so don’t miss out because you failed to follow the instructions.
And on a final note…
Please do check and recheck your submission. It’s also worth having a second pair of eyes to check it over. Sometimes when you are so embroiled in a tender you could miss information that someone else may spot. Recheck the instructions for submission to ensure you have completed the tender correctly and have all the necessary supporting documentation. And now breathe …
Would you like Positive About Business to help you win more tenders?
Louise Percy founded Positive About Business in 2012 to help small and medium-sized businesses start their journey to excellence and improvement.
She specialises in helping businesses create winning tender documents, and completing PQQs, achieve health & safety compliance, and gaining construction industry accreditations and standards.