By entering the world of bidding for public sector tenders, you’re giving your business the opportunity to reap the benefits of long-term stability, new revenue streams, corporate growth, expansion, and so much more. Here, we explain why you should consider tendering for public contracts, how to write a compelling bid, and some of our top tips for winning your dream contract.
What are the benefits of winning public sector tenders?
Although public sector tenders have long been a favourite for larger businesses, the government has recently taken steps to ensure that more SMEs can access and win these valuable contracts, with the UK government promising £88 billion to be spent through SMEs this year. The benefits of diversifying your customer base through public sector contracts are plentiful, and here’s why.
- Securing a pipeline of work
Since Covid-19, the private sector has experienced a marked decline in the number of private sector contracts available. If businesses are to continue to grow after this impact, then they need to identify new sources of stable income. By bidding and winning public sector contracts, SMEs can guarantee themselves a secure pipeline of work from reliable organisations, ensuring longevity and ultimately, economic recovery. Although the private sector can produce lucrative projects, there is no guarantee the work will always be there.
- Favourable payment terms
Since 2019, the UK government had guaranteed that their suppliers be paid 100% of what they’re owed within 30 days. By ensuring prompt payment, it helps to support the supplier’s cashflow, business performance, and productivity. No late payments!
- Gain experience and grow your business
By winning contracts to supply goods or services to a public body, your business can increase your revenues, cement your reputation as a supplier, and attract and retain great staff. The guaranteed revenue that the public sector provides gives your business the breathing room it needs to support longevity and operational growth.
How to write a winning bid
Writing compelling and winning quality responses to tenders is vital to your tender process. After all, the whole aim of getting involved with public sector tenders is to win them! Before you start, make sure:
- You know your deadlines
Time management/bad timing can be a huge problem for bid writers. Before you get started, make sure you double check your deadline and read the tender timetable so you can start planning effectively.
- Assess and digest
Before you leap into the application process, take the time to digest the details of the project and what it entails, making sure that your company is truly the best fit. Even if you decide not to go with the project, eventually it will save you time and money instead of applying for a project you weren’t suitable for.
- Do your research
It’s vital that whoever is writing the bid to research the buyer and understand what the company usually looks for, what they value, and how they can best procure the required service. It’s also important for the bid writer to research the competition to spot weaknesses, working them into your strengths to give you the competitive advantage.
- Think ABC, ‘Accurate, Brief and Concise’
Time and time again, too many bids are written with generic ‘fluff’ instead of the specifics about how you’re going to procure the required service, and why you’re the best fit. Buyers don’t want to read paragraphs full of well written prose, they want numbers and hard facts. When you’re writing a bid, get straight to the point and tell them exactly how you’re going to deliver the project.
However, make sure you achieve a balance. Don’t fill your bid with industry jargon the buyer won’t understand, make your content accessible and easy to understand.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread
Even if you’ve written a great bid, silly spelling mistakes and bad grammar won’t come off well to the buyer; it implies carelessness and a lack of attention to detail. Before you submit your bid, make sure you’ve proofread it more than once.
Our top tips on how to win public sector tenders
- Introduce yourself
There has never been a better time for SMEs to get involved in tendering for public sector work, and the government is just dying to fulfil their needs through SMEs. If you’re considering tendering for a particular project, take the time to introduce yourself and your organisation to the buyer as early as you can so that they can get familiar with what you do and what you have to offer. Following this, conduct some market research to find out who your potential competitors are, and how you can play their weaknesses against your strengths.
- Start small, then go big
If you want to build up your public sector portfolio gradually, starting on the smaller side can be a good way to go. For lower value contracts, the government does not require a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ). This simplifies the application process, which works in an SME’s favour as they may not have the resource available that larger businesses have.
By beginning with smaller contracts, it also gives you time to build on your experience so that you’ll have a better chance of winning larger contracts in the future.
- Be picky
When it comes to bidding for tenders, it’s key to pick and choose the best projects that mirror your long-term strategy. For every bid/no-bid decision that arises, think critically about whether or not the project in question can help you to achieve your long-term business goals, taking these factors into careful consideration before making your ultimate decision.
- Ask for feedback
You’re not going to win every tender you bid on, but that’s okay! If you do miss out, ask the supplier what you might have done differently so you can learn from the process.
Another great tip is to keep a record of any contracts you’ve bid on in the past. Not only will this help you with your bid/no bid decisions, it will also help you see what may have caused you to lose out on the bid and help you to write more successful bids in the future.
HLA Services, facilities management and maintenance business based in Sunderland, won several contracts with their local universities and police force with OPPORTUNI. Neil Henry, Director and Co-Founder of HLA Services said: “We found the options opened up to us by OPPORTUNI much more in-depth and relevant than any of the other search engines that were out there.The government and local authority contracts we have won through OPPORTUNI have given us stability within the company for long term planning.