So you want to win more tenders. But you’re not quite sure what’s the best way to go about it. To clear things up and help you put yourself in the best position possible, we’ve put together some practical advice on what you need to do to win more of these contracts.
In the UK a tender refers to a type of public or private project contract that businesses compete for. Once agreed upon, the winning business will be paid to complete the project as outlined in the terms of the tender.
Tendering is a method large organisations and businesses use to select the best available service provider to complete the large-scale work they need done. For example, large-scale construction projects will likely be put to tender.
Tendering can occur in both the public and private sectors.
In general, tendering is more common in the public sector as it is a requirement that all public sector contracts are put to tender, whereas this isn’t the case in the private sector.
As a general rule, you can expect a more balanced and fair selection process in the public sector. This is because public tenders are required to be freely accessible and allocated based on a fair and balanced process that rewards on merit. Private tenders don’t have to meet these requirements.
Public tenders are also far more common as tendering is a requirement for public businesses, whereas many private companies do not choose their service provision via tender.
In the public sector tenders are awarded based on a number of factors including the price quoted for the work and a company’s past experience managing similar projects.
Private tenders also take into account price and experience, however, they can also be influenced by other less tangible factors such as reputation, business philosophy and what established connections exist between the two companies.
The tendering process follows consistent recognisable steps:
In the private sector these steps may vary slightly:
These steps can vary slightly from business to business but will broadly follow the same pattern.
If you want to make more successful applications and win more tenders there are a number of steps you can take to better prepare your business to succeed.
We have broken these down into 12 key factors outlined below, plus additional tips for when bidding for private tenders.
Before you make your bid you should first check that your company and your provisions align with the requirements of the tender.
On the surface, the tender presented may appear to be a good fit, but sometimes the detail may reveal that it is not.
Understand what the requirements are and make sure these match up with your capacity to deliver said requirements.
You should also take into account how badly you need the work and how much time, capacity and money you’re willing to put into it. If it’s going to be a long and expensive job, it may not be worth it if you have other jobs coming in.
Tied to alignment, make sure you understand the business you are seeking to win the bid from.
The more you understand who the business is and what they’re looking for, the easier you will find it to create a bid that is appealing to them.
Research online, read up about the company and find out about the people who will be assessing your bid. All this information is valuable and can help to create a highly tailored bid that meets the requirements needed.
This is even more important for private tenders
Where possible, find out who your competitors are. Or, if you don’t know them exactly, imagine what kinds of competitors you might be going up against and build a profile of their strengths and weaknesses.
Understanding this can help you to better construct your own bid, tailoring it to highlight your strengths where your competitors are weak and dumbing down your weaknesses where your competitors are strong.
This competitor analysis is of even greater importance when trying to win private contracts.
When making your bid it is very important that you calculate your prices accurately. Take the time to account for all the different aspects of the job and consider the variables that go into it.
The more accurate you can be the happier the customer will be. You should also aim to separate out your labour and materials where possible, making things as clear and transparent as possible.
You also need to consider how high or low you want to price. You should bear in mind that public organisations are legally required to exclude bids that are deemed “Abnormally low” if there is no sufficient explanation and justification for the price.
We cover some of the aspects of the quoting process that you should consider in our blog on how to price a job.
This is about attention to detail and ensuring you deliver your message with clarity. Don’t overcomplicate things or add irrelevant information. Your bid should get straight to the point and explain what you can offer as clearly as possible.
As part of this always ensure you answer the questions that are provided. Don’t try and sidestep the question, you want to make it as effortless as possible for your bid to be assessed.
It is also very important that you ensure you have addressed the easy wins; your spelling and grammar should be spot on and ensure you use the correct company name in your bid.
Make sure you use the correct documentation and formatting when presenting your bid.
It’s important to remember that your bid is assessed by humans, and subliminal messaging does have an effect (even if subconscious).
This means making sure your documentation is formatted in an appealing and professional way.
You should always use the correct tender document - ie the one that has been provided and don’t send a PDF document that can’t be used.
All your references should be relevant and up to date. Don’t just choose your best customers, provide references from businesses that are related to the project you are trying to win.
The more relevant and closely related to the tender, the better your chance of winning the bid. This is a chance to show your credentials and prove you’re up to the job.
This is where you can separate yourself from the competition. What is your point of difference, how can you stand out?
Focus on what your super strength is, what can you deliver better than anyone else and show why that is of value to the company you’re trying to win.
Draw on the expertise of employees and departments in your business. For example, if you have an HR or health and safety department then they are likely to know the best way to explain health and safety in a way that makes your bid look professional and informed.
This is about showing that you are a stable and professional business. Make sure you are transparent and clear and present your finances and projections in a manner that reassures any assessor that you have the means to deliver the job.
If there is any doubt over whether your business is financially up to the task, then it makes it highly unlikely you will win.
Once you send a tender it is stored securely and not looked at until the cut-off deadline has been reached. This ensures that all bids are considered at the same time. Any tender received after the deadline will not be looked at or considered.
Make sure you submit your bid in good time and don’t leave it to the last minute. Being prompt and reliable helps to build a perception that you are an organised and efficient business.
You should also ensure your bid has been signed. It may seem like a small detail but it is important.
Whatever the outcome, whether you win the tender or not, you should always ask for feedback.
This can help you to improve your application next time or replicate and further perfect your process if you are successful.
If you want to consistently win the bid, the best way to learn is to take on feedback and implement changes to make your bidding process the best possible.
To win private tenders, there are a couple of additional points you should consider:
Networking is a very important, if not essential, part of winning private tenders.
Take the time to research the business that’s offering the tender. Check out their website and social media channels and try to build connections.
It’s also worth planning ahead and looking long-term.
Even if you don’t win the contract the first time, work on building a positive relationship with the company advertising the tender. Down the line, if they work on another project you’ll be higher up in the running, or they might recommend you to other similar businesses.
It’s important you understand the motivations behind why a contract has gone to tender.
Do your research and check to ensure the business is genuinely considering you as an option or if they’re just using the tendering process as a means to drive prices down with a current supplier.
Remember private tenders are far less common than public tenders, so always treat these tenders with a degree of caution.
After winning a tender, the winning company is awarded the contract to provide goods or services as outlined in the tender document.
They will then enter into a formal agreement with the organisation that issued the tender and begin the process of fulfilling the contract. This may include providing a performance bond, completing necessary paperwork, and adhering to specific guidelines and regulations.
You should always make sure that you understand the full terms of the tender contract before beginning any new project. Remember that any changes to the terms of the bid you submitted could make your contract invalid and the business offering the tender could reopen the selection process.
If ever you get stuck, a good way to think about the tendering process is to imagine you are applying and interviewing for a job.
Your aim is to prove to the employer that you’re a good fit. You need to show what makes you stand out and what experience you have. You need to show why you align with their company values and how you can add to their business.
Using this thought process and referring to it as you prepare your bid, will ensure that you put your business in the best place possible to win.