If you’re new to bidding finding a relevant tender, or responding to your first bid, can be quite daunting! We’ve put together a 2 part SME guide that covers the basics of what you need to know and some helpful tips to get you started.
What are Bids and Tenders?
A bid is a tender, proposal, or quotation submitted in response to a request from a Contracting Authority. By law, Government agencies are required to issue bids publicly whenever they need a specific product or service. Tenders come in various forms, including Requests for Information (RFI), Requests for Proposals (RFP), and Requests for Quotations (RFQ).
The bidding process means that a transparent and fair procedure, based on identifying the best value for money, exists within procurement. It is a competitive process in which the companies responding must write responses based on a set of criteria, questions, method statements, and pricing.
Doing Business with Government:
The Government wants to buy from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) every time they are the best value for money. To do this, they have changed the way they buy goods and services to make bidding more SME friendly than it has been.
The Government has made changes to help SMEs bid for public sector contracts, some of these include:
- Requiring the entire public sector supply chain to be paid within 30 days
- Buying in a simpler and quicker way – E.G., by abolishing Pre-Qualification Questionnaires (PQQs) for low-value public sector contracts
- Requiring the public sector to publish its contracts on their Contracts Finder (https://www.gov.uk/contracts-finder)
Top Tips for bidding SMEs:
- Bid below the threshold – start with low-value procurements, such as opportunities under £100,000, where there are no PQQs (Pre-Qualification Questionnaires) to fill out beforehand.
- Be part of the conversation – tenders will have pre-market engagements; this is your opportunity to shape the formal tender. You should sign up for email alerts on contracts finder, monitor Prior Information Notices (PINs), and attend information days.
- Play to your strengths – SMEs can be flexible and quick to react, they’re often able to offer better prices too. Use the pre-market engagement to show this by reacting to questions quickly, and offering options and evidence of where you’ve responded to change in the past. Recognise that you are likely to be cheaper than the bigger companies but show evidence that you offer good value for money.
- Evidence matters – saying you can do something is great, being able to SHOW that you can do it is even better. Providing evidence in your bid is definitely the way to go. If you say you do something, show it, and include a screenshot or case study, if possible, this helps to support your written answer and prove that what you’re saying is true.
Top Tips for Finding Relevant Tenders:
- Use your preferred contract finder
- Filter your searches within the contracts finder to the industry you work in, as well as the type of work you do I.E, construction – roofing, scaffolding, kitchen, office fit-outs, etc…
- Search within your region(s)
- Sign up for email alerts on your chosen contract finder!
If you’re not sure which contract finder to use, use the Government one: https://www.gov.uk/contracts-finder
Should you consider bid training?
Contracts are important, they allow your company to expand and grow, but to do this, you need to ensure your bid is submitted at an extremely high quality to have the best chance of winning.
Writing tender responses to win those contracts, however, is quite complicated. The purpose of the documents is to exclude bidders, so you must understand how to read and respond to the questionnaire or tender. If you don’t fully understand them, there is a high possibility your response will be non-compliant, and you will not win the contract.
Bid writing is a skill that is difficult to self-teach without a lot of trial and error. So, if you’re looking to write your own bids, there’s no better place to start than with our SME Academy Bid Writing Training, which you can sign up for here: https://bidforsuccess.co.uk/sme-academy/
This training is delivered to you in 5 different emails, there’s a video a day for you to watch plus the occasional blog to read, you can watch/read these in your own time (there’s no deadline on when you have to finish this!) After you’ve completed this training, you can keep the videos and re-watch them whenever you feel necessary, just to keep your mind fresh.
Alternatively, you can follow our social media accounts or sign up for our SME Scholarship, which is a chance to win 2 days of FREE bid support with ourselves. Applications open on the 1st of each month and close on the 15th of each month.
Bid Terms Abbreviation List:
Throughout contract notices and tender documents, there are many abbreviations that can be quite confusing to see for first time/new bidders. Googling these abbreviations could bring up several different meanings, to make this easier for you, we’ve made the below list of the most common ones we come across:
If we’ve missed any, or there’s one or two that aren’t on this list, please feel free to contact us via email, email@example.com, or via LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram and we can let you know what they mean!
Stayed tuned for Part 2!