Tendering for Government business…why do it?
It's not just for the big boys anymore. Small business can win government business.
What does your perfect customer look like? Something like this perhaps?
◾ A large – if not the largest – customer in a small market.
◾A good repeat customer.
◾Clear as to what is required.
◾Generally pays enough and on time.
◾Often provides an opportunity to grow your business.
And what does the government want from your business?
◾Low risk, peace of mind and value for money.
◾Transparency of transactions, as the public sector is accountable to the public.
◾The opportunity for generating a positive image to the public.
◾No 'botheration' or difficult people.
Sounds good, doesn't it?
So how do you get this elusive government work? Here's a few tips from those that know.
Make your approach personal. Request a meeting with the relevant people and ask them questions. Contrary to opinion, public servants are not robots! So try to develop a relationship prior to the tender.
A couple of no-nos. Don't try political pressure or manipulation, and don't submit a tender assuming you're entitled to get the job.
Now for that pesky tender submission.
◾Read the tender documents carefully and seek clarification (that's a great meeting opportunity).
◾A detailed, thoughtful project plan is the best way to start.
◾Don't assume the assessment panel will know the job as well as you do. Explain your approach and don't leave them in any doubt as to whether you can do the job.
◾Address all merit criteria. Get help if you need it. Don't just write the same stuff over and over again.
◾You need to prove your case, not just state it.
◾Making 'pick me' claims such as, 'we're Tasmanian', 'we're local' or 'we deserve a chance' doesn't mean anything. You need to show how the government will benefit from it.
Personal spin is important, but only if you can back it up. This is no time to be a shrinking violet!
Be clear about what is unique or different about your business from your competitors. Demonstrate your project experience and show off your knowledge of industry trends. Point out how what you are offering is:
◾valuable (the same as everyone else)
◾rare (a bit better than your competitors)
◾hard to copy (a lot better than your competitors)
◾non-substitutable (no one else can offer what you can).
And in the end?
If you're successful – brilliant! Do the best job you can. If not, don't go down the 'we was robbed' route. It takes too much time, money and energy. Instead, ask for a debrief, take it on board and start looking for the next job.
All government tenders are advertised, so keep an eye open on www.tenders.tas.gov.au. We've recently run statewide workshops called Tendering Basics. You'll find the presentation notes on Business Tasmania and there will be more workshops next year. We'll send you an email when we have the dates, if you give us your details here.
Warren Moore's presentation 'How to win Government Tenders and Influence People' was the inspiration for this article. Warren has Moore Consulting in Burnie and is one of our Enterprise Centre Tasmania small business advisors. Thank you Warren!