The uncertainties facing many small businesses can be resolved with the security of a local government contract.
If you have found local government work to be elusive in the past, now is the time to improve your capacity to win the next relevant contract.
At Infodec Communications we have been working with the Office of the Small Business Commissioner to provide input as part of their Local Procurement Pilot.
We believe that effective communications strategies are vital for winning government contracts and tenders that provide financial security.
Contracts (smaller value purchases)
An interesting development for small business in NSW is that “In June 2019 local government procurement regulations changed making it possible for Councils to purchase products and services of up to $250,000 without going to tender”. The Request for Quote (RFQ) process has opened up opportunities for many small-scale operators who might not have the resources for a formal tender bid but are adept and flexible and can meet Council needs with local goods or services.
When making these smaller value purchases, Council officers can directly approach potential suppliers. They can issue a Request for Quote (RFQ), which does not need to be advertised.
Councils might also maintain a ‘panel’ of registered suppliers who they can quickly contact for quotes.
The NSW Office of Small Business advises, “Contact the Economic Development Officer or relevant manager at the Council for the area where your business can provide services (e.g. parks and maintenance, office services, community events etc.).”
Arm your business with a comprehensive company profile or ‘capability statement’ before you contact the council. A capability statement shows your prospective client that you have the experience and capacity to service their contract. It should address issues such as your team, their experience and qualifications, who you have worked with as well as some testimonials.
A sample of a recent capability statement that we have completed for a client is here.
- Contact your Council to get your business on supplier lists. Also find out about any relevant Regional Organisation of Councils (ROC), Joint Organisations (JO) or buying groups in your local area
- Ask your local Council whether there are any current Request for Quote (RFQ) opportunities
- Download a copy of the Council’s purchasing policies and procedures
- Find out when councils plan to advertise for panels relevant to your business offering
- Prepare a company profile/ capability statement to go with your Request for Quote (RFQ) response documents
- Attend any Council-run public information sessions related to the RFQ
- Attend local council and chamber of commerce events to learn about upcoming business opportunities and network with government and business contacts.
Tender opportunities are widespread for all levels of government work, but for your business to make a strong bid your communication skills and commitment to preparation must be strong.
The local council document warns, “Tender responses can be particularly complex and time-consuming. Before you submit a response, it is worth considering the time it may take you away from servicing your existing customers and clients.”
It also advises, “Consider collaborating or partnering with other small and larger businesses to submit a proposal or bid.”
“For work valued at $250,000 or more (and sometimes less) Councils are required to go to tender. They often use organisations approved to conduct tenders on their behalf (e.g. Local Government Procurement, Procurement Australia).”
Read ‘Doing business with your local Council’ for an outline of local government tender processes.
A tender response form is often included in the process. Since this form aids Councils in comparing submissions by scoring each answer, make sure you answer every question on the form and submit your response in the required format.
There are often word count limits that apply to online tender submission.
Tailor the prepared company profile or ‘capability statement’ to match the tender requirements. For example, give local government projects more prominence and highlight the capabilities of your business that are pertinent to the contract.
Infodec Communications has an experienced and multi-skilled team who can guide you through the Tender documents and ensure you have professional tender documents that transform your business’s bid into winning material. We have worked with clients to win successful tenders from the Federal Department of Defence, NSW Attorney General’s Department and the NSW Department of Industry.
Improving your ability to describe your company in Tender terms is key. Joanne Ryan from Infodec has delivered tender writing training courses for the Sutherland Shire Council.
- Register with your Council to receive tender documents and be eligible to submit responses
- Register your business on tender portals (at no cost) to receive tender alerts
- Check newspapers and websites for tender opportunities and examples of past tenders that can be informative
- For each tender, first review the terms and conditions to be sure your business is eligible to put in a bid. Also review the Council’s purchasing policy
- Review any draft contracts that are offered and if you don’t understand it then seek the advice of your lawyer
- Keep monitoring the Tender terms as these are often amended before the closing date. If you start the tender you will be advised when questions are asked by other bidders, so keep track to ensure that you don’t miss anything
- Tailor your company profile/ capability statement to go with your Tender bid documents
- Try a tender writing course to immerse yourself in the process
- Engage professionals to help produce and review bid material, such as a communications specialists to write and proofread your bid documents, an accountant for the budget, an insurance broker for insurances, and a lawyer to go through details of any posted contract
- Attend any Council-run public information sessions related to the tender
- Attend local council and chamber of commerce events to learn about upcoming tender opportunities and make contacts – including other businesses that potentially can collaborate with yours for joint venture tender bids.
It is possible to replicate some elements for future tenders and if you aren’t successful make sure you get feedback so you can strengthen elements of your tender application for future opportunities that may arise.