New and smaller businesses frequently get in touch to ask how they can get started with public sector tendering.
Our website has a useful guide to getting ready to tender called Fit to Tender Checklist. Not only does it show what you need to start tendering, it also explains some of the barriers.
Barriers to Public Sector Tendering
Larger public sector tenders often require the following information
- 2-3 years accounts – this proves that your company is financially stable
- A minimum turnover – the aim is to avoid awarding a contract to a small firm that cannot take on the additional work (the new 2018 Procurement Regulations state that the contract value cap cannot not exceed 50% of company turnover)
- Public sector client references for similar contracts – evidence that your company has successfully provided this type of work to the public sector
These can be barriers to businesses that are young or small. If you don’t have a track record of working for public sector customers, it often seems like the proverbial chicken and the egg… How can I win this contract if I don’t have any customers in the public sector?
How to Get Started With Public Sector Tendering
There are no quick fixes to be able to compete for larger contracts, but you need to start somewhere. All the solutions take time but are pretty simple:
- Increase sales – your turnover will become higher enabling you to bid for bigger contracts in due course
- Go for lower value work – start building up your portfolio of public sector customers and references
- Collaborate with others – consider joint ventures, partnerships or sub-contracting to get a foothold
There’s another useful guide on our website: How to Find Public Sector Tenders Free. It explains how to find both high and low value tender opportunities. You will see that Contracts Finder allows you to search for low value public sector tenders which start at £10,000. However, there are so many sub-£10k purchases made every day. These don’t get advertised so you need to make contact with local councils, housing associations, hospitals etc. Find out how they deal with procuring the products or services and try and get an opportunity to quote.
Councils and other authorities often have a web-page called something like Doing business with XYZ Council. It will detail the different types of procurement used depending on the order value.
Some products or services are tied up in authority-wide contracts. This is quite common for construction industry services, cleaning, security etc. But you can often still find other opportunities e.g. academy schools and colleges may choose to do their own purchasing.
These all take time and effort but will help you to get started with public sector tendering. As your business grows and references expand, you then get in a far better position to compete to win larger public sector tenders.
Feel free to add your ideas and experiences.