***Guest blog post by Lisa Nardone, Director, Grantsplus Consulting Pty Ltd – on tendering
If you’ve never written a tender before, it can be daunting just to even think about where to start. The tender information looks overwhelming; you know the competition will be extreme and you’ve got no idea what to put into responses. On top of it all, you’ve got a business that won’t run itself while you bash away on a computer for days on end!
Relax folks, it’s not quite as scary as you may think. Writing a strong submission of any kind is really just about telling the story of your business, services and your point-of-difference, in a way that gets you noticed (for all the right reasons, of course). It’s about demonstrating that you, better than anyone, can meet the needs of procuring agency and provide value, quality and service. And you KNOW you can.
To help you take that first step, I’ve put together a few simple yet important tips you may like to think about, as you find, plan, prepare and polish your first (or twenty-first) tender submission.
10 Hints & Tips on Tendering
1. Don’t know where to look? Register on key procurement sites to have tender information sent straight to your inbox.
Most Councils and government agencies in Queensland, for example, list their offers to quote or tenders on sites like Vendorpanel, QTender or Local Buy, but you can also check local Council or Department websites for procurement updates.
2. Plan early, submit early
The Tender/Quotation Specifications, FAQ’s and forms contain all the information you need, so plan your bid early. Determine your position, list any questions, map out critical dates and highlight mandatory information and attachments so nothing is left until the last minute. Aim to submit your application at least 1 day before it’s due, especially if using an online submission portal with their pesky technical glitches.
3. Always use the most up to date forms & information
Only use the forms/templates provided. Be aware that Tender/Quotation information may be updated from time to time and ‘addendums’ proving more information may be added. Always check addendum notifications to see if they’re relevant; send any questions through to the tender team before the question cut-off date, and review any updated Frequently Asked Questions too
4. Mandatory is ‘mandatory’, but ‘optional’ should never be optional!
Most tender forms have mandatory and optional criteria and attachments. Mandatory parts are usually marked and contain keywords like ‘will’, ‘must’, ‘shall’. ANSWER. EVERY. QUESTION – skipping anything mandatory will result in your tender being deemed ‘non-conforming’. Optional questions or attachments should be answered too, unless totally, absolutely and undeniably irrelevant to you. They are an opportunity to share extra relevant information about your business and value-adds, to help you stand out above your competitors.
5. Answer the criteria with the assessment in mind
Remember that the tender is about how you can best meet/exceed the procuring agency’s needs – your answers should be written to demonstrate what you can do for your customer, quantified if possible. Treat each criteria with equal importance unless weightings are given and make sure everything you write is relevant to the criteria/question being asked.
6. Be clear and succinct
Regardless of whether Tender Specifications and forms are provided or not, your information needs to be relevant, clear and well-structured. Use conversational language and avoid jargon; think about the flow of information and concepts; and provide a clear introductory and closing statement to each response. Use a mix of dot points, block text or visual aides (tables, graphs, infographics); and refer to attachments to provide extra information.
7. Demonstrate ‘value for money’
This doesn’t necessarily mean discounting your services or offering the lowest bid. You can discuss cost factors like up-front price, whole of life costs, cost-saving and maintenance; but also consider non-price costs such as quality, delivery, after-sales service and sustainability impacts. Think about how you offer the buyer better value than your competitor or what you can include as an attractive ‘value-add’.
8. Inform, don’t assume
Tell the story of your business in a way that is memorable and don’t just assume the assessor will know your business. Talk about your people, your track record, your awards, your big wins. Use testimonials or case studies if you’re able to. If you’ve worked with the buyer previously, say so and highlight the positives from the experience.
9. Proofread / use a ‘critical friend’
Make sure your bid looks and sounds professional. Review for understanding and typo’s and check your figures! Not everyone is a writer and that’s ok, but most people know someone who can spot a spelling mistake or misplaced comma from ten paces. Using a critical friend with fresh eyes to proof your tender will help with that final polish.
10. Be visible and visibly consistent
Include a well-written Capability Statement in your submission and make sure it’s also visible on your website. Update your online presence including social media, to ensure your branding and information is consistent and supports the core values and messaging of your tender. Don’t let a sloppy digital presence bring you down!
These tips are useful for any type of submission you need to write – whether it’s public or private tenders, grants or another type of bid. You know your business better than anyone, so you CAN do this, but if you’d rather not, we can help you. Using our services is one way to take the stress off your own shoulders and let you get back to running your business. While there’s never any guarantee of success, we make it our business to help you get that tender positioned, written and submitted – on time, within budget and to a level that helps get you noticed After all, for us “it’s about standing out…”.
Check out my business coaching services.