Hudson’s top tips: How to tender for work…and be successful
Let’s start from the beginning
“How to tender for work” is a popular Google search – and for good reason. When first tackling the tendering process, you may realise that the procedure is more complex than you imagined.
After almost two decades in the world of tendering, Hudson has supported numerous businesses. From submitting their first bid to delivering contracts for multiple authorities, they have helped over 700 companies, globally.
In this blog, the Hudson Team will breakdown the nine steps that you are most likely to face when tendering for work. This is commonly the process in the public sector. Private sector organisations aren’t bound by the same regulations. Private buyers can simply ask for quotes and base their decision on this alone. With publicly-funded bodies the process has to be more fair. Public sector tendering opportunities are usually published in the public domain and the process requires a more transparent approach.
Step 1 – Company analysis
Before you even research “how to tender for work”, you need to understand the position of your business. This involves undergoing a brief company analysis. This analysis should look into the following;
- The company’s turnover;
- Your experience and the experience of your employees;
- The goals of the business in the near future, and;
- The work you will need to deliver in order to achieve these goals.
Once you have analysed these aspects of your business, you can assess your eligibility. Your economic financial standing will be determined by your turnover.
As a general rule of thumb, Hudson never advise bidding for a contract with a value of more than half your turnover. For example, if you turnover £100,000 we would only advise tendering for contracts with a maximum value of £50,000.
Your experience is also crucial to consider. The team always advise that buyers usually ask for three relevant case studies. If you can’t provide these examples, it’s likely that this will hinder your chances of winning the contract. Your competitors will be providing examples that showcase them in the best light – make sure you do the same.
Step 2 – Opportunity tracking
In the UK, buyers can use thousands of sources to publish new tendering opportunities. In order to ensure you never miss an opportunity, daily tracking is required. This is a full-time job. Hudson’s team of opportunity trackers do this daily.
Hudson Discover is where they house their 11 sector-specific tendering portals. These sectors consist of;
- Creative Tenders
- Healthcare Tenders
- Facilities Tenders
- Construction Tenders
- Technology Tenders
- Logistics Tenders
- Research Tenders
- Consultancy Tenders
- HR Tenders
- Finance Tenders
- Hospitality Tenders
Every day, their opportunity trackers manually search for new listings from thousands of sources, both public and private. Once they have identified new tendering opportunities, they upload them to the relevant portal. The tenders are then categorised using industry-led keywords. This allows their clients to simply login, enter their keywords and instantly find relevant opportunities. Their clients also receive an email alert each time relevant tenders are uploaded.
Step 3 – Registering interest
Once you have identified an opportunity, it’s time to register your interest. This will take place on the buyer’s portal and you will be required to enter a few details. Once completed, you will be able to access the tender documents.
At this stage you might be confronted with 10+ documents containing 50+ pages. Whilst this might seem daunting, it is important that you fully understand the requirements.
Step 4 – Breaking down the documents and THOROUGHLY digesting the specification
Before making a decision about whether or not to proceed with your bid, you need to digest the specification. This will not only help you understand if you are eligible to bid, but also if you want to win the work. You could read a paragraph on page 60 which details a requirement that you can’t or don’t want to deliver.
Whilst analysing the specification, you should also establish how competitively priced you can be. Most public sector tenders will split their evaluations into quality and price. Even if the weighting on price is less than the quality, it is vital that you price your services competitively.
Sometimes buyers will not disclose their contract’s value. This is to encourage competition from suppliers. If this is the case, it is important to analyse the work required and assess how competitive you can be.
Step 5 – Collating the documents
The specification will also detail the required documents. The buyer could ask to see;
- Case studies;
- Company accounts;
- Staff CVs;
- Policies and procedures;
- Required accreditations or proof of registrations.
Prior to identifying an opportunity, it is recommended to create these documents in advance. This will save time in the future and allow you to be more reactive.
Step 6 – Writing your responses
Once you have established that the tender is right for your business and you have collated your documents, it’s time to write. Regardless of your industry, there a few consistent aspects to consider when writing your tender responses.
Demonstrate your confidence in your ability within your tender responses. Swap any hesitant phrasing such as ‘we can’ for the more assertive ‘we will’. This will help the buyer to determine that you are the most competent supplier.
Keep it concise
Remember, the buyer will be reading numerous responses. Don’t make them hunt for the information they need. Keep your answers concise. If a question asks how you will meet their requirements, read the specification and respond to each point directly.
Fill the space and use the word count
Often, the buyer will stipulate a word count for each response. If a question allows 1,000 words to respond, the buyer is looking for a detailed response. Ensure that you maximise the word allowance and provide all the information you have at your disposal. However, refer back to the above point and keep your sentences concise. Don’t simply write for the sake of meeting the word count. Ensure that your content is rich in detail that the buyer wants to see.
Step 7 – Proof, proof and then proof again
Your tender responses are complete, but you’re not finished yet. We’re all human and it’s likely that there will be a few errors in your content. Hudson’s team of Bid Writers always recommend asking an impartial party to proofread your work before you submit the final bid.
Submitting a tender full of grammatical errors, spelling mistakes and inconsistent content will result in lost marks. It demonstrates a lack of attention to detail - a quality that raises red flags for buyers.
Step 8 – Submit the bid
This is the final stage and the step that many businesses with dread. With almost two decades of experience in submitting tenders, Hudson knows that portals aren’t always easy to navigate. They strongly recommend familiarising yourself with the buyer’s system in advance of the submission. The team also advise allowing yourself plenty of time. This will eliminate the stress of frantically trying to submit your response with only minutes to spare.
Step 9 – Awarding and feedback
The specification should give you an indication of timescales and when the contract will be awarded. Sometimes, unforeseen circumstances will delay the awarding, but you should be notified if this is the case.
When you receive your response from the buyer, hopefully it is a successful result. However, there are many factors that could contribute to your bid being unsuccessful. It’s important to not be disheartened and ask for feedback. The feedback will help you learn from the exercise and implement your new knowledge into your next bid.
How to tender for work in the cleaning industry
The cleaning sector is vast, covering areas such as;
- Local government
There are many large cleaning businesses that dominate the more sizeable contracts, with values of £1million+.
However, there are many opportunities available for SMEs, with contract values of £2,000 - £150,000. Tendering for these opportunities can be a great way of diversifying your client portfolio and gaining further experience.
In this industry, there is usually an SQ stage followed by an ITT, for successful suppliers. In Hudson’s experience, cleaning tenders are usually evaluated with a heavier emphasis on price. For example, the buyer could set an evaluation weighting of 60% price and 40% quality. For this reason, it is vital that you remain competitively priced.
This takes us back to step four. Before you bid for any contracts, you must analyse your business and determine the contract values that you will be eligible for. This will ensure that you can remain competitive whilst still profiting.
How to tender for work in the creative industry
The “creative industry” can cover many services such as;
- Digital works (including website development and CRM solutions)
- Marketing & PR
- Printing services
- Events Management
From government authorities to education to private and commercial businesses, there are vast opportunities for this industry.
Hudson has been supporting businesses in the creative and digital sector for almost 20-years. In their experience, these tenders usually take the form of a free-flowing proposal.
Instead of the rigid, question and answer, approach in other sectors, free-flowing proposals allow suppliers to demonstrate their creative prowess. It is likely that after this stage, you will be invited to present before the successful supplier is awarded.
How to tender for construction contracts
If your business operates in the construction sector, you will be aware of the importance of tendering.
In this industry, tendering usually consists of a two-stage process, known as the PQQ (or PAS91) and the ITT. The first stage is simply an elimination process. The buyer wants to be sure that every supplier who submits a final bid is eligible to deliver the contract. If successful at this stage, you will receive an invitation to tender.
Hudson has worked with numerous construction businesses, helping them to submit successful bids. During this time, they have noticed that construction tenders usually require the following;
- Your bid quality responses;
- Pricing documents;
- Form(s) of tender;
- Bid declaration(s);
- And supporting information or appendices.
How to tender for work in the healthcare sector
Healthcare is one of the sectors that Hudson most frequently works with. Due to an ageing population, tendering opportunities are on the rise and don’t show any signs of slowing down. In 2018 alone, public sector authorities awarded £8billion to healthcare suppliers, with at least £7billion going to SMEs.
If you are a new healthcare business, it is possible to win contracts in the public sector. However, if you have been trading for less than three years, Hudson recommends starting with framework agreements.
Contracting authorities in this sector are looking for two main elements;
You must be able to demonstrate your experience in delivering relevant contracts and services. This is usually required in the form of case studies.
Some buyers, in England, will specify that you must be CQC registered in order to bid. Some may go further and require a specific rating in order to be eligible to deliver the contract.
Hudson advises taking your time and reading the specification thoroughly. Make sure that you are eligible to avoid wasting time compiling and submitting a tender that you can’t win.
This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Hudson Procurement Group .