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Winning successful bids for high-profile jobs in the public sector can mean big money and advertising for companies. But how do you produce a successful tender? Carys Evans finds out

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Bidding for jobs at large sporting events are good opportunities for sign companies to showcase their skills and services

Grow your presence

A tender document is a written invitation sent to potential suppliers of a good or service to inform them about the information required for the buyer to choose among them. Issuing a tender document begins the tender process where a business selects qualified and interested suppliers based on things such as their price, availability and proposed delivery terms.

Submitting a tender is common for businesses supplying goods or services to other businesses or the public sector.  However, whether you are looking to access bigger business opportunities, or are wanting to move into the public sector, writing a tender for the first time can seem like a daunting task.

Global sporting events such as the Cricket World Cup, the Olympics and FIFA World Cup are an opportunity for sign companies to bid for high-profile jobs that will get their work and skills noticed.

An example of a high-profile job in which sign companies are invited to submit tenders for is the Rugby World Cup. At the end of 2018, the Rugby World Cup Limited Board (RWCL) released a statement on its website inviting sign-makers to bid for contracts to provide signage for the world cup tournament in September 2019. The statement reads: “Rugby World Cup Limited wishes to invite qualified suppliers to tender for right to provide signage and imaging services (in-venue) for Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.

“The in-venue signage is an important part of the event presentation of Rugby World Cup, and RWCL is seeking a qualified supplier to ensure the production and installation of a world-class signage solution for all 12 venues in Japan.

“Suppliers interested in receiving the Request for Proposals (RFP) document should have a proven track record in supplying and managing such signage and imaging services at world-class sporting events and will be expected to provide evidence of sufficient resources and experience to provide all the necessary services, including design, production, installation and operation as well as appropriate infrastructure and adequately trained personnel.”

With events such as these followed globally, it is no wonder that they provide sign-makers with an excellent opportunity to give their work some profile. So how do sign-makers prepare successful tenders for profitable work?

Where to start

Winning Tenders is an Exeter-based tender writing specialist which has been helping businesses win tenders for 11 years. For guidance and support in the field of writing tenders, the firm provides an extensive selection of help videos and articles on its website which cover topics from tender research, to proposal writing, to finding contracts.

The firm states on its website: “Tendering for business in the public sector is not easy. Indeed, it can seem quite daunting. But if you want to grow your company by winning large contracts with large organisations, you have to do it.

“Contacts like this are good bread and butter, it’s regular income over typically a three-year period that will take your business into a different league. The buyer normally needs to see two years’ accounts, so if your company is a start-up you can begin now to get your fledgling business ready to tender by learning what’s involved and quoting initially for some low-income contacts that are below the tender threshold.”

According to Winning Tenders, the winning bid is not chosen based on who can provide the lowest price. The firm explains that the lowest price can actually be considered high risk. Instead, buyers look for a firm that can provide good quality economically-sound work which is also good value for money.

The winning bid is not chosen on who can provide the lowest price

When submitting a tender, a business must show how it will comply with the policies, requirements and conditions and needs to ensure that what it is offering meets the minimum requirements, especially the required standard of quality.

Knowing whether to bid

“When you’re considering an invitation to tender for a contract that you might like to bid for, you have to be pretty sure that you can win it, deliver it and above all that it will be profitable. Obviously, you won’t grow your business through tendering if you don’t play the game, but neither does it make sense to bid for everything that comes along. So be selective,” says Winning Tenders.

Obviously, you won’t grow your business through tendering if you don’t play the game, but neither does it make sense to bid for everything that comes along

Be sure to size up potential jobs before deciding whether to submit a tender. Having a detailed understanding of the competitive environment in which a business is choosing to tender is a good indication that it is a good fit, because it will have the knowledge needed to know what skills to particularly emphasise to place itself ahead of other bidders.

Be patient and wait for the tender opportunity that is right for your business rather than rushing into every one you see

Invest Northern Ireland offers similar advice in its ‘Successful Tendering’ guide. The organisation says: “Be patient and wait for the tender opportunity that is right for your business – it is a waste of time tendering for contracts that you are not going to win. The most common reason for lack of success is poor choice of tender opportunity.”

As with anything, there will be challenges. Kreo, a software-as-a-service platform for construction cost estimating, scheduling and bid pricing, revealed that when writing bid to tender, the main challenges faced by construction companies were comparing and assessing bids (22%), selecting subcontractors (21%), carrying out risk assessment (20%), preparing tender documentation (18%), and managing information flow (17%).

Other challenges included struggling due to insufficient time, incomplete information, undesirable budget terms, undesirable timing terms, and a lack of resources. So, what are the golden rules when writing successful tenders?

The keys to success

When submitting a tender, make sure that you have provided every piece of information requested and in the correct format. This makes less work for the client and proves you have read and understood what it is they are asking for. Make sure that when you are completing the tender document, you show the buyer that you are capable of completing the work by including examples.

Make sure you have provided every piece of information requested and in the correct format

Ensure you thoroughly check prices and data before submitting your tender pricing schedules – any errors will surface eventually and will only reflect badly on you as a company in the long-run.

When submitting a tender, you will be up against a number of other sign firms all arguing why they are the best for the job in hand. In order to stand yourself apart from the rest, finding and promoting a unique selling point is key.

The company which puts out a tender will have plenty of options to choose from. These companies know exactly what they are looking for and can afford to apply the bid criteria very strictly, this means you must comply with every aspect of the bid. Don’t forget to sell yourself and what makes your business special and get this across in your answers.

Raising your profile

In 2016, LED specialist Absen was chosen as the official partner of the Chinese Football Association Super League (CSL). Due to its strong background and proven experience, Absen won the bid for the CSL’s 2017-2020 Chinese Football Association Super League Official LED Colour Display Supplier Sourcing Project.

Despite having a background in football for over ten years, it was this partnership that boosted Absen into the limelight of the LED market. Absen’s flagship product – A97, meets FIFA and UEFA’s strict requirements, and played a key role in making the firm a supplier to the world’s top football leagues.

The firm says: “Absen has accumulated rich practical experience in the football arena through a decade’s devotion and development, and provides professional solutions along with premium services. Absen now has a foothold in the domestic football market, and is contributing to its development, in an era when China is committed to revitalising and developing Chinese football.”

O Factoid: According to Kreo, the top three challenges faced by the construction industry when preparing a bid was comparing and assessing bids, selecting contractors and completing risk assessment. O

CSM Live is another example of a sign firm which has completed a number of high-profile jobs in the public sector including work for the 2015 Rugby World Cup and the 2012 London Olympics.

The sign firm has a strong global presence as well as adopting an environmentally-conscious approach to its work.

In order to be on the ball and at the front of the game in identifying tender opportunities, the firm keeps an eye on relevant online and printed media, in the knowledge that this level of project is widely publicised several years in advance. CSM Live is also subscribed to relevant public sector portal tenders.

Andrew Hodson, business development director at CSM Live explains: “Through our existing contacts and via extensive networking activity we will always attempt to gain familiarity with the decision-makers prior to any tender process.

Andrew Hodson, business development director at CSM Live

“Once the process is underway, we put a team in place to ensure that our response is accurate and pricing competitive, as well as making every effort to demonstrate our abilities and experience through professionally-designed submissions with good case studies and solid background information.

“Selection is usually down to the proven experience, competence and compliance of the supplier, combined with value and price competitiveness of course. Innovation is often a strong point.”

When it comes to the tender process itself – which Hodson says usually takes around three months but can vary depending on the individual project – the firm has a dedicated marketing team and its own creative resources and department devoted to procurement and pricing.

“We also have an in-house health & safety manager to advise on relevant issues and sustainability, as well as our own legal department to go through any contractual elements. Some international tenders may require translation into a different language, and we would seek external advice for that kind of requirement,” Hodson says.

Winning bids for high profile jobs has significantly benefitted the company. For CSM Live, having contracts such as London 2012 and the FIFA World Cup boosts market awareness and ensures that the firm is usually included within the tender process – as well as attaining additional work.

For businesses unsure where to begin with submitting a tender, Hodson advises: “Do your research, know the opportunities, ensure you are registered with the appropriate tender portals and make sure that your core information is current and fit for purpose.

“The public sector will only consider companies who fulfil all the critical CSR categories for starters. If you don’t have the experience or credentials, then consider partnering with companies that do.”

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