Business Development

Writing a Tender: 7 Things to Know Before You Start

By Hudson Procurement Group
August 2020

Writing a tender – is it as difficult as it seems?

Writing a tender can seem intimidating, even if it’s not your first time. The specifications can be hundreds of pages long. And yes, you must read it all. The supporting documents and evidence can seem extensive and the word counts can total 10,000+. If your organisation doesn’t have a dedicated business development department, you might struggle to make time for tendering.

If you are going to write and submit your own tenders, here are seven things you should consider first.

You might not be able to deliver the work you’re bidding for

This might sound strange, but we have personally seen suppliers tender for work that they simply can’t deliver. They’re not necessarily doing this on purpose. Sometimes it’s just a case of misreading (or not reading) the specification.

When you find the perfect contract opportunity, it’s easy to get carried away in imagining a successful outcome. First, take the time to fully read and digest the full specification and any supporting documents.

For example, on the very last page, the buyer might stipulate that work needs to be carried out in multiple locations across the UK. This might not be viable for your business. Similarly, the buyer might request that your company holds a specific accreditation. It’s this kind of criteria that can be missed.

Make sure that you don’t waste valuable time. Only start writing once every box has been checked and you know the specification inside out.

Your trading length can make a big difference

In our experience, of almost two decades, we have noticed that three years of trading is usually the golden length. Buyers can sometimes ask to see at least three years of accounts. These accounts will often have to be presented in the name that your business currently trades under.

However, this is a general rule of thumb and it does not apply to every tender. For example, in the care industry, spot provider frameworks often offer more recently established businesses the chance to start their tendering journey. Likewise, subcontracting opportunities often don’t require the same trading length or period of accounts.

When tendering, it’s important to not see the process as “one size fits all”. Keep in mind that every tender and buyer is different. Therefore, they have different requirements and thresholds that need to be met.

Your turnover will likely be assessed

The reason why buyers might ask to see three years of accounts is to prove your turnover.

Why do buyers care about turnover? Because this is often the most accurate indicator of your ability to deliver the contract to the required standard.

For example, if your business has only been trading for 6 months, it’s unlikely that you can deliver a large contract. The requirements could be to supply refurbishment works in 30+ schools, across the country. In such an early stage of your business, it’s unlikely that you would have the team and resources to deliver these services. It’s also unlikely that you would have the level of experience required to demonstrate your capability.

For these reasons, buyers will often set a turnover threshold. This should be displayed in the tender documents. It’s unlikely that you would be able to waste too much time on the tender responses however if you didn’t meet the required threshold. Proof of turnover is usually required in the very early PQQ or SQ stages of a procurement process.

You must be competitively priced

The tendering process exists for two reasons;

To offer all businesses a fair chance at securing business contracts
To help buyers efficiently assess all their options and choose a supplier

Therefore, your proposed pricing must remain competitive. Although the process offers you a fair chance, you will be directly compared to your competitors. They will all be aiming for the lowest price, whilst still making a profit.

There’s little point in investing hours in your written responses, to then overcharge and lose to your competition.

The buyer cares about the quality of your writing (regardless of your sector)

Tenders are usually evaluated by splitting the weighting between cost and the quality of your responses. When writing your tenders, you will be aware of how much weighting is given to your quality. In the specification, the buyer will express that, for example, 60% of the evaluation will be quality and 20% on cost. This will change with every tender. We have seen some buyers place 50% on each, some with 100% price and some with 80% price and 20% quality.

If you’re not a natural-born writer and you need a little support, take a look at our Tender Writing service. Within this service, our Bid Writers will;

Keep on top of clarification questions;
Write your tender responses;
Advise on and attach your supporting documents;
And submit the final bid on your behalf.

Call or email us for a free quote.

You must have experience and evidence to back it up

We have talked briefly about evidence throughout this blog. Providing evidence to back-up your experience is crucial when writing a tender. In general, you can expect to be asked to provide at least three relevant case studies when tendering for work.

Your experience demonstrates to buyers that you are the most qualified provider for the contract.

Before writing a tender, you should always compare the experience your organisation has, to the specification. If the buyer has requested a certain number of previous contract examples/case studies, ensure that you have these ready. It is also important to ensure that the contract examples are relevant. Try to match your case studies as closely as you can to the contract you are bidding for.

If you are regularly writing tenders, you might find that you are referring to the same case studies in each bid. In this case, we would advise creating a ‘bid bank’. A bank of content will help to increase the efficiency of your tender writing process. However, we do advise the thorough checking of these documents before attaching them to the final bid. You don’t want to submit a bid with documents that refer to different contracts or buyers.

There is potential for massive growth

Halfway through writing a tender, you might question “is it worth it?”

We understand that when you hit hurdles or feel like you are jumping through never-ending hoops, it’s easy to feel defeated.

The truth is that tendering for contracts can have huge benefits for your business. It can be a way of growing your business at a quicker rate and open doors to opportunities you wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Successful bids have helped our clients see results such as;

Securing £200million over a 5year period
Increasing the organisations turnover by 20% from one bid submission
Securing 4 years of sustainable income
Winning a contract for £350k on their first bid
A guaranteed £6million of income, over four years.

The best news is that tendering isn’t just for the “big” businesses. New opportunities are posted every day and there are thousands of buyers across the UK. If you need help finding new contract opportunities, visit our Hudson Discover platforms. We have 11 sector-specific tender tracking portals, designed to make your tendering journey easier.

Further support

If you are still unsure about writing a tender or need support with a specific bid, please get in touch. Our team of multi-disciplinary Bid Writers hold an 87% bid success rate so you can be sure that your bid is in safe hands. They support over 700 businesses globally and they’re always on hand to help you see success from your tendering efforts.

For more information, or to speak to a consultant, please visit our website.

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