10 May 2018

Bidding for pest control contract tenders

Business practice | PPC91 May 2018

Following his recent visits to Regional Forums, Robert Harris, of Harris Associates, has sat down to put some of his ideas about pest control tendering on paper for PPC readers. Harris Associates is a BPCA Associate Member and shares BPCA’s vision of Servicing members winning bigger contracts by putting themselves out there and bidding for pest control contracts.

Bidding for pest control tenders

Before we get into the detail, I’m keen to encourage anyone interested in tendering to give it a try. Submitting a pest control tender can seem daunting. However, you’ve got to be in it to win it. It’s a way of growing your business and securing medium-to-long-term work, as well as growing your skills by experience!

Preparing for tendering

Firstly, make sure your company looks in good shape.

Being a BPCA member will be a key to many specifications and put you towards the top of the pile if it’s not. BPCA membership also allows you to apply for free CHAS accreditation. This health and safety accreditation will stand you in good stead (and is a piece of cake for BPCA members to get their hands on).

CEPA Certification also helps put you towards the top of the pile as it proves you meet and exceed the British and European pest control standards, further distinguishing you from your competitors.

Look at the needs of clients and adopt the sort of things they’d like to see. Standards such as ISO 9001 (quality assurance) and ISO 14001 (environmental standards) might also be helpful, depending on the client.

Finding pest control tenders

Many tender sites charge you £1,000+. Want to save a grand? Two words: ‘contracts finder’ – gov.uk/contracts-finder is a government site that will give you public sector pest control tenders with the government and its agencies. You can even set it up so it’ll tell you when local tenders are published.

Public bodies have to advertise tenders over £10,000 on Contracts Finder so the general public can see them.

There’s also TED (Tenders Electronic Daily). This is the online version of the Supplement to the Official Journal of the EU and is dedicated to European public procurement. TED is free to access for all pest management businesses from the European Union, the European Economic Area and beyond. Around 1,700 notices are published every working day!

Once a public tender has been published you can create an account on the portal they use. This allows you access to the documents and you can send them messages to seek clarity on confusing items.

“What about private tenders?”, I hear you ask. You can find them through tender sites. However, private companies don’t have to publish them.
The best trick is to knock on doors or call companies and ask them when their pest control work is due for tender. They don’t have to tell you, or even include you, but a bit of confidence will reward you in some instances.

Tender documents

Tender portals will allow you to download the documents, complete them and then upload them. Some portals have an online questionnaire to be completed but full instructions are usually given.

If you’ve tracked down a potential tender by word of mouth, make sure you ask for all the tender documents as soon as they’re available. If a company is willing to tell you about their tendering process they’re almost certainly going to be happy for you to see their tender documents (and bid for it).

However you get the documents, my number one tip is to take the time to read the documents – twice! You can spot problems and potential issues as well as getting a feel for the client, which may give you second thoughts about tendering – especially if the terms of the contract are bad.

One and two-stage tenders

One-stage tenders are usually low-value tenders or contracts where the body expects a low response. A public body will produce a complete tender that lists all their requirements including quality questions, pricing, forms, case studies and more.

Where demand is likely to be high, a public body will split a tender into two parts. Stage one is a pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) and asks lots of relevant questions about the business, its structure and experience. This is marked and only the top scores go through to the second stage.

Stage two is the invitation to tender (ITT) stage. This is only sent to the top scorers from the PQQ stage. This means that the best contracts are competing and need to respond with answers to the client quality questions, typically outlining how they are going to manage the contract, introduce innovation, ensure value-for-money is achieved or how they empower the local community. Other details such as pricing will also be included.

Meet the client events

Sometimes clients hold an early session for you to see the stock and meet them.

They can deliver a presentation about the contract and invite you to visit the portfolio to see their sites. Always grasp this opportunity. It shows you’re interested and leaves them with an excellent first impression.

Submitting your tender

Most tenders these days are submitted on the same portal you found it on. Complete it early and press submit. Late submission can suffer from portal speed and stability problems. You don’t want to be panicking when the portal speed drops to a crawl with just minutes until closing time!

Awarding process

Once a contract is awarded a stand-still period is invoked. This allows any parties to challenge the award in private before the official announcement is made.

Top tips: getting to grips with pest control tenders

Dont panic

DON'T BE OVER AWED

Sometimes the act of tendering can seem daunting. There can be many documents and a lot of leg work to do. Do it a chunk at a time and step-by-step until it’s done. Double check your work after a few days.

Be clear

BE CLEAR

Procurement experts are skilled in buying, not pest control. People are easily baffled with unnecessary or technical jargon. Use simple words where you can and make your bid easy to understand.

Let someone outside the pest management industry read it. If they understand it then there’s a good chance the procurement manager who reads your bid will too.

They will prefer clear, succinct bids that are easy to read. After all, to ‘elucidate superfluous verbosity around one’s shibboleth’ is best described as ‘keeping it simple’!

Get feedback

ALWAYS GET FEEDBACK

Many people hate rejection so they ignore the opportunity to get feedback, but this is the most important stage! You can find out what you did wrong or where your bid was lacking, so you know what you need to do in future to win.

Lean from mistakes

LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES

Keep making the same mistakes and you’ll always get the same results! Learn from them and then improve the next bid.

Price what they ask for

PRICE FOR WHAT THEY ASK FOR!

There are times when you’ll think a client has gone stark raving mad, especially when the specification for the service they are proposing is ten years out of date! 

Price up what they are suggesting even if it’s not relevant technically in today’s world. Similarly, never alter terms within the contract, eg if the contract says from 7:30am until 6pm don’t say you’ll provide a 9am until 6pm service.

If what you’re proposing differs from the other bids they don’t have a way of comparing them so you’ll be eliminated.

Never leave a question blank

NEVER LEAVE ANY QUESTIONS BLANK

If the client is looking for a response to a question then answer it. Failure to respond may mean automatic exclusion.

Trying to interpret a tender can be tough. Some clients set questions almost like an exam, and it’s not always clear what they want to hear from contractors. If you need help, a word of advice or support, I’m available. Good luck and let me know how you get on! To find out more and get support with tendering, contact Robert at Harris Associates...
admin@harrisassociates.biz
07938 623 444
harrisassociates.biz

 

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Harris Associates headRobert Harris 
Harris Associates

1 May 2018  |  PPC91

Source: PPC91

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