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10 Tips for writing Tender Submissions

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10 Tips for writing Tender Submissions

FM Contract Solutions offers specialist consultancy services in the development, engineering, evaluation and performance management of soft service contracts in the facility management and healthcare sectors. One of our areas of expertise is the preparation and evaluation of cleaning tenders.

Writing stand out tender submissions is a key requirement for success as a service business.

Statistics suggest that approximately 60% of submissions for service tenders are incomplete or marked as non-compliant because the respondents had not fully complied with the customer’s requirements. This is an astounding statistic when you consider how much time and money is involved in costing and preparing tenders. Many contractors for cleaning tenders are left wondering why they consistently don’t make the short list or win tenders for which they have the capacity and capability to win, yet will make same mistakes time and time again.

Here are 10 basic tips to make your tender stand out from the rest.

1. Read the documents thoroughly and highlight areas of importance and areas where you need to do some research or extra work. Most importantly ensure that you understand the customer’s needs, the criteria and the timelines that the customer is looking for.

2. Answer all the questions. It is surprising how many otherwise good submissions are disqualified or marked down simply because they didn’t answer the questions or provide enough information. The questions are there because purchaser wants to understand aspects about your company, your service or your product that are important to them and they also need to ensure that you comply with their procurement rules. Above all avoid answering questions with waffle or smart comments or criticisms of the question or the rationale behind the question and never patronise or question the customer’s integrity or intelligence.

3. Be careful with cut and pastes. Tenders often ask for detailed information. To save time, a natural tendency is to cut paste from previous documents and, while there is no problem with that, sloppy cutting and pasting from previous tenders or other documents will damage your submission and your credibility with examiners. Sloppy cuts and pastes often include names of other organisations or past contract submissions. Frequently they introduce errors in spelling and grammar and make the document difficult to read.

4. It’s all about the customer. When a customer calls a tender they have already identified the need for a particular product and service. What you need to do is convince them that you are the right provider and have the solution they need. It is important that you make your submission relevant to the customer and the customer’s needs and expectations. Most of all, your submission must negate all risks involved if they are to select your proposal.

5. Ask questions through the specified channels. Don’t be afraid to ask questions but make sure that you go through the correct channels. Going direct to the customer or to stakeholders outside the official tender channels will disqualify your company and your submission. Ask questions that are clear and succinct and don’t be afraid to ask for qualification if the answer is not clear. All questions and answers to those questions are generally made available to all tenderers in order to provide a level playing field but the person or the company asking the questions is not identified.

6. Don’t be afraid to point out errors in the tender or to question specifications that may not comply with legislation or standards. Procurement is about avoiding and minimising risk for the customer. Sometimes customers make mistakes or miss vital considerations in the specifications. Companies that draw attention to errors that may expose the customer to risk show their expertise and enhance their credibility. In a recent case a submission from a supplier pointing out that a laundry equipment tender specification was illegal and offering a solution resulted in all offers being declared null and void and the tender was awarded to that supplier.

7. Offer real and relevant Innovation and outline how it will benefit the customer and provide value for money. This is where you can change the rules. Tenders are not about price but your customer needs to understand the value for money that you offer with your proposition and how that will benefit them if your company is awarded the tender. Many companies, and most frequently big companies, see this as an opportunity to tell the customer how good they are and the wonderful things they have done elsewhere but fail to offer innovation that is relevant to the customer or establish a real point of difference from their competitors.

8. Make your submission easy to read and understand. Answer all questions in the required format and in the correct order and make it easy for examiners to read. Avoid handwritten submissions and ensure that your spelling and grammar is correct and that your writing style is fluid and easy to understand. Tenders generally have requirements for the order and placement of attachments, brochures and extra information. Tender submissions that are difficult to read and where attachments are out of order, in the wrong place or completely omitted are often marked as non-compliant or put aside by examiners.

9. Don’t leave it till the last minute. Rushed submissions are inevitably sloppy and it is obvious to the tender examiner that significant effort or research into the customer’s needs and requirements has not been properly conducted. Above all, ensure that your tender is submitted or uploaded with a submission receipt before the published deadline. Tenders received after deadlines are inevitably declared non-compliant, regardless of the quality of the content and the preparation.

10. Do not offer inducements or approach stakeholders with offers or enticements at any stage in the tender process. Corruption is a serious issue and you will find yourself disqualified from current and future tenders and even facing criminal charges.