The 5 Steps of Bidding for a Contract

14th April 2021

Bidding for a contract: How to succeed in 5 steps

Last updated: Dec 17, 2021 @ 9:52 am

Bidding for a tendering contract can be overwhelming at the best of times, particularly if you’ve never done it before. However, tendering for work is a great way to grow your business.

COVID-19 has changed the way in which company’s do business. Gone are the days of face-to-face meetings and traditional networking events. As we come out of the other side, tendering is a great way to secure a pipeline of work. We have devised five steps that can help you understand what happens when bidding for a contract.

Step 1: Find the right bid for your business

Once you’ve decided to tender for work, you’ll be wondering how you can find the right contract for your business. There’s no shortage of websites that post multi-sector opportunities and leads daily. Ideally, you should be looking for a sector-specific portal that posts unique, public and private sector opportunities.

One centralised and easy-to-navigate portal can help save you time. Simply relying on CPV codes can result in missed opportunities as they are often mislabelled. Finding a portal that uploads and categorises tenders by keywords, location, budget and more can streamline the process. Our sister company, Hudson Discover, hosts 11 sector-specific tendering portals.

These sectors consist of;

Once signed up, you’ll have access to an on-hand Account Manager. They’ll be able to answer any questions you have about contract bidding. You’ll also get an email alert when new and relevant tenders are uploaded.

Book a free live demo of your preferred portal. 

Step 2: Planning and research

Planning and research are a couple of the most important aspects when bidding for a contract. You want to make a note of all the important dates and what documents you’ll need. These could include:

When bidding for a contract, you should double-check that you meet the minimum eligibility criteria. You don’t want to waste resources starting a bid only to realise you don’t qualify on financial standing, for example.

Check that your business:

When bidding for a contract, you should aim to complete it with plenty of time before final submission. This can help ease the pressure and stress. Tenders can be long and complex at the best of times, so you want to allow for plenty of time. Unexpected delays may pop up and by planning ahead you can help safeguard your response in case this happens. Setting internal deadlines for you and your team can help with this.

Step 3: Price your services right

Pricing your services right is a crucial aspect of contract bidding. You don’t want to price your services too low as it may result in the contractor questioning your legitimacy. The evaluation criteria of every contract is different and depend on the buyer’s needs.  The weightings will differ, but generally speaking, you can expect a split between two or three aspects:

  • Price
  • Quality
  • Social value (for public sector contracts).

The private and public sector differ in how they award contracts. The private sector isn’t bound and constrained by the same rules and regulations the public sector is. If a private organisation wants to award a contract on price alone, they can.

However, the public sector has certain rules and regulations they must meet to award a bid to a supplier. Public sector organisations will award bids to the most economically advantageous tender, known as the MEAT. The MEAT seeks to achieve the most value for money from a contract. A buyer will take into account a range of factors that will be specified in the tender documents. They’ll evaluate them both individually and in combination. They might include the following:

  • Accessibility
  • Technical ability
  • Ability to deliver on time
  • Innovation
  • Environmental considerations
  • Sustainability
  • Customer service
  • Quality.

Step 4: Write a high-quality bid response

Writing a high-quality bid response is crucial. As mentioned above, even if the weighting on quality is less than cost, buyers care about the quality. You want to be persuasive when bidding for a contract. You want to convince the buyer that you are the best business for the job. When writing bids it’s worth considering:

  • Format

Clearly format your response with subheadings and bullet points. Often you will be able to break down the question and use these as subheadings. This can help ensure that you are covering and answering every aspect of the question asked. Bullet points can also help keep your response ordered. This will help you get in the buyer’s good books. Put yourself in their shoes. If you’re having to evaluate tens to hundreds of bid responses, you’ll favour those that are clearly laid out. This helps you outshine your competitors as opposed to submitting a chunk of text.

  • Assumptions

Furthermore, don’t allow the buyer to make assumptions from what you’ve written. Leaving room for assumptions can allow for the wrong assumptions to be made. Clearly explain everything and avoid overly technical jargon. Don’t assume they know anything about you, your business or your bid.

  • Word count

When bidding for a contract, you should aim for your response to be as close to the word or page counts as possible. They’re there for a reason. If a buyer expects a 1000-word response, simply writing one paragraph won’t do. Keep answers relevant, clear and concise.

Sector-specific contract bidding tips

Before going ahead with any tender, you must analyse your business and determine the contract values you’re eligible for. This helps ensure you can remain competitive while still making a profit.

Often the contract value will be stated in the tender specification. If it’s not, there’s a simple way you can figure it out. As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t be bidding for contracts that are more than half your annual turnover. For example, if your turnover is £100,000, you shouldn’t tender for contracts that are more than £50,000.

Contract bidding in the creative sector

The creative industry can cover many different services such as:

  • Marketing and PR
  • Design
  • Digital works
  • Event management
  • Videography.

Tender proposals in the sector are usually a lot more free-flowing, allowing suppliers to demonstrate their creativity. If successful, a buyer will likely require a supplier to do a presentation before the contract is awarded.

Contract bidding in the facilities management industry

Contract bidding in the facilities management industry is booming, with the cleaning sector, in particular, being flooded with opportunities. SMEs can tender for contracts that have values ranging from anything from £2,000 to upwards of £100,000.

The cleaning sector covers areas such as:

  • Commercial
  • Corporate
  • Education
  • Private and/or domestic
  • Local government
  • Industrial.

The contract bidding process is typically a two-stage process:

  1. A contractor will release a selection questionnaire (SQ) or pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ).
  2. Once completed, successful suppliers will be sent an invitation to tender (ITT).

This is when an interested supplier will submit their tender response. Each has the aim of convincing the buyer that they are the best company for the job.

In our experience, cleaning contracts are typically evaluated with a larger weight being placed on price. For example, 60% price and 40% quality. However, in the public sector, it’s worth bearing in mind the 10% minimum weighting on social value. Therefore, although it’s important to remain competitively priced, it isn’t the only thing to think about when contract bidding.

Contract bidding in the construction sector

The construction industry is one of the biggest industries that tender for work. Billions of pounds are being invested in the construction industry by both the UK government and the private sector.

Within construction, although you do find open tendering procedures begin used, you will more likely come across a two-stage process. Similar to the facilities industry, as mentioned above, suppliers will likely have to complete a PQQ for larger contracts. A fairly recent type of PQQ, used within the construction industry, is the PAS91.


The PAS91 was developed by the British Standards Institute to save construction companies from filling out multiple PQQs. Although a PAS91 is slightly longer than a PQQ or SQ, it has the same ‘what have you done’ mentality. The main benefits are that once completed, you are:

  • Exempt from completing some core sections if you possess certain accreditations
  • Able to develop a standardised response to the standardised questions
  • Save you time the in long run.

If you’re a member of Constructionline you will automatically be exempt from completing the most time-consuming parts of the PAS91. The PAS91 demonstrates to the contracting authority that you meet the necessary requirements. Construction PQQs and PAS91s usually require the following:

  • Supplier and identity contract information
  • Financial standing
  • Business and professional standing
  • Health and safety
  • Equal opportunity and diversity policy
  • Environmental management policy
  • Quality management

After completing the PAS91, and the minimum eligibility criteria is met, the supplier will receive an ITT.

Contract bidding in the healthcare industry

Understandably, the healthcare industry has boomed over the last two years. The global pandemic and an ageing population have led to billions being invested in healthcare services.

There are two things to consider when undertaking contract bidding within the healthcare sector:

  • Experience

Providing evidence of contract experience is one of the most important aspects when tendering in the healthcare sector. This is because buyers want to be reassured that they have the experience to carry out the contract. They want to see evidence you have the resources to provide the good, service or works you are applying for.

You may be required to demonstrate up to three previous case studies within the last five years. These must be similar in scope, scale and complexity to the contracts you’re bidding for. Remember to keep the case studies relevant.

The more experience you have, the bigger contracts you can go for. The bigger contracts you go for as a business, the more income you’ll get, the bigger your business will grow.

  • Qualifications

Having the relevant qualifications is vital for contract bidding in the healthcare sector. Having relevant qualifications and accreditations can strengthen your tender response. Internationally recognised certifications will convey that you are experienced and safety competent. Relevant qualification could include:

  • CQC registered
  • ISO 9001; 13485; 14001; 23001; 27001
  • NVQs (level 3 and above)
  • CyberEssentials

3 trends within procurement

  1. Innovation

Innovation is seemingly a new trend throughout multiple industries in procurement. Buyers are wanting to see the latest innovative solutions when procuring goods, works or services. This may be innovative environmental solutions or innovative and collaborative working. Research, technology, healthcare, construction and creative are just some of the sectors that look for innovation in tendering responses.

  1. Sustainability and environmental considerations

Sustainability and environmental considerations are taken a lot more seriously within procurement. Contractors like to see how your organisation is tackling carbon emissions, reducing waste and encouraging recycling to name a few.

This is evident within the public sector with their mandatory social value weighting. However, the private sector is also looking at the way they do business. Moreover, how they can be more environmentally friendly and sustainable. Reflecting on how they can sustainably cut emissions without comprising on quality or service is becoming a priority for many.

  1. Local supply chains

Buyers, particularly in the public sector are seeking to establish and maintain a local supply chain. They are hoping to establish this supply chain closer to home. The pandemic has led to businesses reflecting on how they do business. Moreover, what happens when the global supply chain is disrupted. Brexit has also been a contributing factor. More and more, businesses are looking to work with local SMEs in order to secure their supply chain.

Establishing a local supply chain will enable companies to build resilience for the future. It also helps them manage risk. A lot more businesses will be forward planning. Many will now have procedures in place in order to safeguard their business from future disruptions to business.

Need help bidding for a contract?

Not everyone has the time, resources and experience to sit through the tendering process and write a winning response.. Outsourcing to bid writing experts can help you get on the path to success, helping you win your next tender.

We proudly have over 60 years of bid writing experience and an 87% success rate. They offer four bid writing support services that can help you when bidding for a contract. Whether you’re completely new to contract bidding or just need your response proofread – we can help.

Tender Writing

Once you’ve found the perfect contract for your business, why not send it our way? Our Bid Writers can take care of it all for you. They’ll let you know what they need from you, providing you with a full Tender Writing breakdown. They’ll even submit it on your behalf.

Tender Mentor

If you’ve written your own tender response and need someone to double-check it for errors, Tender Mentor can help. The Bid Team will proofread your work for any inconsistencies, grammar or spelling mistakes. They’ll also ensure that it’s in line with the specification before you submit.

Tender Ready

Our Tender Ready 4-week programme is perfect for businesses that have never tendered before. A Bid Writer will work with you to make sure you have everything in place to tender successfully. Tender Ready offers your business:

  • A 12-month subscription to one Hudson Discover portal.
  • Access to Global Bid Directors and Senior Bidding Professionals.
  • An Organisation-wide Bid library, including 3 case studies, 5 CVs and 8 policies.
  • Additional flexible benefit options.

Tender Improvement

If you’ve been tendering but aren’t seeing the results you want, our Tender Improvement package can help. Our Bid Team will assess your previous responses and tender documents, working with you to improve for future submissions.

Step 5: Submit your bid

Before you submit your tender response, you should proofread it. Leaving a day or two from completion before you submit can help with this. Additionally, having someone else read over it can help spot any spelling or grammar mistakes or inconsistencies.

Once this has all been completed, you should submit your response and wait to hear back from the buyer. This can take a while, try not to fret if you haven’t heard. Some tenders can get hundreds of responses, so reviewing these can take time. Either way, the buyer will always notify you once they have reviewed all bids. They can either do this via the tender portal or email depending on the method of submission.

You may not be successful with every tender you submit and that’s ok. Ask for feedback from the buyer if unsuccessful. This can help you see which aspects you can improve on for future bids.

Discover Elite

Upgrading to Discover Elite can help optimise your tendering efforts – even when you’re busy. Our two new time-saving tools can improve your competitor awareness and success rate when bidding for a contract.

The Ultimate Time Saver package offers your business:

  • A maximum of five tender breakdowns per month.
  • An annual subscription to a maximum of two Hudson Discover sector-specific portals. This option can help businesses that overlap two industries such as Healthcare and Technology, for example.
  • Pre-market and award engagement notices monitored on your behalf.
  • Buyer portal management, including registration, password management, downloading documents and assessing viability based on your bid or no-bid
  • Weekly phone calls with your dedicated Account Manager to discuss viable tendering opportunities.

The Become a Pre-Bid Master package also includes:

  • All of the above.
  • Up to seven tender breakdowns per month.
  • Bid Strategy delivered by a Senior Bid Manager with a minimum of 5 years of experience. It will also be managed by our Global Bid Director.

Contact us to find out how we can help your business grow.

Find more helpful tips and advice in our blogs. We cover topics including:

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