How to tender for work…and be successful

23rd September 2020

How to tender for work – let’s start from the beginning

Last updated: Dec 17, 2021 @ 10:23 am

How to tender for work” is a popular Google search – and for good reason. When first tackling the tendering process, you may realise that the procedure is more complex than you imagined.

After almost two decades in the world of tendering for contracts, we have supported numerous businesses. From submitting their first bid to delivering contracts for multiple authorities, we have helped over 700 companies, globally.

In this blog, we will breakdown the nine steps that you will most likely face when tendering for work. This is commonly the process in the public sector. Private sector organisations aren’t bound by the same regulations. Private buyers can simply ask for quotes and base their decision on this alone. With publicly-funded bodies, the process has to be fairer. Public sector tendering opportunities are usually published in the public domain and the process requires a more transparent approach.

Step 1 – Company analysis 

Before you even research “how to tender for work”, you need to understand the position of your business. This involves undergoing a brief company analysis. This analysis should look into the following;

  • The company’s turnover;
  • Your experience and the experience of your employees;
  • The goals of the business in the near future, and;
  • The work you will need to deliver in order to achieve these goals.

Once you have analysed these aspects of your business, you can assess your eligibility. Your economic financial standing will be determined by your turnover.

As a general rule of thumb, we never advise bidding for a contract with a value of more than half your turnover. For example, if your turnover £100,000 we would only advise tendering for contracts with a maximum value of £50,000.

Your experience is also crucial to consider. We always advise that buyers usually ask for three relevant case studies. If you can’t provide these examples, it’s likely that this will hinder your chances of winning the contract. Your competitors will be providing examples that showcase them in the best light – make sure you do the same.

Step 2 – Opportunity tracking

In the UK, buyers can use thousands of sources to publish new tendering opportunities. In order to ensure you never miss an opportunity, daily tracking is required. This is a full-time job. We know because our team of opportunity trackers at Hudson Discover do this daily.

Hudson Discover is where we house our 11 sector-specific tendering portals. These sectors consist of;

Every day, our opportunity trackers manually search for new listings from thousands of sources, both public and private. Once they have identified new tendering opportunities, they upload them to the relevant portal. The tenders are then categorised using industry-led keywords. This allows our clients to simply log in, enter their keywords and instantly find relevant opportunities. We also send an email alert each time relevant tenders are uploaded.

Book a free live demo of your preferred portal. 

Step 3 – Registering interest

Once you have identified an opportunity, it’s time to register your interest. This will take place on the buyer’s portal and you will be required to enter a few details. Once completed, you will be able to access the tender documents.

At this stage, you might be confronted with 10+ documents containing 50+ pages. Whilst this might seem daunting, it is important that you fully understand the requirements.   

Step 4 – Breaking down the documents and THOROUGHLY digesting the specification

Before making a decision about whether or not to proceed with your bid, you need to digest the specification. This will not only help you understand if you are eligible to bid but also if you want to win the work. You could read a paragraph on page 60 which details a requirement that you can’t or don’t want to deliver.

Whilst analysing the specification, you should also establish how competitively priced you can be. Most public sector tenders will split their evaluations into quality and price. Even if the weighting on price is less than the quality, it is vital that you price your services competitively.

Sometimes buyers will not disclose their contract’s value. This is to encourage competition from suppliers. If this is the case, it is important to analyse the work required and assess how competitive you can be.

Step 5 – Collating the documents 

The specification will also detail the required documents. The buyer could ask to see;

Prior to identifying an opportunity, it is recommended to create these documents in advance. This will save time in the future and allow you to be more reactive.

If you are new to tendering and you don’t have these documents, we recommend our Tender Ready package. The package includes the creation of your policies and procedures. Once the content has been created, our Bid Designers will professionally brand the documents to ensure you stand out. The service also includes 12-months access to the Hudson Discover tendering portal of your choice. When you identify an opportunity, our team can either write your first bid or guide you through the process of writing two.

Step 6 – Writing your responses 

Once you have established that the tender is right for your business and collated your documents, it’s time to write. Regardless of your industry, there are a few consistent aspects to consider when writing your tender responses.

  1. Be assertive

Demonstrate your confidence in your ability within your tender responses. Swap any hesitant phrasing such as ‘we can’ for the more assertive ‘we will’. This will help the buyer to determine that you are the most competent supplier.

  1. Keep it concise

Remember, the buyer will be reading numerous responses. Don’t make them hunt for the information they need. Keep your answers concise. If a question asks how you will meet their requirements, read the specification and respond to each point directly.

  1. Fill the space and utilise the word count allowance

Often, the buyer will stipulate a word count for each response. If a question allows 1,000 words to respond, the buyer is looking for a detailed response. Ensure that you maximise the word allowance and provide all the information you have at your disposal. However, refer back to the above point and keep your sentences concise. Don’t simply write for the sake of meeting the word count. Ensure that your content is rich in detail that the buyer wants to see. 

Step 7 – Proof, proof and then proof again

Your tender responses are complete, but you’re not finished yet. We’re all human and it’s likely that there will be a few errors in your content. We always recommend asking an impartial party to proofread your work before you submit the final bid.

Submitting a tender full of grammatical errors, spelling mistakes and inconsistent content will result in lost marks. It demonstrates a lack of attention to detail – a quality that raises red flags for buyers.

If you need a second pair of eyes, our Tender Mentor service will ensure that you submit an error-free bid. Our bid writers will review your content and check for any errors or responses that don’t answer the specification.

Simply send us your bid for a free quote.

Step 8 – Submit the bid 

The final stage and the step that many businesses with dread. With almost two decades of experience in submitting tenders, we know that portals aren’t always easy to navigate. We strongly recommend familiarising yourself with the buyer’s system in advance of the submission. We also advise allowing yourself plenty of time. This will eliminate the stress of frantically trying to submit your response with only minutes to spare.   

Step 9 – Awarding and feedback 

The specification should give you an indication of timescales and when the contract will be awarded. Sometimes, unforeseen circumstances will delay the awarding, but you should be notified if this is the case.

When you receive your response from the buyer, hopefully, it is a successful result. However, there are many factors that could contribute to your bid being unsuccessful. It’s important to not be disheartened and ask for feedback. The feedback will help you learn from the exercise and implement your new knowledge into your next bid.

If you are currently tendering for work but not seeing success, we recommend our Tender Improvement package. The service was designed to help businesses, such as yours, to increase your bid success rate.

The package includes;

  • A thorough assessment of your previous tender responses and supporting documents;
  • The re-development of corporate literature, as required, including support from our Bid Designers to help your documents stand out;
  • Support and guidance to help you improve your tender responses;
  • The option of a full bid writing service for your next tender or a guide and review service to help you write your next two bids;
  • 12-months access to the Hudson Discover tendering portal of your choice. 

Sector-specific tips

As multi-disciplinary bid writers, we have worked with businesses in many sectors. Although we never claim to be experts in any one industry, we are experts in bid writing. The following advice is based on our experience.

Don’t see your industry? Call our free Hudson Helpline to ask a quick question about tendering for work in your sector.

How to tender for work in the cleaning industry

The cleaning sector is vast, covering areas such as;

  • Private/Domestic
  • Commercial
  • Corporate
  • Education
  • Industrial
  • Local government

There are many large cleaning businesses that dominate the more sizeable contracts, with values of £1million+.

However, there are many opportunities available for SMEs, with contract values of £2,000 – £150,000. Tendering for these opportunities can be a great way of diversifying your client portfolio and gaining further experience.

In this industry, there is usually an SQ stage followed by an ITT, for successful suppliers. In our experience, cleaning tenders are usually evaluated with a heavier emphasis on price. For example, the buyer could set an evaluation weighting of 60% price and 40% quality. For this reason, it is vital that you remain competitively priced.

This takes us back to step four. Before you bid for any contracts, you must analyse your business and determine the contract values that you will be eligible for. This will ensure that you can remain competitive whilst still profiting.

Find cleaning contract opportunities on our Facilities Tenders portal.

How to tender for work in the creative industry 

The “creative industry” can cover many services such as;

From government authorities to education to private and commercial businesses, there are vast opportunities for this industry.

We have been supporting businesses in the creative and digital sector for almost 20-years. In our experience, these tenders usually take the form of a free-flowing proposal. Instead of the rigid, question and answer, approach in other sectors, free-flowing proposals allow suppliers to demonstrate their creative prowess. It is likely that after this stage, you will be invited to present before the successful supplier is awarded.

Find tendering opportunities, daily, on our Creative Tenders portal.

How to tender for work in the construction sector

If your business operates in the construction sector, you will be aware of the importance of tendering.

In this industry, tendering usually consists of a two-stage process, known as the PQQ (or PAS91) and the ITT. The first stage is simply an elimination process. The buyer wants to be sure that every supplier who submits a final bid is eligible to deliver the contract. If successful at this stage, you will receive an invitation to tender.

We have worked with numerous construction businesses, helping them to submit successful bids. During this time, we have noticed that construction tenders usually require the following;

  • Your bid quality responses;
  • Pricing documents;
  • Form(s) of tender;
  • Bid declaration(s);
  • And supporting information or appendices.

Find new contract opportunities on our Construction Tenders portal.

How to tender for work in the healthcare sector  

Healthcare is one of the sectors that we most frequently work with. Due to an ageing population, tendering opportunities are on the rise and show no signs of slowing down. In 2018 alone, public sector authorities awarded £8billion to healthcare suppliers, with at least £7billion going to SMEs.

If you are a new healthcare business, it is possible to win contracts in the public sector. However, if you have been trading for less than three years, we recommend starting with framework agreements.

Contracting authorities in this sector are looking for two main elements.

  1. Evidence

You must be able to demonstrate your experience in delivering relevant contracts and services. This is usually required in the form of case studies.

  1. Qualifications

Some buyers, in the UK, will specify that you must be CQC registered in order to bid. Some may go further and require a specific rating in order to be eligible to deliver the contract.

We advise taking your time and reading the specification thoroughly. Make sure that you are eligible to avoid wasting time compiling and submitting a tender that you can’t win.

Receive daily alerts, when new care opportunities are published, by joining our Healthcare Tenders portal. 

Need help writing or preparing your bids?

If you are still unsure about how to tender for work, or you simply don’t have time, please get in touch. We offer a suite of services to help your business grow by tendering. Whether you are new to tendering, looking to improve or simply require support with ad-hoc bids, we can support you.

Call or email the team to arrange a free consultation.

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

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