Following our webinar, Three Essentials to State and Local Contracting, we had a number of questions that we were not able to answer in the time allotted. Below is a summary of the questions and the presenters' answers.
The recorded session and slides from the webinar can be reviewed here >
What suggestions do you have for premium priced providers in an industry to win government contracts and not have to sacrifice margins?
Focusing on the value your company offers is key; but you have to be working with the agency prior to bid publication to influence what is deemed valuable. Just responding to a bid without establishing your value has a low win probability if value has already been set by someone else. The best strategy is to find the opportunities before the bids are published so you can influence the specifications. By doing your due diligence and finding the right agencies, contacts and projects beforehand you can choose which contracts you want to influence and which ones will value your solution.
How do you identify the best agencies with which to work for the solutions you provide?
One of the best ways is review previous award history. This will give you an idea of the agency focus, objectives, and needs for which you offer a solution. You can also often find agency contacts in the awards who can provide more information. For complex opportunities good relationships are critical for understanding, influence and award consideration.
What are some key trends that are influencing agency contracts in today's marketplace?
Agencies are always sensitive to cost, but this does not mean they don't take other factors into consideration. Current trends that are showing a strong influence on agency spending focus on:
- Improving efficiencies- Through areas like consolidation, outsourcing (e.g: cloud infrastructure), and private financing.
- Anything green- state and local governments are pushing to find ways to reduce cost through the use of green initiatives like building more efficient buildings and upgrading existing buildings to be more energy efficient.
- Public-private partnerships- agencies are increasingly looking to partner with private sector providers for funding and management of projects. These are known as P3s. Good examples of these are road projects that are funded by private sources. Other projects like hospitals which can be funded and maintained by private partnerships are also a focus for agencies to reduce the cost and challenge of managing large projects.
What suggestions do you have to compete with the minority business enterprise or woman business enterprise (MBE/WBE) benefits? We understand why those programs exist but that sometimes carries more weight than we would hope when comparing the value and strengths of our company that does not have that benefit.
First, building relationships puts you in a position to be able to educate the government decision makers regarding the differences in your solutions. Second, it depends on whether there are MBE/WBE requirements in the specific market or not. If there are requirements then you will have to partner with an MBE/WBE.
What are the top three growth industries for most states?
Transportation, Construction, Information Technology and Office Equipment are all showing strong signs of growth at the state and local level. At Onvia we believe this will continue. Right now we are seeing significant increases in spending in these sectors so it is prime time to start working to influence future bidding opportunities and develop relationships with agencies focused on spending in these areas.
Have you noticed a lot more "sources sought" notices in lieu of actual RFPs? This seems to be a way for the government to garner interest and potential participation from certain groups.
Yes, as Al mentioned during the webinar, governments are turning to more flexible forms of procurement. You are correct that this is an excellent way for the government to determine interest levels and the types of companies that will respond.
How do you go about expanding an existing contract? We offer preliminary estimating but we are trying to expand our services in that area.
Expanding contracts is something that every company should focus on. It is easier to expand an existing contract than to win a new contract. To expand an existing contract you have to start by servicing your current contract well. Top level performance is key to success, since the government entity must view your company as their partner in providing solutions. Second, you must take advantage of any current contract relationships to further develop close ties with the government decision makers and operators. Third, you must treat the expansion as a new sales effort and devote the necessary resources to grow the contract.
How do we as general contractor get leads before the general public?
This comes down to making sure you are working with agency contacts and have good relationships. Then, look for recurring contracts or term contracts that have dates for renewals. You can plan on a bid being published when the previous one has expired. Onvia has the capability to help identify these for you.
How do you get at budget numbers for projects when government does not offer it readily when you ask it during Q&A?
A good source is to look for previous awards for similar projects. You can review them to see if they contain any information on the budgets allocated for those projects. You can also look for spending plans or intent from agency meeting minutes. Onvia can provide these plans in many cases up to five years into the future.
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