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To bid or not to bid? That is the question!

Jun 02, 2014

With the UK economy finally mounting a sustained recovery, exciting new opportunities seem to be presenting themselves to businesses in a wide range of industries.

Hugely lucrative rail, utilities, highways, construction and manufacturing contracts have been put out to tender in the last few months - a clear sign that Britain is getting back into the swing of things following some extremely difficult years during the financial crisis. Recent reports by the Confederation of British Industry have confirmed that firms operating in the services and manufacturing sectors are full of confidence at the moment, and with good reason.

While it’s understandable that business owners are desperate to grow as fast as they can, they need to step back and take stock of their current standing - especially when it comes to bidding for new contracts.

At Thornton & Lowe, we’ve seen on countless occasions that some firms try to run before they can walk. Although the thought of successfully bidding for a multi-billion pound railway contract is attractive, does your company really have the necessary infrastructure to cope with the task at hand?

Why you should adopt a bid/no bid process

There’s no harm in submitting a speculative bid for a big contract, right? Wrong!

Businesses that have adopted a scattergun approach to bid management will inevitably incur more costs than those that are far more strategic. Tendering for contracts is an expensive and time consuming process, and with so much competition for each project, you need to be confident of your chances from the outset.

Before you come to a final decision, write yourself a checklist:

• Can we win this bid?
• Can we offer a competitive solution?
• Is there a lot of competition?
• Do we understand what our competitors are offering?
• Can we match their resources/track record?
• What is our relationship with the client like?
• Do we have the resources and time to submit a bid?
• Do we have the capacity to deliver if our bid is successful?
• Do we understand the exact requirements of the contract?
• Have we got enough experience to follow this through to the end?

By asking yourself these ten questions, you’ll be able to assess whether or not it is worth committing valuable funds and time towards writing a formal bid.

Cost-effective bidding

Many companies don’t have the in-house expertise to write a bid, which is why more firms are outsourcing this process. Of course, a bid is always going to be more cost-effective if it is successful, and companies are certainly attracted to Thornton & Lowe’s impressive 85% strike rate in this regard.

We go the extra mile for all of our clients to ensure they get their hands on lucrative contracts, and we thrive under pressure (tenders always have tight deadlines, which is one of the main reasons that many businesses simply cannot deliver their own bids). It’s important for all enterprises to have a clear bidding strategy in place. For example, it’s far more prudent to approach a specialist bid writing team to submit one or two bids on your behalf than to have your own inexperienced employees launching dozens at a time in the hope that one will eventually fall into place.

There is no doubt that these are exciting times for British organisations, and it’s easy to see why many entrepreneurs believe they are on the brink of a golden era, but don’t get too carried away!

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