Working With Your Local Council – Everything You Need To Know To Have a Productive Working Relationship

Working with the local or federal government can be lucrative, and you don’t have to be a big corporation to take advantage of the opportunities available. However, several things must be considered before you start the bidding process.

In this article, we’ll address how to source contracts, how to bid on contracts and what to do when you’ve won the contract.

Meeting the Criteria to Apply for a Government Contract

Before you can even start looking for contracts to bid on, you must be honest: is your business ready? Government agencies will have strict criteria around which companies can bid and what happens if you do not meet the obligations you agreed to.

Things to consider before bidding are:

• Do you and your staff have the relevant accreditations, qualifications, experience and permits?
• Do you have enough staff?
• Do you have the right equipment?
• What is your turnover? Some contracts will only accept tenders from companies of a specific size.
• Is the contract ring-fenced for a particular minority group? Are you a member of that group?
• What types of contracts are available? Are there copies of previous bids available for consideration?
• The U.S. Chamber of Commerce gives information on what criteria can strengthen your bid and how to assess if you are ready to place a bid.

Finding Contracts to Bid on

Many websites list available government contracts. Some sites are free and some have an associated subscription cost. You can search by county, state and other criteria to find contracts relevant to your business.

Most states will have a dedicated website listing available contracts— a quick search on Google will bring them up. Alternatively, some sites cover the entire country.

Some of the most well-known websites for this purpose are:

• FindRFP (paid service): Lists both regional and national opportunities
• US Government Forecast of Contracting Opportunities (free service): Lists federal opportunities
• (paid service): Lists regional and federal opportunities

Bidding on the Contract

You’ve researched and found a relevant contract you feel you can fulfill; now it’s time for the application and bidding process. Considering the following points are crucial if you want to be successful:

• Read the solicitation and all accompanying documentation and make sure you are familiar with the obligations of the contract you are bidding for.
• Make sure you complete all the paperwork thoroughly and accurately.
• Some agencies mandate meetings before bidding can begin; make sure you attend.
• Submit everything required on time. Missing the deadline could disqualify you from bidding.
• Research costs and prices, look at past awards and consider what pricing was successful.
• Don’t hide costs when submitting your pricing. It will make you look unprofessional and may harm your chances of winning the contract.
• Confused about something? Ask questions. Make sure you clarify details before submitting your bid because, in most cases, there will not be an opportunity to review your bid once you’ve submitted it.

Working the Contract

If you succeed and win the contract you bid on, congratulations! Now the hard work begins. Here are some pointers to ensure that your working relationship with the municipality, county or state agency goes as smoothly as possible:

• Have one point of contact: Having multiple points of contact can delay getting the answer you need or confuse a situation.
• Communicate, communicate, communicate: It cannot be stressed how important this is to ensure everything continues to run smoothly.
• Track your obligations: Make sure you have a process for tracking and monitoring your contractual obligations — penalties can be stiff if you fail to provide the service that has been agreed upon. Monitoring will help you manage any issues that come up.

With a bit of thought and a lot of work, government contracts can be a great way to build your reputation and income.

For more helpful advice on how to grow your street sweeping or paving business, subscribe to the North American Sweeper Magazine today — digital subscriptions are free!