On June 20, BRAC hosted Louisiana Procurement Technical Assistance Center’s Senior Procurement Consultant Cindy Carrier at the David E. Roberts Center for Economic Development as part of its Small Business Series. Carrier provided professional insight to an array of small business owners from across the Capital Region on landing a government contract. Whether for a local, state, or federal contract, LA PTAC has assisted Louisiana businesses in this field since 1989 and has helped secure over $8.6 billion in government contract awards for their clients.
Check out the top three tips provided during Carrier’s presentation:
Know Your Resources: Credit Cards, GSA FSS, and Requests for Proposal
As a small business owner, it’s important that you establish a sound credit history to secure a credit card for your business expenditures. Your credit limit will depend on your years of experience. An important tip when securing a credit card is to avoid mentioning government work as banks are likely to increase the APR or other rates.
Business owners should also think twice before opting for a General Services Administration Federal Supply Schedule (GSA FSS), a long-term government contract that provides federal, state, and local government buyers access to commercial supplies and products at volume discount pricing. While designed to handle all procurement needs for a fee (~1.75%), the paperwork can take up to nine months to put together, which may not be feasible for most businesses.
Finally, a Request for Proposal (the solicitation document used in a negotiated procurement) is the hardest part of government contracting, but you should not be discouraged. According to Carrier, the government knows what it wants the end product to be, but doesn’t know how to get there, and uses the proposal to pull out the information it needs. It’s up to you as the expert to map out how to arrive at the final product and for the government to choose which among many maps it believes is the best. It is not uncommon for the government to go back and negotiate with you after receiving your proposal, and it’s important to remember that not every section of the solicitation document will be included in your solicitation/bid package.
Tackle the Uniform Contract in Order of Importance
Request for Proposal contracts can be long and intimidating, but don’t let that discourage you from securing your award. How do you best complete the contract without getting confused? The best way to navigate the uniform contract is to view it as a table of contents, similar to what you’d find in a book.
First, start with the most important subjects in the contract: the proposal due date, delivery location, items requested, and quantity. The second most important part of the contract is the “Evaluation Factors for Award” section. Your entire proposal should be written based on this section as it informs you of the criteria on which the government will evaluate your proposal. Lastly, make sure to fully review the instructions, conditions, and notices to offerors and don’t skip through the contract clauses. This will let you know how and what the proposal should look like. And make sure your proposal is on time or it will be thrown away!
Build a Winning Proposal
There is no standard winning proposal format. Business owners must tailor proposals to what works best for their respective companies, but these tips can help you to be on the winning side more often than not: 1) build a relationship with the contracting officer before submission of a proposal, and in doing so be both responsive (did you answer all their questions?) and responsible (can you do your job for a fair and reasonable price?); 2) make your proposal as aesthetically-pleasing as possible (using pie charts, tables, graphs and graphics wherever possible); and, 3) address informal or unstated desires by contacting the contractor and learning what he/she prefers in the proposal. If you’d like to learn more about the services provided by LA PTAC, visit their website. To further bolster BRAC’s commitment to small business services, LA PTAC recently moved into the David E. Roberts Center for Economic Development and now resides in the Raising Canes Entrepreneurial Hub where you can find Cindy Carrier from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday.
As the Economic Research and Policy Analyst at BRAC, Jason conducts research to support key policy focus areas, including workforce development, education, small business, and others, in addition to tracking economic, legislative and market trends impacting the region.