FOR any business, identifying potential customers and growing its client base will be crucial to its success and perhaps even survival.
There may be opportunities for businesses to offer their products or services to organisations that have specific procurement requirements, such as having approved supplier lists or those that have a need for quotations or tenders to be submitted in order to award a contract.
Tendering can on the surface appear to be quite a complicated process but in fact it is fairly straightforward. Submitting a tender is common practice for businesses supplying goods or services to other businesses or the public sector, so for most companies it is important to understand the process and learn how to respond in the best possible way.
At a basic level you expect to quote for a job or write a letter saying why you should be given the business. More formal tenders often apply to larger jobs or for supply contracts spread over a longer period of time. Public sector work in particular -– ranging from your local council or hospital to a central government department – has specific tendering processes. Even if you don't win the work, writing a tender can clarify your aims, strengths and weaknesses and you can learn for next time by asking for feedback on your bid. It raises your profile with the customer and helps you learn about customers' needs and expectations.
So how do you find out about and generate tendering opportunities? For private sector contracts start by building contacts with potential customers. As a matter of course, research developments and follow up on reports, such as newspaper articles that may lead to or identify a demand for your products or services.
Public sector contracts often have to be published, so following up contract notices is the easiest way of finding these opportunities. It is also worthwhile to monitor online government tender notices – see the Supply2.gov.uk website – or for larger contracts to visit the Tenders Electronic Daily (TED) website, at http://ted.europa.eu/TED/main/ HomePage.do. For non-EU public sector contracts, the UKTI website is a useful source of information – http://www.uktradeinvest.gov.uk .
When drafting a tender, a good starting point is to make a list of all the questions you would ask if a company was submitting a tender to you. For further information about Business Link visit www.businesslink.gov.uk/northeast or call 0845 600 9 006.
Tracy Clarkson of Business Link