Blog: Top tips for SMES on building a healthy pipeline for 2019

Debbie MacKenzie, general manager at Proactis based in Aberdeen, provides some top tips for construction businesses looking to successfully bid for and win work.

Blog: Top tips for SMES on building a healthy pipeline for 2019

Debbie MacKenzie

Businesses in the construction sector can find it a daunting prospect to build a fresh new pipeline of work for the New Year.

Many will spend months developing a strategy on how to approach new clients, while their competitors are out there actually winning business.

Public sector contracts in particular are highly sought after but many SMEs in the industry struggle to secure them. With over £27 billion of public spend on construction in 2017 however – and huge levels of investment coming this year and beyond - now is the ideal time for construction businesses to be considering the plethora of opportunities available.

For many smaller operators, bidding for public contracts is seen as too much of a challenge or way beyond their means. This has been backed up by a recent survey we did with some of our clients where we found 54% of businesses felt they needed more need training around bid writing, while 39% said they feel they need more support around creating a healthy tender pipeline.

Although it can be daunting for SMEs who have not thrown their hat into the public sector ring, we believe there are some simple steps that can be taken which will ultimately help to build a healthy new business pipeline for the year ahead.

  1. Be in it to win it

It’s always frustrating to learn a rival company has secured a coveted business opportunity, especially one that was never on your radar, and this can be particularly true of public sector contracts. Signing up for a tender alert service not only ensures you are aware of opportunities that are relevant to the services you offer, but also makes it easier to meet deadlines and submit successful bids.

It’s also important to be mindful that more and more tender opportunities are being compartmentalised into framework agreements, so it’s vital that businesses are quick off the mark in finding them and should try to identify upcoming opportunities as far in advance as possible in order to build a good pipeline.

  1. Understand and learn the lingo

Understanding the terminology used in public sector tendering can be difficult, so it’s important to grasp the purpose and process involved with all the relevant documents so that you can create a compliant bid. From PQQs and ITTs to SSQs and social value clauses*, there is a lot to figure out before you’re ready to bid successfully. Getting your head around these is time well spent – the documentation and resources you create will form the basis of your tendering activities in the long term.

  1. Brush up on your writing skills

Not everyone is a natural born writer, and with multiple sections and strict word counts, public sector tenders can be a big turn off for smaller construction companies who don’t have a dedicated procurement team.

The first thing to do in this case is to consider training – there are some great courses and webinars which can help you develop your tender content to ensure you score well on the meatier questions.

  1. Utilise free resources

There is a wealth of resources out there to help with everything from how to communicate your CSR initiatives in your bid submissions to how to understand the process of working with multiple suppliers on a joint bid.

  1. Don’t give up!

It’s easy to be put off if you don’t win the first tender you go for but it’s important not to give up at the first hurdle. You are always entitled to feedback from the buyers so always seek a detailed assessment of what you can improve on so you can nail the next one!

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