I have spent many hours this month preparing a tender to provide telephone answering services to a housing authority. As those of you who partake in this activity on a frequent basis know, it involves an arduous task of completing pre qualification questionnaires, submitting policy statements relating to every area of your business, and producing a comprehensive description of how you will fulfill the obligations of the contract. For those of you that are yet to embark on bidding for work this way, be assured that preparing tenders is time-consuming, costs money and ties up valuable resources.
Office Response has been successful in winning contracts through this process so there is a definite business benefit for doing so. We provide telephone answering services to many public sector bodies and many of these contracts were won through tender. However, one of the most frustrating elements of the process is when the client requesting tender submissions advises that they are canceling the tendering process. Annoyingly, this usually occurs after you have done all the hard work.
In this instance, the message received was that the client was ‘..not in a position to continue with this tender opportunity..’. No further explanation was given and no mention of regard to the many companies that would have spent time and money submitting tenders.
Which begs the question – Should the public sector be held accountable for the costs that the private sector incurs when the tender is withdrawn? Out of the 3 public sector tenders we have submitted in April, 2 of them were withdrawn by the client before the end of the process. Of course, one must consider that they may not have wanted the services in the first place and put the work out to tender because that was the ‘procedure’. If this was the case (and yes, it does happen) then everyone suffers.
The Business Link website offers these nuggets of wisdom to stop us being caught out by dubious tenders…’Make sure the client is serious, and that you’re not there just to make up the numbers or to test the market. Sometimes customers may just be fishing for ideas they’ll then use for themselves. You can prevent this from happening by requesting customers to sign a non-disclosure agreement before presenting your tender. But don’t forget many clients genuinely want you to make a creative contribution and provide ideas.’ Genius!
By Steve West
Marketing & Business Development Manager