Read the Bid Package Carefully
When it comes to bid packages, the devil is in the details. Be sure to carefully read the bid in its entirety, making certain you understand exactly what you need to submit.
As you read the package, be honest with yourself about whether you are able to do the work in a way that is fair to the City and profitable for your business. If you aren’t confident in your ability to deliver, you should pass.
Bids often require insurance, references and bonding. If you cannot submit the required documentation for these elements before you bid, your application will likely be rejected. Be aware of these requirements before you prepare a proposal.
Know the Evaluation Criteria
While it’s tempting to assume that City contracts are simply awarded to the lowest bidder, price is just one of many factors the City considers when evaluating bids.
In certain cases, the City may assign more points to a bid’s technical approach than its price. In this case, showcasing a strong technical approach over a lower price would work in your favor.
Every bid is different. It’s important to know the rules of the competition before you submit a bid.
Stick to the Schedule
Each bid has a specific timeline, and you’ll want to follow it carefully. Dates listed in the timeline may include a release date, bid meeting date, and question and answer period.
The most important date is the deadline. Make sure to budget enough time to deliver the bid by this date. Factor any necessary uploading, printing, mailing or delivery times into your bidding process.
Utilize the Question and Answer Period
The Question and Answer period is an important part of the bidding process. Agencies use it to clarify issues related to timeline, bid requirements and the nature of the work.
The City expects and welcomes queries about the process, so use the Question and Answer period to your advantage. If a careful rereading of the bid package does not answer your questions, this period is the time to ask. Human error happens, and sometimes the City can miss a word or deadline. Be certain of the requirements in order to put your business in the best position to win the bid.
The Question and Answer period is usually a fixed window of time. Be sure to submit all questions before the deadline, and only submit to the contact listed on the bid package. Other agency representatives are usually not permitted to talk to potential vendors, and doing so could disqualify you.
Prepare a Proposal Outline
After rereading the bid package, prepare a plan for how you will build your proposal. Each section of a proposal has detailed requirements. Begin your outline by listing each of these sections with the relevant requirements underneath.
After each requirement, create bullet points that address how you will fulfill them. For example, if you need to provide a list of references, create a bulleted list of some of your best customers, and your plan for contacting each one.
Once you have a solid outline, you can do the more detailed work of writing each section. This process ensures you are answering all the relevant questions.
Price your Bid Appropriately
Pricing your bid can be tricky. A good starting point is to reread the Scope of Work to make sure your price reflects the work you will need to do. Past contracts from similar work can provide a benchmark for what you should charge.
The most important consideration for a small business is whether or not you can afford to complete the work. If you can’t make money from the contract and still stay competitive, you should consider passing on the bid.
If you are required to provide equipment or materials, make sure you have a good relationship with a supplier. The City will often want to see evidence of this relationship, so you should consider listing your supplier as a reference.
It’s finally time to submit your bid! Before your submission, create a checklist of all requirements, and have a fresh pair of eyes review your proposal for mistakes or missing information.
You should subject your proposal to several rounds of edits before you submit. Pay particular attention to spelling, grammar and comprehension, as small errors may detract from your hard work.
Ensure that your final proposal meets the submission requirements and that you have a plan to submit your proposal, either in-person, by mail, or by email.
Be sure to request either a written or verbal confirmation of receipt when you submit your bid.
The Law Department reviews all contracts issued from Purchasing, and authorizes the appropriate signatures. City legal may reach out to you with questions at this time, and you can also use this period to get your questions answered.
Don’t panic if the decision seems delayed. It can sometimes take longer than anticipated for the City to review a bid.
Be careful about how and when you ask questions during this period. Make sure any inquiries are directed to the bid contact only. Reaching out to an agency contact could disqualify you from winning the contract.
Don’t be discouraged if you lose a contract. The bid process is a great learning experience, and your business is now a known entity to agencies and potential partners.
Requesting a formal debrief from the procurement team is a great way to receive feedback on your submission. The Kansas Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) is another good resource to increase your odds of success on future bids.