So what sorts of strategies can you put in place to maximise your chances with a tender? In this article I relay a real case study of a tender we prepared for a client and the tactics we put in place to be successful.
In this situation our client, a non profit organisation on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, became aware of a tender opportunity relating to the provision of housing/accommodation for people with disabilities. At that stage my client had no thoughts about delivering accommodation services and was primarily solely a provider of support services for those with a disability in the local area of Nambour. This posed a tremendous issue in my mind given the client had no real experience in building purpose built accommodation for people with a disability nor in managing such a facility. I was concerned that given the tender was open to commercial and non profit entities that developers in the area would have more extensive budgets and maybe more experience in constructing accommodation facilities while probably lacking in experience in the disability space.
My client was keen to develop a proposal where they proposed a plan to build accommodation for those with a physical disability, however they did not have any land on which to build the facility so essentially were working from scratch. Through my extensive grant and tender writing experience I immediately identified the need for the client to have an appropriate parcel of land which they could at worst show was able to be quickly acquired on which to build the accommodation facility. I encouraged the client to make overtures to a few residents in an area close to their existing service hub and offer each resident a price in excess of market value and get in principal agreement from the residents to sell their properties should the client win the tender.
This was achieved surprisingly very quickly with written in principal agreements being received. This "proved" that the client had the land to build on. I then strongly suggested to the client that they should build purpose built accommodation for those with a mental and physical disability or health issue as opposed to purely physical disabilities. I undertook research to prove that mental illness is a significant issue in those who are homeless and was able to garner some significant and impressive statistics supporting this contention. I then undertook research to identify how accommodation could be built to meet the needs of people with a physical disability and/or those with a mental illness. The client then took this research and was able to get an architect to draw up some plans which depicted the style of building and how different units in the complex would be constructed differently built to meet the specific needs of the proposed residents.
I was also able to get the client to have graphic designs included giving the reader a real insight into how the rooms might actually "look". To me this would give us a unique chance at winning the tender by enabling the reader to visualise how the facility would look and feel while also pitching that the accommodation would encompass the needs of all people with a disability - physical and mental. I was convinced that our competitors for the tender would only just develop a proposal for those with a physical disability.
The last hurdle I believed was that the client had no real experience in proving they could manage an accommodation facility once built. To overcome this I encouraged the client to find an experienced manager of such facilities and offer them the position of manager should the tender be successful and again get in principal written confirmation that this person would join the team. Again the client was able to find someone highly experienced in this area.
We then prepared a comprehensive response we believed which would at least give us a chance at getting through Stage 1 given this was a two stage process. We were amazed to find that we were offered $4.9 million after the review of all applications in the first stage and we were told our submission was so outstanding that they were not going to stage 2 - our proposal was that good.
This success was completely a result of our strategic approach in identifying our weaknesses and addressing those but also ensuring our proposal was very very different to our competitors.
The skilled tender writer will have a strategy - they will have a plan and they will maximise their chances in the tender writing process.
Our skills are not just in our abilities to write great tenders but also to come up with the strategies and pitch to stand our client apart. Tender writing is far far more than just filling out a form!