There are a handful of requirements for vendors wishing to compete for Federal contracts. They must have a DUNS number and they must complete CCR registration and ORCA filing. Once these three basics are out of the way, they are eligible for government contracts.
However, in order to turn eligibility into success, vendors need to do more than just register and meet the minimum requirements. The SBA recommends marketing “aggressively” in order to succeed in the highly competitive Federal market. While there are many resources and tools available for vendors to do that, we’re going to list five easily overlooked “secret weapons” vendors should have in their arsenal.
SBA Program Participation
The Small Business Administration offers many set-aside designations and special assistance programs for qualified businesses. These include designations for groups such as Minority Owned and Veteran Owned small businesses, and programs such as 8(a) and HUBZone. By participating in these programs, you can get vital assistance for your company and qualify for set-aside contracts exclusively for particular special interest groups.
Agency Specific Registrations
Some Federal agencies require more than just CCR registration to work with them. Agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency maintain their own registries of qualified vendors. To find out what an individual agency’s general requirements are for contract awards, search for their procurement or acquisitions page. An easy way to do this is to perform a Google search with the phrase “Doing Business With” and the agency’s name. In most cases, one of the first results returned will be that agency’s webpage that is concerned with contracting.
Any business interested in Federal contracts should strongly consider building a company website. A study conducted by the AMP Agency earlier this year showed that at least 43% of consumers researched a product to some degree before making a purchase. 94% said their research positively influenced their decision to buy. When the Federal Government becomes a consumer, many of the same marketing rules apply and having a strong online presence will work to your advantage. Many agencies even require that vendors have some sort of website before they will even consider them for a contract. Creating a basic, simple website is a low cost marketing maneuver that will help you attract customers in both the public and private sectors.
We’ve covered the SBA’s Dynamic Small Business Search in previous blog entries, but it’s worth returning to this subject to point out an often omitted section of the listing: Past Performance. It is extremely important that you list Past Performance references in your DSBS profile. In most cases, if this information is missing, no matter your other qualifications the contracting officer will skip past to the next vendor they’re considering. Even if your company has never been awarded a contract, list a contract that was completed by the principal(s). No government contracts? List private sector work you’ve completed. What the government wants to see is that you are experienced, skilled and dependable. You will get the job done and do it well.
A capabilities statement is like a resume for your business. It is a brief, concise, one-page document that highlights your company’s qualifications. This is another government marketing tool we’ve covered before, but we can’t stress enough how powerful this simple document can be. A well designed capabilities statement goes a long way in introducing you to a potential buyer and establishing your company’s brand.