Bidding Tips #4 – Writing

Writing is easy for some, difficult for others but writing winning tenders remains challenging for all!

As a result of of this let’s look at three key aspects:-

  • Style
  • Structure
  • Content

It is easy to confuse all, however, it is important to know the difference.

Writing Style

Described as the narrative aspect of the response Style is the basic component in a Bid or Tender.

To neglect style indicates loss of focus on the buyer, therefore the same style doesn’t suit every application process.

Keeping the information relevant to the reader depends of adjusting the approach to meet the buyer’s specification.

Tip 1 –

use a reflective style in responding to the opportunity. Where the specification uses very short sentences and paragraphs, few multi-syllable words and word pictures, respond in the same way.

More expansive specification content and the inclusion of reference points, data sources and guidelines does indicate the buyer is looking for synergy.

Tip 2 –

adopt “one voice” when responding. This ensures that the answers flow. Individual contributions require editting everytime.

Example:

A Construction Company requested support following 12 months of failing to secure 1 of the 30 opportunities they bid for.

We asked the Buyers for their feedback in other words we found out why specific bids failed.

Reviewing the scoring trends the same parts of the response scored poorly. Common factor two senior managers refused to allow junior staff to edit their content.

This immediately changed and they were successful.

Lesson – Carry on repeating the same error and it is the same result.

Conclusion – style counts and it takes time to master

Structure

Opportunities always arrive with clear guidance. Failing to study the guidance leads to issues with bid and tender structure.

Cataloguing or Indexing are classic issues. As a buyer it was common to have bids and tenders returned with the requests on structure, format and file attachments totally ignored.

When there are a lot of responses structural issues with bids cause them to be ignored.

Structured answers generate better scores. Where the buyer has created a composite question answer in the same order. If this requires some repetition that works.

The question has been asked in that format for a specific reason.

Consequently structure your answer:-

Tip 3 –

Statement, reason, evidence and justification statement.

This lets the Buyer know you understood the question, your reason for responding this way based on the evidence you have provided. The final statement reinforces the competence.

 Tip 4 –

Create a clear format for evidence. This ensures that the buyer gets the point. Fluid evidence reduces the potential for scoring.

Content

Verbage, redundant words and irrelevant page fillers create confusion consequently resulting in poor scoring opportunities.

Therefore, a lack of white space, total text, prevents the reader from absorbing the information and reduces the likelihood that everything is read thoroughly.

Charts for chart sake and the same with pictures fail to enhance the document. They may look pretty and break up the page. However, chose with care.

Above all use:

  • Short sentences.
  • Short papragraphs.
  • Clear answers.

Hiding the response in words is a classic content issue. Clarity, Brevity and Relevance are the best editing tools on content.

Tip 5-

Edit content with two questions – does it answer the question? is it relelvant to the response.

The bid and tender writers working with our clients ensure that the content, structure and style present the appropriate picture of competence, capacity and capability.

Tip 6 –

Consequently, word redundancy, wasted content and long paragraphs are distracting, keep it short and clear. If you can say it in 100 words then do!

Hands On workshops

Therefore the Spring Masterclasses and Tender Writing workshops are designed to explore aspects of this subject in depth. Join us for the “hands on” workshops in London, Birmingham and the South West.

Contact us for the next dates.

Ontogenesis – Ontogeny

Ontogeny releasing total growth

Ontogenesis – the development of an individual organism [business] or anatomical or behavioural feature from the earliest stage to maturity.

A word that describes the process of Business Development.

Ontogeny

Ontogeny

One word that conveys the full meaning of development and growth. As an organic body needs to develop in all aspects, so does a business.

As analysts we disect the whole of the business to understand the impact of development. Isolate the risks, therefore ensuring the planned.

Specifying the order for sustainable growth. Consequently empowering mature business development.

Reason for adjustment

Pidgeonholing a development practice limits the scope of impact. Tender writers win new business, we’re very successful. However, the service impacts on all all aspects of the business.

Ontogenesis desribes the holistic approach. As change occurs in one area it affects another. Therefore, the team address the impact and develop adjustments as required.

Business writing requires that the language used encapsulates meaning, empowers the author and moves the reader to action.

The difference between advertising, marketing and tender writing focuses on the evidence base. Words are our tool.

Impact

Every tender requires an opportunity analysis. Successful bids are deliverable contracts.

Experience contiues to demonstrate that bids based on promises require additional work once contracts are secured.

Using the process of ontogenesis – the whole business development model – clients are prepared for expansion. Consequently the alterations in practice are minimal.

Policy Audits

A critical review process of every policy linked to a tender or development plan requires objectivity. Additionally, honesty.

Off the shelf policy packs are the start. Use procedures and processes to describe how the policy is implemented. Then check it works.

Pricing

Flawed development stems from poor pricing!

Hourly rates calculated by undercutting the competition create complications in development.

Pricing of products based on apparent market rates for similar products are unsustainable.

The uncertainty created requires an immediate remedy. Therefore, be ready to change.

Additionally make acurate pricing a priority

Staffing

“The Business out grew the staff” or “we needed other skills” indicates a need for more effective staff development and training tools.

Staffing requirements always change, develop a flexible, learning and progressive core before it becomes a crisis.

Customer Loyalty

Repeat business is essential, however, new business fuels development.

Therefore:

Define new business

– previous clients or customers that return to buy more of the same are valuable. However, when they buy additional products and services they are investing in your growth.

Up sell other products and services. Ensure advice is impartial and in the best interests of the customer. They trust you, like and want to do business with you.

Allow the customer to choose.

Conclusion

Consequently, Ontogeny is the whole process of development. Working with our team unlocks all the areas of development, creating the sustainable platform for growth.

Call or contact us to discuss how Ontogenesis releases the potential.

 

Opportunity Sourcing

The right Opportunity “enables” the tender writing team.

Tender writing is competitive, therefore, the goal must be achievable!

The right tender opportunity empowers the team and the content.

Three points to consider

TiGolf Link not wasted I hope Time, Evidence, Experienceme

Experience

Evidence

 

Time

Create time and prepare for the “Opportunity”.  Consequently time to correct and polish.

Short lead times create stress, consequently unnecessary tension. A listener hears tension in the voice, the buyer reads uncertainty.

Consequently Team Directors that exploit all the lead time ensure a competitive potential winning tender!

The Lesson therefore:-
Prepare the opportunity,
remain focused!
Experience

The “opportunity” builds on the existing experience of the business.

Tight fitting, verbous tenders are likened to slim fit suits on overweight models. Everyone can see the problems.

An experienced team tailors the presentation of information to suit the tender opportunity.

The lack of experience is evident in the repetitous structure of the tender.

Engender collective ownership of the opportunity when drawing on the experience of the business. Everyone supports the winning team.

Evidence

The “opportunity” creates a broad scope for evidence.

One project referred to 10 tens in a tender response can emphasise the lack of experience. Evidence embeds the competence and flexibility.

Use images, photographs, charts, case studies and customer feedback.

Ensure the evidence is specific, clear and linked to the specific evaluation measure for maximum scoring.

                                               Evidence pyramid

In contrast, gathering evidence after the opportunity is published again creates an unnecessary pressure. The combination is often skewed or the linking points tenuoius.

Create a library of evidence.Likewise The Winning tender requires excellent preparation.

Competition

Be Realistic!

Example: How many of the 124 football clubs in the FA Cup (from the first round proper) have the potential to win the trophy?

All 124 participants. But, only 20 survive to the 3rd round when the big clubs join in. For that reason: Who are the more confident? Who has a better chance to win?

The Lesson therefore:-
Start from a position of confidence. 

Therefore, apply this winning tender writing process. Establish the core elements of the bid, settle them before the opportunity is published and provide the evidence.

That completes compliance.

Establish the financial security of the business and that creates the business competence.

Stage three is where the competitive element and skill of the tender writing team secures the business.

winning opportunities

Conclusion

Compliance and financial competence meet the “opportunity” requirements. Therefore, the team remain focused on winning.

Winning tenders require the right opportunity selection, therefore use the best notification services.

Furthermore Outsource to Tender Management and Writing professionals.

Ensure the preparation, resources, document management and ongoing evidence collation, start with confidence.

Contact Mark to discuss the service we provide. Finally discuss the training options available to bid writing teams.

Consequently:
Develop the Winning Habit! 

 

Bidding Skills #1

This Bidding Skills series is an opportunity to share key tools with other bid writers. Enhancing the winning process underpins continued success.

The #1 Skill is Attitude – Keep Learning

The Bidding Structure

Notice
Opportunity
Expression of Interest
Bidding model 
Submission
Evaluation 
Outcome

This is a straightforward process – when complete we just move on to the next opportunity, don’t we?

Our Learning Opportunities

  •  Wins! – We need to understand how!
  • Unsuccessful – then understand Why?

Two valuable resources for the succfessful bid writer.

Your winning tender or bid response had something that resonated with the buyer. Identifying just what achieved that outcome ensures that it is used in the next opportunity. Also that you begin to compile more evidence supporting the evaluation.

So always ask for feedback on winning submissions. Analyse the best parts and then identify areas that you thought you would do well with, however the scores indicate that more is required. 

Winning example:

10 is excellence, 1 is failed to impress. 

On your customer service or experience you expect to score 8 however the evalation process scores it 6. Ask three questions:

  1. What did we leave out?
  2. Why was this average?
  3. What should we include?

A valuable session in the one day workshop focuses on Learning from Winning. These three questions require the delegates to look at the evaluation criteria with their business in view. The discussion highlights that many think what they do for the customer is excellent, however it is just the same as every competitor.

The reason is linked to sweeping generalised responses, so we encourage specific examples of postive customer experience. These experiences also have a limited shelf life. Over 6 months ago and these are historical, the events need to be hot of the press and contain specific statements from the customer. 

Unsuccessful analysis 

Blame isn’t the result of proper learning analysis, improvement follows. Looking at what a bid or tendered failed often highlights individual omissions, failures and errors. 

Attributing them to an individual creates an unnecessary pressure. Look for the learning points. 

The first is: Why didn’t these things get picked up before we submitted the bid? Where in the process was this missed? 

Now take a little time to follow up on who won. Research the company, did they outsource? Are you percieved as a natural competitor? 

Now look at your score thresholds: it is common to find that average is often mistaken for excellent. Achieving and industry standard is not excellence, however add value to that achievement by explaining the impact and score move upwards.

Learning New lessons

Every bid and tender manager goes through a lean patch because that is the nature of the creative approach, however we never go through a patch where we stop learning.

When the win ratio begins to drop improve a specific skill, use a new tool, start training new staff or audit the business systems. Remember learning in business is the primary tool that leads to success.

Conclusion 

Therefore, can we win everything we go for? Only if we are the only company buidding. Competition leads to both winning and losing. 

Learning from losing is important but learning from winning is equally important.

Need assistance in analysising Bids and Tenders then contact us

Social Care the solution not the problem

The Social Care problems are not the cause of NHS bed blocking, these are the result of the failing Care Sector! The Media hype identifies Social Care as the pinch point for service strain. The problem is elsewhere.

Local Authorities point a lack of affordable Care and the quality of Care is their primary concern.

An article Published in the Guardian Newspaper last November pointed to the 380 Care Homes that had filed for bankruptcy since 2010.

Removing that capacity from the marketplace must have a real knock-on effect. If only 60% of those client spaces were occupied, we must ask where did they go? All existing capacity is absorbing the increased demand; so what happens when people are moved on? Who picks up the strain?

The Economics

Economic Theory presents the idea that if there are limited opportunities for a scarce product or resource the supplier can name the price.

Social Care doesn’t work like that. The local Authority sets the limits on what is paid for and the system then bids for the person. Have you ever been to a cattle market? Generally, it is the best value bid that wins but in the Social Care field we have the indignity of “how cheaply” can these services be provided?

Obviously, a flawed system because it attracts low quality services and keeps the CQC busy.

So, price comes before the person. How can this be acknowledge and adjustments made in a business to ensure service viability? 

The price pressure is known. The demand for person centred care is made clear and speed is critical. This structure of allows for innovation. The Care Provider in 2019 will have to change, so if that’s you drive the changes. 

We win contracts for Care providers, as part of the process we analyse as much of the business as a client wants us to see, however, the product of this process creates opportunities for innovation, collaboration and value for money improvements. Contact the Tender Management or Social Care links to find out more. 

The Social Care Provider

Is regulation and intimidation really the only solution? Should the sector let the CQC weed out poor providers and let the local authorities squeeze the prices as hard as they can? Who knows but it is clear that a Care provider can lead the way by demonstrating they are willing to blend their care package.

The ideal solution is the Care provider becomes the conduit to universal and bespoke support for the individual client. Rather than limiting the service this opens the opportunities for greater resource deployment. The notion that because a business is making a profit that it is unfit to provide care is bias. Social Care providers are a necessary product to meet the growth in an aging population. 

The accepted facts are that we will need more social care employees than teachers with an aging population.

Hourly rates rise due of labour costs and core business costs. To meet this progression the Care provider needs to increase the value for money.  This becomes an incentivised structure local funding bodies could pay rates linked to value for money and access to additional resources.

In Conclusion

The solution, be a gateway to extended services! Care needs to embrace change that includes the NHS

Employ an innovative approach to accessing more support for the client, develop a wider network in your local community.

Factoring and Tenders

Factoring affects the financial credibility of a small business.

What is Factoring?

Investopedia describes Factoring as:

What is a ‘Factor’

A factor is a financial intermediary that purchases receivables from a company. A factor is essentially a funding source that agrees to pay the company the value of the invoice less a discount for commission and fees. The factor advances most of the invoiced amount to the company immediately and the balance upon receipt of funds from the invoiced party.

Read more: Factor

Harsh measure
                    How it works

Businesses that need to resort to Factoring Agents immediately inform the buyer that cashflow is an issue. Isn’t it confidential? No! When a business collaborates with an agency the paperwork includes a “charge” against the business. So the first credit check or compliance audit shows the priority charge against the business.

Money for Invoices

Sounds great on the face of it. The Factoring Agent rates of payment of your invoice then the balance less fees when the account is settled, it can’t be a bad thing, can it?

Factoring as a first stop demonstrates a lack of confidence in customer relationships or satisfaction, it is also evidence of poor risk management, because too few Small Businesses understand how their marketplace works, they arrive with the invoice, its part paid but what impact does this have on the longterm cashflow?

I have an example for you to ponder on.

A Home Care Support provider has a contract for 300 hours a week. Great news!

The terms are non-negotiable; payment within 14 days of invoice – subject to authorisation and satisfaction.

To win the contract they looked at the competition, the common pricing structure and decided to undercut the hour rate by 10%.

They have the staff, care package and the start date.

Knowing the cost of an overdraft the decision to factor seems reasonable.

Invoice for 1st weeks hours is sent in knowing it will be paid in 14 days subject to satisfactory terms met; so they factor the invoice and receive 75% of the value immediately. They repeat this every week for 6 weeks. What is the cumilative impact on the business? Great they can pay staff wages but suddenly they are aware that the balance is critical and they are under pressure to meet increasing demands.

What if one invoice is challenged? How does that impact on the business?

Its not all negative, businesses survive and come through this but there is a valuable lesson in this for all business owners.

Playing catch-up on cashflow as a new business is a struggle because the gap is always widening is an unnecessary burden, Plan Strategically and work into the contract, no one wants to see the business struggle, so work with the goodwill.

Is Factoring wrong?  

Not at all but for a new start up with a limited customer base it is very dangerous. A single disputed invoice can break the bank.

Understanding the risk should create an awareness to exhaust all the other solutions.

The primary way to avoid the issue in the first place remains know the real costs of your operational activity, breakeven point, profit and investment calculations before you take on a contract, then  you know the impact of undercutting that price.

In the case to ponder above after three months a business was already losing 7%, it stripped out the profit, the Directors could not pay themselves, ending with another charge on the business for a mortgage..

1st Principle of Bidding

Understand how much you can afford to charge and what that unit cost or hourly rate covers.

Working with KKS Management clients we calculate three figures:

  1. The minimum you can afford to charge
  2. The clear contingency and reinvestment sum
  3. A real profit margin

Winning new business is difficult, invest well in the process and understand the financial needs of your business and factoring becomes a measured response to slow paying loyal clients that you can afford to carry.Essential Tender Quality mark

Grow carefully and sustainably! Looking to grab loads contracts at the lowest price is an unsustainable approach. Competitive Tendering requires more investment, knowledge and planning, this is the primary investment strategy every business needs.

Anyone can set up in Business but not everyone can make a success of it. Improve your odds by getting sound advice

Strategic Planning

The importance of strategic planning in small and medium sized businesses  is easily overlooked. The business owner or senior manager that fails to plan strategically is creating a recipe that inevitably leaves the business on the back foot. 

Plan the route to success.

Developing Strategically

Creating Success

“My target is to run faster than anyone has ever run before!” a simple statement, or how about “I want to own the best car sales business around”. Two great statements but they have one thing in common – both require and reality check.

Personally I’m 60 years old, overweight and have coronary problems – I couldn’t achieve the first but physically it is now impossible. Nor could I achieve the second because I have no interest in cars and my enthusiasm would soon wain. Is that what I mean by a reality check?

No. To achieve anything worthwhile, we all need a clear plan.

The “reality check” is the planning process. We have to ask the right questions and respond with honest answers.

When Usain Bolt decided he wanted to run faster than anyone before him he knew this, the same with every highly successful business. Many successful business owners don’t realise they have a plan but they implement the key components.

To be successful in business requires that we understand the importance of maximising the skills, talents and resources we have.

A clear overview of what you want to achieve and how you are going to achieve it is a basic form of strategic development.

A Strategy requires a Target outcome!

So, strategy creation follows a five-stage process:

  1. Analysis
  2. Opportunities and options
  3. Bench Test
  4. Evaluating 
  5. Selection and progress review

Many have heard of TOWS, SWOT, PEST, PESTO but experience demonstrates that you have all the tools and put them to use, however, it is critical that these are applied with a strong dose of realism.

Strategic Analysis

“Know thyself” is often thought to be the basis of this but again knowing your business isn’t enough, we must position the business. One tool seldom used now is analysis of local market share. If no one is buying locally why will that change if you suddenly decide to become international?

Leadership Capacity

The critical question must be am I skilled enough to create business growth? “I started the business – so of course I am” is a poor starting. Learning in business is the key to strategic and operational growth. Therefore, my next question is “what new skills have I gained and what skills do I need?”

Recently I was asked to calculate the hourly rate for company looking to grow. Straightforward enough but how had they set the figure before? Asked around to see what competitors were charging and priced themselves £2 an hour lower. This was ridiculous!

Isolate the capacity you require, either learn the skills or buy them in at a fixed price. Never fall prey to an open-ended consultancy, create a project based approach.

Business Capability and Capacity

We can all review our resources, liabilities, capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses.

Explore the Core Competencies of key members of your team. It could be time to part company with some of the management team or staff. If you are buying in skills from consultants that senior staff should have then be honest with. Train them or replace them.

Understanding and working with the unique strengths of the business enables the team to consolidate, focus and develop.

This analysis can lead to painful outcomes but remember your teenage years – growing is painful. The greatest asset and liability of any business is the people who work in it and yet they remain critical when setting yourself apart from your competitors.

Once you have an understanding of your own capacity, capabilities and a realistic target for the business systems then apply the same rigorous approach to:

  • The business environment
  • the marketplace
  • existing customers
  • Target customers
  • competitors
  • direction

Introduce Strategic Planning 

                                                                                                                                  

I was always taught that plagiarism is a fools game in the education sector because if I found something of interest on a subject the likelihood is that my tutors will have already used it. So I am going to credit every other blog and newsletter writer I have ever read because I know that many of my ideas and comments are not unique, however, they do reflect those who influenced my business development approach. 

 

2019 Tender Writing

2019 the year of growth for small businesses.

Reshaping the trading arrangements for large international companies is going to be painful, especially for the Public Sector.

Challenge

The challenges include understanding the private sector, having been used to large multinationals controlled by EU Regulation. The new marketplace is an opportunity for local business owners to take back the contracts lost to EU based companies.

Winning business from a risk averse public sector requires strategic planning and development. Answer questions before the buyer realises what they should be asking.

Fear

The biggest fear is a skills drain, explain how your company is going to fill the gaps. Why your structure provides the openness and accountability required because you’re based in the local community.

2019 is a year of opportunity, more markets because the UK is a net importer therefore, the priority is replace the imported products and services. For example: retro fitting dual fuel (hybrid technology) reduces the need for improting vehicles. It costs less than buying new and offers the UK an innovation niche.

The application of technology is simple, cost of production lower than most engineering companies realise and the market is massive.

Politics doesn’t drive business interest or the marketplace unless business allow that to happen.

Options and Opportunities

Before investment and funding businesses need to have a clear plan, effective systems and baggage free market conditions. The Business Consultancy Network portal creates those bespoke solutions for companies looking forward to growth and expansion.

We focus on the needs of the small business, creating a competitive profile and developing simple win strategies that demonstrate the flexibility and cost effectiveness of the UK Small Business owners.

Contact us for early booking details and looking forward to seeing you there.

Exo-economics – the bigger picture

Exo-economics is the study of external pressures on the trading economics.

Development of the study of exo-economics is interesting. It focuses on the social, financial and political pressures that can be applied to a macro economy. However, the Internal and external pressures either stimulate enterprise or undermine it. 

Exo-economics – Manufacturing

The 20th century drift of manufacturing to South East Asia could be repeated by the faster developing nations in Africa and South America if only they weren’t fighting amongst themselves.

The key is a low economy, access to raw materials and 21st century infrastructure.

Fortunately for China, the USA and other manufacturing major players this current situation is going to extend for at least 50 years.

The impact on UK Manufacturing and EU companies is beginning to really bite. India is the service industry fast growth, China remains as the leader in manufacturing and we now need to look at where the science base is developing.

The global economy render many EU countries as the has beens.

Critical balance approach 

The Critical Balance point in any economy has to be linked with the spending power of the individual however it can include micro investment.

Arrest the trend of the globalisation of manufacturing in three ways:

  • Exclusivity
  • Quality
  • Innovation

At a micro economic level. “It may cost more but by spending my money on this I can see the added value” is a fantastic sound. Especially when a consumer is committed to buying.

Loyalty

Add loyalty to this group of three. Consequently this creates a mutual benefit.

Loyalty earns trust! Trust causes the consumer to spend! Spending keeps the business wheels turning.

Localism

National interests are fine but local interests are more important. Invest in local skills. Developing infrastructure and technology causes the economic growth. However buying imported materials stiffles growth leaving nothing.

Debt Free economics

The economy operating across Europe and USA is debt fuelled.

Governments work on the principle of manageable debt. Therefore,  consumers are encouraged to do the same.

If 80% of what I earn is paying off debt and the 20% remaining I live on then as earning falls or income ends the short term outcome is catastrophic.

Therefore, logical conclusion flip it around 80% living income and 20% variable levels of debt.

Better still, the debt free economy, spend what we have now.

Exo-economics – apply pressure from within

Therefore, look positively at the global market and take back the the local consumer.

Consequently, Change attitudes!

Adjust individual buying patterns!

Create positive economic foundations

Use clear strong language, dynamic marketing and be positive.

Conclude now that Economic Innovation requires person centred products.

 

Credit Ratings are important

Credit Ratings cause small businesses problems.

A poor credit rating is simply resolved! However, it is commonly ignored.

The solution? Action!

Credit Ratings

Act immediately! The credit rating is calculated using information your business has provided. Update information!

Three simple steps:

  1. Check the credit rating
  2. Examine the information
  3. Act – improve the information

Offer information!

Business credit ratings use reported performance.  The annual return to Companies House. All of that information is out of date!

For example if you have been approved for a business start up loan the information may take 12 months to appear in published accounts.

Those using micro accounts aren’t required to provide key financial data and therefore, the credit rating company is limited.

Offer information about the financial stability. This is the difference between high risk and acceptable risk for buyers.

Credit Ratings Matter

Credit Ratings are a reference point. Take control and act to reduce high risk rating.

Poor credit scores create business pressure. A limited cashflow reduces investment potential, therefore restricts growth. Thus creating difficult business relationships.

Consequently,  your credit rating matters.

Improve the credit rating!

  • Work with your bookkeeper or your accountant.
  • Keep accounts up to date
  • report quarterly and
  • celebrate success

Use a credit rating company to check your customers.

Improve your ratings, improve the visibility of your business.

Contact Us

Our new clients begin with a business health check.

The approach:

  • Build on the healthy parts
  • Act on areas for development
  • Gain confidence through process

This competitive approach to business development empowers owners and management teams. Move forwards with purpose and strategic direction.

Our services include:

  • Strategic planning
  • Change management
  • Sales and Market development
  • Business writing
  • Competitive tender management
  • Business development training

Inspiration, innovation, enthusiasm and the competitive skills create a fast paced action plan for business owners and their teams.

Contact information