Posts Tagged ‘procurement’

5 Tips on How to Market to Government Agencies

March 7, 2011

Many businesses have lost their private sector work. Businesses with any relation to real estate were hit hard by the recession. These businesses include real estate brokers and agents, construction concerns, interior designs, architects, land surveyors, civil engineers, and building permit expeditors. I went to a doctor visit and my doctor was hit hard too. When her clients got laid off, they no longer had health insurance. A lot of my colleagues in the insurance industry were hit hard too because insurance was dropped by many as they trimmed their budgets. Therefore, going after government work may be the only viable option to survive this down economy.

My business Lemongrass Consulting helped with zoning applications, community outreach, and permitting large commercial private sector building developments. We were hit hard in 2008 and shifted gears in 2009. I turned to teaching business law and contracting. I re-engineered and turned my firm toward offering customized, affordable strategic plans to small businesses. I now teach government contracting for the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC).

Here are five (5) tips for going after government sector work:

1. Develop a strategy – Based on work you enjoyed doing in the past, figure out the type of work you want to do and with what government agencies. You do not want to shot gun your approach and bid on anything that comes your way. You want to be credible. You want to do work that you will likely deliver on time and within budget because you love what you are doing. Given your past work experiences in product sales or service offerings, figure out which agencies buy what you sell. Also, make the agencies that have a nexus to your background a priority.

For example, if you served in the military, then military bases should be a priority if they buy what you sell. My background is in planning – urban, transportation, community outreach, strategic planning. So, government agencies with planning departments are ideal. With respect to transportation, more specifically, agencies in the transportation horizontal construction of road and bridge work are ideal.

Your strategic plan can be as simple as a list of government agencies to target. Start close to home and branch out – your city, county, state agencies, and federal agencies. Target about 5 agencies at first and then branch out.

2. Aggressively go after work – Armed with your strategic list of government agencies to target, look for bid opportunities and forecasts of purchases that they intend to buy. If you do not bid on work, you will never win a government contract. You must be appropriately aggressive in going after government work. You have to read bid solicitations and follow through by preparing bids for submittal. You also need not wait until a bid opportunity is advertised. Drill down through each target agency and figure out what type of work you want to help them with or which products you sell that they will likely buy. Then offer those products and services to the agencies. Send them print materials and emails and make offers.

3. Build relationships – This is the most important part of government contracting. It is all about people. Once you stop focusing on contracts and dollars coming in, and begin to see contracting officials people with real world people needs, then you can build the kind of relationships you need to have to do well in government contracting. Just like you, each contracting official has a name, maybe a family, they have a past, and they have future aspirations. Get to know them. Ask for face to face appointments or conference calls and chat. One of my mentors told me that I needed to learn how to hang out. He hangs out and network at trade functions, on the golf course, and at parties. You have to make time to build a network of people you can count on for leads and assistance.

4. Follow up – As you build relationships with government officials, follow through on any leads they give you. They may tell you to talk with a prime that already has a contract with them. Perhaps this will lead to subcontracting work for you. They may tell you which end users to meet – e.g. department heads or project managers. You need to make sure you are reaching decision makers. For services, find out how vendor selections are made and who have typically sat on selection committees. For products, you want to get to know the contracting officials, the purchase card holders, and the end users with budget. These are individuals that you need to get to know.

5. Show appreciation – Whenever someone helps you, be sure to thank them. Be careful about gift giving to make sure you do not break any rules.

Speaking of rules, you need to study the rules of the game of government contracting. You cannot play a game when you do not know the rules. So, you should be sure to take government contracting classes to learn more about vendor registrations, certifications for set aside work, and other topics.

By Clovia Hamilton, President, Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.
Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with 25 years of government work experience and serves as a procurement counselor in the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC). Lemongrass Consulting provides strategic planning solutions including government contracting strategic marketing plans. Contact Clovia at http://tinyurl.com/32cqcj9 or follow Clovia on Twitter @lemongrassplans

Government vs. Corporate Contracting

June 28, 2010

In this economy, businesses need not put all of their eggs in one basket.  They should seek public government contracts and private deals.  There are set asides in government contracts for small businesses, woman owned businesses, veteran owned businesses, and minority owned socially and economically disadvantaged businesses.  In order to be eligible, these businesses have to get registered and certified.  Businesses that do not meet these categories can team with businesses that do in order to take advantage of set asides.

I worked in government for more than 25 years and began the business development journey in 2005.  I have met thousands of business owners.  One topic that seems to confuse some business owners is whether their government business registrations and certifications can be used in corporate contracting.  Well, no.  Corporations have supplier diversity programs and look for Women Business Enterprise (WBE) and Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certifications which differ from those in federal, state, county and city programs.

Government Contracting

Federal Contracting – No cost to get started!

Step 1) If 51% woman owned, begin to use Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB) and Small Business (SB) designations for marketing purposes. Put on your website, business cards, brochures, etc now!
 These merely require self-certification.
 A goal of setting aside 5% of government contracts to WOSB is underway.
 There are bid opportunities currently being set aside for SB’s.
 Check your small business status with the Small Business Administration using your North American Industry Classification System (NAICs) codes, annual receipts, and number of employees. Visit:
http://www.sba.gov/contractingopportunities/officials/size/index.html
 Determine your NAICs codes at : http://www.naics.com/search.htm
 Military agencies use Federal Supplier Codes (FSC) and Product Service Codes (PSCs). Determine your FSCs and PSCs at: http://www.outreachsystems.com/resources/tables/pscs/
Step 2) Complete the
Central Contractor’s Registration (CCR) at https://www.bpn.gov/ccr/default.aspx
Step 3) Be sure to complete the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Dynamic Small Business Registration
 You will be prompted to enter this registration process at the conclusion of completing the CCR registration.
Step 4) Consider the SBA 8a certification program.
 But, bare in mind that few WOSB owned by Caucasians get certified.
 You must prove both a social and an economical disadvantage.
 Certain races are presumed to be socially disadvantaged (Black American, Native American, Hispanic American, Asian Pacific American, Subcontinent Asian American).
 Must be in business for 2 years
 The net worth of the individual claiming disadvantage must be less than $250,000.
Step 5) Consider getting prequalified with the General Service Administration (GSA) by submitting a GSA schedule contract proposal to the GSA for the products and services that you sell.

Step 6) Check if your business is located in a Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) zone.
 Visit http://map.sba.gov/hubzone/init.asp#address to find out if you are in a hub zone.
 If so, apply for HUB Zone certification and be eligible for Hubzone set-asides
Step 7) If your business is 51% owned by a veteran or service disabled veteran, you may be eligible for Veteran Owned Small Business (VOSB) or Service Disable Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) certification.
o Visit http://www.va.gov/vetbiz/index.htm
o Self Certify or get Verified (preferred)
State Contracting
Note: There are no set asides in Georgia other than the US Department of Transportation federal Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program with the Georgia Department of Transportation and MARTA

Step 1) States use the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP) product and service codes. Determine your NIGP codes at:
http://doas.ga.gov/statelocal/spd/procurement/pages/home.aspx

Step 2) Complete vendor registration applications for any city and county that you want to do business in. In Georgia, it is the Team Georgia Marketplace registration:
https://saofn.state.ga.us/psp/sao/SUPPLIER/ERP/h/?tab=DEFAULT

Local Government Contracting (Counties, Cities)
Step 1) Complete vendor registration applications for any city and county that you want to do business in.
Step 2) Complete small business certification applications for any city and county that you want to do business in. The designations are Small Business Enterprise (SBE), Female Business Enterprise (FBE), Woman Business Enterprise (WBE), or Minority Business Enterprise (MBE). In Georgia, there are programs at:
 City of Atlanta
 Atlanta Public Schools
 City of Roswell
 City of Savannah
 City of Augusta
 Fulton County
 DeKalb County
 Cobb County

Corporate Contracting

Corporate Certifications – Fee based

Step 1) If 51% woman owned, submit a Woman Business Enterprise (WBE) application with the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)
 Visit http://www.wbenc.org
 The application fee is $350
 They will conduct a site visit
 It typically takes 30-90 days
Step 2) If 51% minority owned, submit a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) application with the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) at a state chapter of your choice.
 The application fee is $500 in Georgia (GMSDC)
 They will conduct a site visit
 It typically takes 30-90 days

I urge businesses to get a Strategic Marketing Plan to determine which agencies buy what they sell; which certifications and registrations to pursue; and to find teaming partners.

Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with 25 years of government work experience and serves as a procurement counselor in the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC). Lemongrass Consulting provides strategic planning solutions including government contracting strategic marketing plans. Visit us at: http://www.lemongrassplanning.com – Follow Clovia on Twitter @lemongrassplans and LIKE Lemongrass on Facebook at http://tinyurl.com/6cuu28o