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How customers "reach' you should be a consideration sooner than later.

Posted By Guy Timberlake, The American Small Business Coalition, LLC, Thursday, March 14, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 14, 2013

If you knew an agency made purchases in a way that made it easier for you to do direct business with them, would it change your behavior? What if you learned it would be significantly more difficult if not outright impossible to get them to award you a piece of business?

Mind you, I'm not talking about the prolific contract vehicle such as the GSA Schedule, GWACs, Blanket Purchase Agreements or other methods that allow the government to stand up a contract and then issue business to it as it comes available. I mean actual bird-in-hand, go get to work now business!

Judging from the blank stares I get when I bring this up in group discussions, I assume some of you have no idea what I am talking about, do you?

Let's try this.

Believe it or not, there are times when government agencies have needs for goods or services where instead of creating a mechanism that is awarded to one or more companies that will last for one to five years and often has no guarantee of any dollars being issued against it, they simply buy stuff. What they purchase can be supplies or services, including construction and research and development that literally run the gamut from A to Z. While every agency has its own supplements that dictate what and how much can be purchased across the board, I am comfortable saying  at some point, every agency makes purchases not associated with an existing contract vehicle.

My point?

Every day I have conversations with companies who validate my belief that the first two things new companies hear when they enter this community have to do with acquiring a GSA Schedule and an 8(a) certification. While both represent discriminators that may or may not make meaningful contributions to a business' approach based on any number of factors, neither individually nor collectively will these cause the heavens to open up and shower you with business opportunities or actual business.

I apologize to everyone whose bubble I just burst.

While conventional wisdom dictates that many more awards are made to existing vehicles than not, the fact is during FY12, awards made to existing contracts were valued just over $266 billion while competitive and non-competitive buys made via purchase orders and definitive contracts exceeded $249 billion. For the current fiscal year, purchases against GSA Schedules, IDIQs, BPAs, BOAs, GWACs and the like, amount to just over $48 billion while buys made otherwise account for nearly $58 billion this fiscal year-to-date.

While this conversation does not touch on what is being purchased (more than one thousand NAICS Codes are represented either way) the fact is there are plenty of opportunities to uncover, whether your company has a contract vehicle, or not.

The key here is efficiency. Do the research ahead of time so that before you engage an agency for business opportunities, you know their tendencies for how they purchase what you sell.

To put it another way, know how a customer can 'reach' you when they are ready to make the buy.


The Chief Visionary

"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it."

Visibility and Opportunities for Growing Small Federal Contractors. SAP Task Force™.

Tags:  award type  BPA  BPA Call  definitive contract  delivery order  GWAC  IDV  idv type  purchase order 

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