UK Civil Engineering
Posted By Kittle Associates Ltd on 29/12/2017

Finding the Right Tender

Finding the Right Tender

We are sometimes asked by new and prospective clients if we can find contracts that are right for them. At a time of political and economic uncertainty, public contracting can offer good stability, experience and opportunities for future growth. In this short article, we consider how best to find the right contract for your business and where to get further help and advice.

Support for SMEs

The UK Government spends £240 billion each year on contractors. At the same time, it has a commitment to spend £1 in every £3 of its contracting budgets with Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) by 2020. That’s £80 billion per annum! This figure does not include any of the 1,600 other public bodies such as Local Authorities, who have to tender contracts in a fair and equitable manner by following the Public Contracts Regulations. Given this background, there has never been a better time for SMEs to bid for public sector work.

But how do you go about finding the right contract for you?

Be Realistic

Having vision, ambition and aspiration are all excellent attributes in business. At the same time, knowing your limitations and understanding that public sector organisations are naturally risk adverse, is equally important. Therefore be realistic about what you can win by looking for contracts that are marked as being suitable for SMEs, for which you have extensive experience and where the expected contract value is not more than about 50% of your current turnover. Start small, deliver the contract well, and build your experience and reputation.

Play to Your Strengths

Any public sector bid will have a series of questions about past experience and the way you propose to run the service. Look therefore for questions that play to your strengths, where you have good evidence and a sound track record. If there are some elements of the contract for which you have little experience, consider sub-contracting with someone who does. If you really do not have the right level of experience, then move on and look for another more suitable contract.


Frameworks are used by public bodies where they want to appoint more than one supplier to contracts. For example, a council may want to appoint a number of different building contractors to a framework to repair roads in its area. Each project is then either awarded directly to a supplier on the framework or the council runs mini-competitions between them.

Frameworks do not normally offer guaranteed volumes of work. However, your chances of winning work is significantly increased as only a finite number of suppliers will be on the framework. At the same time, you are not obliged to accept work if you do not have the capacity or feel the contract is not right for you.

Frameworks can therefore be beneficial for smaller companies as they provide a good opportunity to grow at a pace that is right for you, and to gain relevant experience with a realistic chance of winning business.

 Prepare Well

Good preparation is absolutely critical to winning any bid. Do your homework therefore in advance, thinking about the types of contract you want to bid for, prospective clients, their priorities, and evidence you will need to present. Prepare case studies about current and previous contracts, gather statistics that show how well you can deliver, and think about what your unique selling points are and how your service will benefit clients. Engage a bid consultant to help you prepare if you are unsure.

 Where to Look

Any public contract valued at around £110,000 or more must be advertised openly to give eligible companies the chance to tender. Contracts are advertised on websites like the Official Journal of the European Union, the Cabinet Office’s Contracts Finder as well as other public portals operated by Local Authorities, the NHS or Universities.

You can access these websites free of charge or you can subscribe (normally for a large fee!) to websites that consolidate information and email you alerts.

As an alternative, Kittle Associates offer a Contract Finder service, where our researchers monitor portals and alert clients where a contract is advertised that provides a good match. This service has a one-off set-up fee of £145 followed by a monthly payment of just £35 (plus VAT). Engaging a service like Contract Finder is not only affordable but it takes away the stress of assessing opportunities and whether they are right for you.

Get Advice

If you are new to public sector contracting, get advice about how to approach bidding and to prepare well. At Kittle Associates, we provide initial advice free of charge to clients looking at particular contracts. As our reputation is built on winning bids, you can have confidence we will provide objective advice and only recommend bidding where our experience suggests you have a reasonable chance of winning. While we can never guarantee a win – no bid writing company can do that – our advice will help you make the right investment choices for your business.

More Information

For more information about how to find the right contract and prepare winning tenders, give Sam Nimmo a call today on 01491 902021 for a no obligation chat. Alternatively, send us an email to or complete the enquiries form on our website.

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