Winning at Bidding

July 22, 2019

1. Research Previous Awards for Pricing Qualified Suppliers

Go back several years. This will give you an idea on where to bid and make sure you don’t leave any money on the table! This can give you a pretty good idea at where to price yourself to win this business. You don’t want to underbid in 2019 by coming in at $50,000, and you don’t want to overbid by coming in at $100,000.

For example, every two years, the City releases a bid for grounds keeping services. In 2013, the job was awarded for $60,000; in 2015, the job was awarded for $70,000 and in 2017, the job was awarded for $75,000.

2. Know Your Competition

While looking at bids, you’ll start to understand who is bidding on which jobs. The government agencies that post bids want more competition. Especially if your business is minority/woman/veteran owned.

3. Build Templates

By doing the research above, you will see what language has worked in the past. You can use this language to build a library that you can refer to often, which helps you save time (and money). Remember: there are 90,000+ different local governments, but they all basically need the same goods and services.

4. Only Bid on What You Can Deliver

Everyone has heard “you only get one chance to make a first impression.” The same is true for your business. Also: government buyers talk to each other.

5. Start Small

Focus on winning smaller jobs when you start out. This will teach you valuable lessons that will help you win bigger, more valuable jobs later, setting you up for success as you build your business. Consider working as a subcontractor for a General Contractor or another supplier in the beginning while you are learning the ropes.

6. Mix it Up

Federal, state, city, and even other contractors, as well as your own clients, are all potential places to get into government work.

7. Know the Rules

Really read and understand the bid, the process, and how to submit it. You don’t want to spend hours putting together the world’s greatest bid package, only to find out you didn’t submit it correctly, on time, to the right place or in the wrong file format!

8. Build on Your Successes 

Every bid you win helps you win the next bid. Think of the score sheet included in some RFP’s, where they will give you points based on your past experiences and other agencies you’ve worked with.

9. Look for Trigger Events 

Get a head start by looking ahead.

For example, if the City releases a bid for the architectural design of a new library, you can be sure that there will be bids coming for related products in the coming months to build out the library.

Another example: You are a lighting company, and instead of waiting to see which government agencies are looking to buy lightbulbs, look for agencies doing energy audits or assessments. This is usually a trigger for agencies to use the audit findings to bring their building up to current energy standards.

10. Be Patient

There is a beginning date, and an end date to bidding and winning government jobs. The process takes time.

About DemandStar

DemandStar builds communities by connecting governments quickly and efficiently with quality suppliers. Founded in 1998, we pioneered the online marketplace concept for bidding on government contracts and now serve as the gateway for partnership between agencies and suppliers throughout the United States. For more information visit or call 206.940.0305.


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