Price, availability, and delivery terms are usually the key factors on whether a company is awarded a tender (or not) but many firms shy away from applying because of lengthy form-filling, fees, and a fear of being rejected after putting in a lot of time and effort. Get it right, however, and your company could rise through the ranks by raking in big projects and big money.
Check out our guide on where to find tenders, our top 10 list of construction tenders up for grabs, free courses on writing tender bids and common mistakes made when writing tender bids…and that’s not all! We’ve also prepared a sample tender letter to give you a little taster of what’s involved in the initial stages of the process.
According to Supply to Gov, now is a great time to start winning construction tenders due to the UK Government working to meet its pledge of awarding 33% of public sector contracts (by value) to SMEs by 2020.
Neil Edwards, Chief Executive Officer of Builders’ Conference, said:
“In total, 16 individual companies won new contract awards worth in excess of £100 million in March 2019. Housing was the largest market sector, delivering more than £1.84 billion in new contract awards. However, thanks to the Euston super-station, railways came in a close second with £1.3 billion of new work. The education sector also reported 130 new contract awards valued at almost £1.11 billion.
Regionally, London retained its position at the top of the heap with 123 new contract awards valued at more than £2.5 billion. The North West region experienced a sharp upswing in April, recording 60 new contract awards worth a combined £600 million.
At the time of writing, Brexit hangs in the balance and economic uncertainty remains the order of the day in just about every market sector other than construction. But with two consecutive months characterised by huge demand and with a healthy-looking forward tender book, construction currently shows no signs of acting as any kind of barometer. In fact, the sector is looking increasingly like a rebel with a cause.”
There are plenty of online companies out there who provide lists of the most recent tenders up for grabs all around Britain and they’ll ping you an alert once you sign up with them. Many charge a subscription fee, however, so do some research on the best sites for you.
“Searching for tender opportunities can be both time consuming and expensive but if approached in the correct manner they can help generate much needed new business. At this moment in time, the UK construction sector is proving to be buoyant and we expect to see growth in this industry continue,” said Debbie Mackenzie, General Manager at Proactis.
The Construction Index
The Construction Index Tender Service is updated five times a week and offers a full list of UK tenders as well as new business opportunities throughout Britain.
This government portal allows you to search for information on contracts worth over £10,000 with the government and its agencies.
E-Tenders Northern Ireland
This information area helps executives across the Northern Ireland public sector deliver successful projects.
The basic construction tender process involves the following activities according to Smartsheet.
· Bid Solicitation: The owner seeks bids and provides a package of material with drawings, specifications, and other scope documents. This is also known as making a request for proposal (RFP) or a request to tender (RTT).
· Subcontracting: General contractors take bids from subcontractors for pieces of work. Depending on the project method, this may occur after a general contractor wins a bid.
· Bid Submission: Builders submit bids by a deadline.
· Bid Selection: The owner reviews bids and chooses a winner.
· Contract Formation: This phase finalises the terms and lays the legal groundwork for the project.
· Project Delivery: Construction takes place.
Tenders Direct – NHS Scotland construction framework agreement worth £650 million (open to all health sector buyers in Scotland)
Tenders Direct – Dynamic Purchasing System for professional services worth £2 billion. Suppliers can gain a place anytime within its duration and is open for use by numerous UK public sector buyers.
Tenders Direct – Prior information notice for an education sector construction framework worth £500 million (contract notice to come later, open to all UK public sector buyers):
Sell 2 Wales – Building Framework for Coleg, Gwent
Sell 2 Wales – Construction in Cromarty firth
Construction Index – Devon County Council
Sell 2 Wales – Construction in Gwynedd
Construction Index – Bolton At Home
Sell 2 Wales – Arts Council of Wales
Construction Index – Hampshire
If the tender process activities above are giving you grief before you get started, you may want to consider enrolling on a bid writing training course. The bid writing experts out there can help elevate your bid writing skills (as well as your confidence) to the next level. Here’s our list of bid writing courses around the UK.
Business Wales offers free bid writing courses all over Wales
Tendervle provides on-going support for SMEs and blue-chip companies across the UK
Tenders Direct can offer full-day training courses to monthly webinars, Tenders Direct provide training and consultancy advice enabling you to get it right first time
Thornton & Lowe offer bid training courses across the UK
Reed can provide you with bid and tender writing courses which are CPD accredited which may be worth your while if you plan on submitting bids for several contracts
According to Designing Buildings, there are common mistakes in creating tender bids that you need to avoid at all costs.
Incorrect formatting – There are different types of forms for different types of tenders and each require specific documents.
Missing information – If there are questions left unanswered this could result in your application being rejected or penalised.
Not visiting the site – If you haven’t visited the site, how do you know what the client requires, the conditions of the site, and how will you understand the project at hand? – Take a few hours out of your day and to go and take a look.
Inaccurate evaluations – Do you own your equipment or will you need to hire it? Apart from taking the costings into account you will need to ensure all equipment is in good working order.
Misunderstanding requirements – You need to prove that you understand the project and therefore the tender so make sure your tender is tailored correctly to the project at hand. Handing over a generic tender that could apply to any or every project/development probably won’t succeed.
Grammar – First impressions are everything and submitting a tender that is written in a shoddy way will probably be rejected.
Missing Deadlines – Take your time and meet the deadline and make sure you write in the third person and as a company not as an individual. Failure to do so is likely to result in disqualification.
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Disclaimer: The advice provided here are our own interpretations and opinions. We have tried to simplify the main points of construction tenders to create this guide. For more in-depth information on how Brexit may affect tenders in the UK please read the procurement thresholds 2018 document