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Article Details

Published Date: 10-02-2015
Author: Executive Compass
Category: Tender Writing & Bid Management
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One of the questions that we are most commonly asked by prospective clients is “how much does a tender cost?” Although the question seems a relatively straightforward and simple one, the answer is a little more complex.

Common Questions

“Do you have a fixed price?” There is no such thing as an ‘average’ tender. Every tender that we work on is different, asking varying questions and looking for different depth or complexity in the responses. Trying to determine a fixed cost would be like trying to answer “how long is a piece of string?”

“If the PQQ cost that much, then shouldn’t the tender cost this much?” We frequently support clients throughout the whole bidding process, often starting before notices are even issued and continuing until contract award. After we have supported clients to progress to the tender stage, they sometimes assume that the price for tender writing will reflect the price paid for the PQQ.

This is not the case. In industries such as construction, we often find that a challenging PQQ leads to a relatively basic tender. Conversely, PQQs for education and health and social care are sometimes much less challenging than the associated tender. Overall, the cost of the PQQ is not the best indicator of how much a tender costs.

“It’s a low value contract – surely the tender should be low cost too.” We have seen tenders for contracts worth £100,000 asking for over 15,000 words of narrative. At the other end of the scale, we have completed tenders for contracts worth several million pounds which requested only 4,000 words. Although there is some correlation between contract value and the scope of the tender, it is not a hard-and-fast rule.

How Does it Actually Work?

In reality, the cost of tender writing support is tailored to your specific needs and the challenges of the individual tender. There are many factors at play. First and foremost, the price reflects the sheer volume of narrative required. Clients routinely ask for help with 1,000 word responses that they find particularly challenging; in contrast, we have successfully worked on tenders requiring over 250,000 words. The scope of narrative is a major driving force in determining a price.

In addition to this, we consider specific challenges. How is the questionnaire structured? Would the client like us to undertake extensive independent research? Crucially, have we worked together before? By forming long-term relationships with our clients, we are able to create detailed Bid Libraries that help us push down the cost of each tender that we work on together.

Cost of Losing a Tender

The most important factor that a lot of businesses overlook is the distinction between producing a losing tender and a winning tender. The time and resources committed to the completion of a tender carry a direct cost. Additionally, there is an opportunity cost; the time that the Bid Team spent working on the submission could have been spent working on the day-to-day business or completing a different bid.

Completing a winning tender may be more costly in direct terms. Additional time will need to be devoted to the bid to ensure that it is coherent, well thought out and presented in a way that paints your organisation in a positive light. Alternatively, you may turn to expert bid and tender writing consultants such as Executive Compass® to obtain professional help.

This additional effort and cost pays a dividend when you are awarded the contract. Compare this to the cost of writing a losing tender. You may save some money by rushing through certain elements, recycling dated material from previous bids and taking a relaxed approach to presentation. However, the time that you do invest is ultimately wasted.

The better approach is clearly to decide from the offset if you are willing and able to approach the tender with a true desire to win. You do not want your time, money and efforts to go to waste. If a contract is worth bidding for, it should be worth taking seriously – either through devoting more resources internally, or through asking professional bid writers for support.

If you would like to speak to somebody about how we can support you with a tender submission, contact us on 0800 612 5563 and we would be happy to provide a price.

For more information on the contract and tender process you can watch this video below:

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