PQQ and tender writing can be both complex and time consuming but the rewards, can be very high.
Typical tenders for gas servicing or gas installations run for three to five years, meaning that if you do win the contract your business is assured of a monthly recurring income in the medium to long term.
Obviously, there is no easy way to win these types of contract because the competition is fierce and the quality level of responses needs to be very high. Before coming to us one of our clients failed a PQQ at which they scored 91%. This was simply because five other gas servicing companies had scored higher – they missed out by one point!
Gaining the points and making sure you are invited to the tender stage is relatively straightforward. The questions tend to be very prescriptive and more or less the same whether you are bidding into Portsmouth or Dundee. I have listed some common themes below and provided some ideas on how each section should be approached.
Hopefully this will increase your success rate but don’t forget, the real skill is in contextualising your response, providing hard evidence and matching your service offering to that of the specification. Too many firms make the mistake of repeatedly pasting in the same responses without addressing the sometimes subtle nuances within the contract. Doing this may only reduce your overall score by a point or two, but it can make all the difference between success and failure. Unlike many competitions, there are no rewards for second place when writing a tender. You must win or the whole process is wasted. Not only is this costly in terms of finances and time invested, but it can significantly hurt the morale of the business.
The most common themes are:
Training and competency: the evaluator needs to have assurance that your staff, and where applicable any sub-contractors, are trained, skilled and competent to undertake the work. It is not sufficient to state that all staff are trained to a certain level; rather you must clearly demonstrate the full range of skills and competencies of your staff, including total numbers of staff within the business. This can be achieved via a simple table or matrix, but it must include how you monitor the expiry dates of certifications, how you supply ongoing training and your internal quality assurance mechanisms for making sure your engineers are providing high quality services on every job.
Resident or tenant liaison: this is a common theme in many PQQs and all gas servicing tenders will include some element of customer care, even if simply asking how you deal with vulnerable residents. Appointments, complaints and out of hours emergencies will all need to be dealt with, and this section can really gain you extra points over your competition. Make sure you convey how you treat all residents with respect and how you personalise your approach according to each resident’s individual circumstances. For example, liaising with an elderly lady with dementia will be very different from dealing with a resident known for violence and drug use.
Complaints and procedures: this question crops up time and time again when writing a tender. The key to gaining full marks is having a clearly defined and identifiable structure with time frames. If you do not include your time frames your PQQ or tender will not score maximum marks. Plus, remember that your clients may require that their complaints are handled in a different way.
Right first time and no access: no gas servicing tender or PQQ would be complete without this. No access is a huge problem for Councils and Housing Associations. Residents are notoriously difficult to pin down to a specific time and even then there is no guarantee they will be in. Other residents are deliberately obstructive and do not want to provide access to the property and some residents have awkward shift patterns, do not speak or read English or have learning difficulties. Your no access and appointment systems need to take cognisance of this. These procedures link to your right first time approach because if access is problematic, imagine how difficult it becomes to gain access a second time because you failed to undertake the work correctly the first time!
Anniversary dates and planning: I can guarantee that planning and processing of CP12s and anniversary dates will form part of your PQQ or tender, perhaps even both. Either way, you should write a response that provides assurances that you can overcome any no access or business continuity issues and that your IT systems are capable of migrating data from the existing system. Immediate processing of CP12s in real time is the norm now as it speeds the process up and provides instant reporting. Manual systems are not looked on favourably so it may be time to throw out the fax too!
Communication and reporting: linked to planning and CP12s, you must have a robust and real time reporting system in place. The client will expect some form of real time reporting which is usually via direct access. Whilst it is not a pre-requisite to winning, a real time reporting tool has obvious advantages to the client, even if it is “read only” access. Dedicated e-mails and telephone lines are the norm and won’t gain extra marks but should be included anyway, as should your KPI reporting tool. Your PQQ or tender submission should also include details of how you will communicate with residents, leaseholders and the general public.
Regardless of the questions within the PQQ or Tender you must provide detail and evidence. Try to avoid making grand and unsubstantiated statements; instead use statistics and case studies wherever you can and never criticise your competitors.