Building Tenders for SMEs

Published12th November 2020 AuthorJohn Hudson

Building Tenders: How to Prepare and Win as an SME

Building tenders aren’t the most traditional route that SMEs take to grow their building businesses. Instead, tradesmen often rely heavily on their reputation, local community, and word of mouth. In fact, a Constructionline survey looked at how construction SMEs expected to grow their business. They found that 75% of respondents expected future opportunities to come from their business’ reputation for producing high-quality work.

If this sounds like you, we think you need to hear this: reputation won’t cut it! If you aren’t utilising building tenders, then you’re missing out on countless opportunities that could grow your SME, right now. Especially when it comes to larger projects or ongoing jobs.

Should I stick to small construction projects as an SME?

No – you’re not too small to pitch for larger jobs. There are big opportunities available for smaller businesses, especially when it comes to frameworks and ‘partnering up.’

In fact, the legal framework of public sector procurement actively encourages free and open competition and value for money. This means there will always be opportunities for businesses of all sizes. The UK government has a target to ensure the growth of SMEs, giving those smaller companies a fair chance at winning building tenders.

Public sector buyers will look for MEAT (The Most Economically Advantageous Tender), regardless of your size. And often, the personal touch of an SME is what clients are looking for. SMEs can specialise in ways that larger firms can’t while maintaining high levels of flexibility. Plenty of larger clients are seeking smaller contractors in their building tenders for these reasons.

Many public sector bodies appoint a framework of contractors to construct a package of projects. This is often on a Design & Build basis, and there will often be design repetition here. So, if your service makes a positive impression, it is likely to be used repeatedly. This is a great way to secure ongoing work for longer periods, often with numerous high-value contract lots.

Larger projects? Ongoing work? What are you waiting for!?

Too many SME’s aren’t utilising building tenders because they don’t understand the process, or don’t think it’s right for them. We’ll explain why that’s not true. Building tenders are absolutely the right route for small businesses in construction.

So, here’s how you can prepare for building tenders and succeed as an SME.

Preparing for building tenders

Preparation is the key to success when tendering for a construction contract in the UK. Once you’re prepared and have the correct information ready, completing your building tender will feel much more straightforward.

Let’s take a look at the common stages of a building tender, and how your SME can prepare for them.

A PAS 91 – What is it?

– The PAS 91 is simply a standardised Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) for construction bids. You must pass this in order for the rest of your tender to be considered. You must provide policies and answer questions regarding;

  1. Quality assurance;
  2. Health and safety;
  3. Environmental considerations;
  4. Equal opportunities & diversity and more.

– Good news – the PAS 91 is designed with SME’s in mind. It simplifies the tendering process in order to encourage more suppliers (particularly SMEs) to apply for work. Overall, it helps buyers identify suitably qualified contractors with less time and resources. It essentially ensures that suppliers fit the minimum standards of a job and helps buyers achieve more sustainable procurement.
– If you are a Constructionline member, you are automatically PAS 91 compliant for some questions, however, you may still need to complete a few sections.

How can I succeed as an SME?

– It helps to be prepared when completing a PAS 91. It’s important that you can attach relevant and up-to-date evidence and accreditations wherever you are prompted to do so. Make sure you have carefully constructed your policies and answers to the cover all the areas mentioned above. Having these common areas pre-prepared will save you a lot of time in the long run. In tender-writing, we call pre-prepared aspects of a tender “boilerplates”. For more information on the dos and don’ts of boilerplates, please watch our free masterclass on Tender VLE.

– When bidding for building tenders, in particular, you can assume that the buyer will always require certain information from you. Some preparation can therefore be done before you even find the building tender. For instance, how do you plan to minimise health and safety risks on the building site? This will always be an aspect of any building tender. Having a pre-prepared health and safety response will save you time. You can then focus this valuable time elsewhere in your building tender.

– However, be careful when it comes to creating boilerplates and copy and pasting content. There are areas where this won’t suffice, when the content must be up to date and purposeful. This is especially important now as your health and safety response, for instance, must consider the management of coronavirus. Government advice and regulations on coronavirus are continually changing and updating. You may need to continually adjust aspects of the build to ensure you comply with the most recent advice. For instance, managing staff schedules differently, or reducing delivery frequencies to the build site.

A method statement – What is it?

– This is where you explain and answer questions on how you plan to deliver your services. You must detail how you will meet the buyer’s requirements. Think of this as your chance to sell your services in the best light possible. It’s a detailed section of the tender: you need to consider every aspect of the job and how you fit the bill.

– As part of these method statements, you may need to submit supporting documentation, such as policies, procedures, and accreditations. You may also need to provide the qualifications and certifications of your staff to prove their competency.

How can I succeed as an SME?

– You should not make false claims in your method statements. Some or all of the content could become legally binding once you win the contract, so it’s important to be honest and realistic. So, how can you prove your value as an SME when you’re up against boastful statistics from larger companies?

– This is where a good reputation can come into play. Do you have all the relevant TrustMarks for your trade? Showing the buyer that you adhere to government standards can bolster your building tender and prove your reliability.

– Branding is another way in which you can utilise your reputation as an SME. Watch our free masterclass on branding on Tender VLE and make sure you’re presenting your business effectively.

A pricing schedule – What is it?

– You will have to complete a pricing schedule as part of your tender response. Make sure you price your services competitively without making a loss.

How can I succeed as an SME?

– Most buyers have preferred contract forms – for example, Durham County Council may only use NEC4 contracts. You can use this to your advantage by researching which contract forms buyers use. Bid for those with which you already have experience where possible. You can then use this as a selling point in your building tender.

Further support

Even if you’re highly prepared, you may lack the corporate literature or writing skills to tackle building tenders or you may be at capacity with your existing team. In addition, there are so many benefits to having a friend critically review your bid before submission, ensuring responses are directly answering the criteria. It’s imperative that a tender represents your business in the best possible light with no room for error. A quality SME can often be overlooked purely because it lacks a quality submission on paper. This can be highly frustrating. Especially when you know you have the capabilities to complete a contract in practice. Investing in building tenders via professional bid writing is a great method of growing your SME.

Need support?

If you want support with building tenders to grow your business, contact the Hudson Helpline. Our experts can give you bespoke advice regarding any queries you may have.

If you aren’t sure where to start with building tenders, we can support you through every step of the process. Our professional bid writers at Hudson Succeed can transform the way buyers view your business. They will ensure you’re putting your best foot forward in every bid. We have four support packages to help you win any building tender that is right for you. With an 87% success rate, our team can help you to win big and small building tenders, in any form. Contact us today to learn more about the options available to you.

If you simply need help finding building tenders, our Construction Tenders portal can solve this for you.

What are the benefits of using Construction Tenders?

– We are an industry-specific portal and we source both public and private sector opportunities across the UK.

– Our opportunity trackers search numerous portals every day. They then upload all new public and private construction tenders to our site and send them directly to you. You’ll receive all the current building tenders, directly to your inbox. These tenders have been manually sourced by real people – not CPV codes, which are often inaccurate. This guarantees accuracy and relevancy when using the portal, saving you valuable time.

– Multiple users can access the portal to make remote working with your team easier and more effective. You can access our popular ‘Tasks’ function in the portal. Important tasks can be split up and assigned to different members of your team as you form your tender. For instance, one team member may be assigned to focus on pricing, and another to quality, and so on. All of this can be tracked and evaluated succinctly as you form your tender remotely.

Below are previous building tenders sourced on our portal:

SSE Substation Building Construction – Carfax Close, Swindon

Swindon Borough Council- South West- Budget: Undisclosed

Thames Water Tenders £18m Building Construction Work Contract

Thames Water- London- Budget: £17,900,000

UK-London: Building Construction Work

Hyde Housing Association- London- Budget: £2,000,000,000

York Global Initiative for Safe Autonomy Building Construction

University of York- Yorkshire and Humber- Budget: £10,000,000

General Building Construction Framework Civils

Dublin Bus / Bus Atha Cliath- International- Budget: Undisclosed

See how our improved methods of tendering can win you building tenders and grow your business. Book a free live demo today.

Get in Touch

The construction industry has a wide range of building tenders on offer. If you need support in your tendering efforts, contact us today. Sign up to Construction Tenders and receive a daily construction leads bulletin of relevant tenders straight to your inbox.

This includes the following:

Similar Insights

How to Tender for Scaffolding Work

Read Article

5 Reasons Why You Aren’t Winning Tenders for Roofing Work

Read Article