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Whether you're just venturing out into a long-awaited career as a general contractor, or have already spent years building a small contracting company from the ground up, you may be focused on private projects like the construction of residences or businesses. However, with the economy continuing to recover (and infrastructure around the country falling into disrepair), government building, roadwork, and other construction contracts can prove a lucrative way to boost your company's name and bottom line. Read on to learn more about the steps you should take when bidding on a government contract for the first time.
Take an honest assessment of your company's skills
While it can be financially tempting to bid for a seemingly unattainable project simply due to the high price tag attached, beginning with small, easily do-able projects is your best strategy for long-term success. Once you've succeeded in a few government contracts, you'll be much more likely to be given the opportunity to complete more complex and public-facing projects.
However, there's no need to undersell yourself or your crew if you're easily capable of completing a specific job as well as (or better than) the competition. In your bid, you'll want to play up your achievements -- if you've frequently cut days off your time-to-completion estimates for private customers, or have been able to save thousands of dollars in material costs by being efficient in your waste management processes, point these factors out.
Look into equipment rental costs (and surcharges)
If your company doesn't yet own the equipment you'll need to complete a specific project, you're not alone -- few contracting companies can afford to have this heavy equipment on standby between projects. As a licensed general contractor, you should be able to rent this equipment from a rental facility at a lower rate than that offered to the general public. However, before securing a quote to include with your proposal, you'll want to investigate your state government's specific equipment rental reimbursement rates. Many states will place a cap on the rates they'll pay for contract equipment rentals, and may also disclaim any additional charges or fees resulting from delays on the project (even if these delays are due to weather or other factors outside your direct control).
While you may be able to recover any lost rental reimbursement costs by building in extra fees or surcharges to other parts of your proposal, knowing exactly how much your state will pay for the use of certain equipment can help you write an informed proposal that's likely to be approved, as well as help ensure you won't lose money on this portion of the deal.
Evaluate your crew
Many government contracts give preferential consideration to contractors or companies who make an effort to incorporate diversity into their hiring practices. In fact, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will help back the loans you may need in order to secure a government contract if you're a "minority-owned business" -- that is, if at least one owner of your business is in a racial or ethnic group that has traditionally been economically disadvantaged. Women-owned businesses may also qualify for favorable rates and terms through loans backed by the SBA.
In many cases, your bid may be given a higher ranking than a similar bid from a competing organization simply due to the minority composition of your crew. While putting the final touches on your bid, you may want to specifically point out the percentage of total employees (and managers) of your company who are part of traditionally disadvantaged groups, particularly if these proportions are much higher than that of minority citizens in the general region.Share