How do you come by electrical tender opportunities? While a lot of established companies are approached to bid on projects, most need to keep a good system for identifying potential tender opportunities. You do want to keep your electrical estimators busy! It’s also important that you have a good strategy in place for identifying the best projects to be bidding on. It would be a mistake (and largely a waste of time) to bid on every project that comes up. Here are a few tips for where to look and what to consider before bidding:
Your electrical tender strategy
We’ve written previously about developing an effective tendering strategy. This is important because you could waste a lot of time and resources if you bid on projects that aren’t a great fit. You could also miss some that would be a perfect opportunity. Developing clear criteria for the type, size and scope of projects you will bid on is a good first step. You’ve got to know your own capabilities and play to your strengths. This isn’t to say that you should never look for the “next level” project, but you need to be realistic about the resources you have available and what it will take to complete the work. Having a system where you can easily refer to feedback from previous bids can also be helpful. If you can gather feedback from both successful and unsuccessful tenders, it's helpful to build this information into future bids.
How to find electrical tender opportunities
First, do you wish to work with the public sector, private sector, or both? This is something to decide when you're figuring out your tendering criteria. Your scope could be as broad or as narrow as you like - there are plenty of UK firms winning tenders for international projects too. Here’s what you can do to find those tender opportunities:
How to find public sector tenders in the UK
If you’d like to find tender opportunities with the government and its agencies, it’s well worth using the Contracts Finder website. This site has an excellent search function that allows you to find contracts over £10,000. Contracts Finder helps you to:
- Search for contract opportunities in different sectors
- Find out what’s coming up in the future
- Look up details of previous tenders and contracts
You can also set up email alerts so that you will know when contracts matching your search criteria come up. You can select from a range of search filters so that you’re able to hone in on the type of contract you would like. While most opportunities do end up on this site, of course there may be some that don’t (especially those under the £10,000 value). You can always check with your local government website as most will have a section outlining their tender process. For example, here is the page for the City of London. There is also a portal for London tenders across multiple boroughs. If you’re looking for tenders in other UK locations, here are the appropriate sites:
One of our tips for bidding on public sector tenders is to emphasise any added value that your company can bring to the table. For example, perhaps you're particularly skilled with sustainable practices, helping the agency to meet their objectives. Perhaps you can offer something like use of local labour, or training opportunities for apprentices. It’s often the case that the tender isn’t awarded based on the lowest price, but based on the full package you can deliver.
How to find private sector tender opportunities
Many private sector electrical tenders are advertised as well, but there are those which seem to happen on an “invite only” basis. Usually, if your company has developed a reputation, or someone happens to know somebody at the company seeking bids. This highlights the importance of building networks for electrical contractors and estimators. “Who you know” can definitely play a role in finding the right tender opportunities! Outside of your networks, it’s important to have an efficient system for identifying tender opportunities. You can spend a lot of time trawling through newspapers and you might turn up some good options, but you’ll also have to go through a lot of “poor fit” tenders. One of the most efficient ways to discover these tender opportunities is to set up alerts online. This ensures that you get a message anytime there is a tender which may be a fit for you. Here are some ways you can set up those alerts: LinkedIn alerts You can use LinkedIn’s job alert service to find electrical tenders. To do this, navigate to the “jobs” page and search for a job based on keywords. You can then click to set a job alert, as shown in the screenshot below:
From there, select how often you'd like to receive an email alert about new jobs on LinkedIn that fit those specific search parameters, either daily or weekly. Save your alert to complete the process. Twitter alerts There are several ways to set up alerts with Twitter. In any case, you will need to use a third-party software to receive alerts about potential tenders in a format that will be useful to you. Here are some solutions for setting up Twitter alerts:
- Use IFTTT (If This Then That). This software allows you to set up rules that connect various apps or accounts you might use. In the case of Twitter alerts, you can set up the “if” (trigger) for key words or hashtags used. A handy way to get easily digestible alerts is to set up the “that” to be a Google Sheet spreadsheet. So, any time someone tweeted your selected keywords or hashtag, the message would be added as a line to your Google Sheet. This allows you to follow up in your own time and is more easy to keep track of than multiple email alerts.
- Twitter alert services such as Twilert. These services will usually send you “real time” email alerts. You can set up to be alerted when particular hashtags are used, when certain accounts tweet, or when select keywords are used.
Google alerts Google alerts can be set up for free to monitor anything you like, including potential electrical tenders. They’re easy to set up, but the trick is to be very specific with what you’re monitoring, so that you’re not bombarded with low-quality results. To set up a Google alert:
- Navigate to google.co.uk/alerts
- Type in a sentence describing what you’d like to receive alerts for
- Use the “show options” button to help narrow down the alerts you’d like to receive
- Provide the email address for alerts to go to and save the alert.
Electrical tender services There are a few electrical tender service companies to be found online. These usually work by charging a subscription fee in return for sending suitable tender notices. Generally speaking, you’re paying to have tender opportunities found for you that meet a strict set of criteria, meaning that you should only get warm leads delivered. You will find these paid services for both public and private sector contracts. Sometimes the companies that provide them also have a service for writing bids. They can be pricey, but if your company doesn’t have good experience with bid writing or doesn’t have a lot of time to find opportunities, they may be a good fit.
Finding electrical tender opportunities should be something that you have a system for. It’s far too easy to get busy and put aside any thought of looking for new projects, which isn't a sustainable business strategy. A good system for tracking and being alerted to tender opportunities means you'll maintain a strong pipeline of work. Using automated alert systems like those mentioned above is an efficient way to monitor new opportunities. Don’t forget to use an efficient system for bidding on those opportunities while you’re at it. For automated take-off counting, check out Countfire today, the secret behind quicker, more accurate estimates.