For Small Businesses, getting a Federal Supply Schedule is often a boost to revenue. This is from the new opportunities the FSS program brings.
What is the GSA FSS Program?
You will come across various names for Federal Supply Schedule. FSS is also called:
- GSA Schedule Contracts
- GSA Schedules
- Multiple Awards Schedules (MAS)
GSA (General Service Administration) facilitates Government operations. Its two main programs are:
VA FSS – Program overseen by the Department of Veterans Affairs managing the sale of medical items.
Federal Supply Schedules
Federal Supply Schedules are one of the most popular programs of FAS. The goal of FSS is to facilitate federal employees and agencies in purchasing commercial supplies and services at the best pre-determined prices. Moreover, they offer simple, pre-negotiated delivery terms and warranties to assist contractors.
Federal supply schedule programs are also helpful for small businesses interested in doing business with the Government. Most federal agencies prefer to buy from businesses through FSS or GSA Schedule contracts.
Therefore, small business owners aspiring to sell to federal agencies can greatly benefit from an FSS contract.
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Benefits of Getting a Federal Supply Schedule
Getting an FSS contract offers some great benefits.
There are many perks of getting a Federal Supply Schedule Contract. It makes you eligible for other contracts that bring continued orders and more revenues.
- Blanket Purchase Agreements
A federal agency or contractor can establish a Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPA) with a small business holding an FSS contract. BPA’s benefit both parties. They are continuous or repetitive orders without the redundancy of continued ordering procedures.
- GSA Advantage
Having an FSS contract means you can participate on GSA Advantage. It is an online shopping space that allows Federal Government agencies to purchase products and services directly from businesses with FSS contracts.
- Contractor Team Arrangements
Sometimes, in order to receive more complex services, federal agencies make agreements with two or more businesses. Of course, they often must be FSS contract holders.
- Blanket Purchase Agreements
Having a Federal Supply Schedule Contract means you can pursue many lucrative bidding opportunities that others cannot. It makes you a candidate to get in on one of the largest target markets, and eligible for the $30 billion in spending from the US Government.Wondering what are your chances of benefiting from this? Here is the good news. The government requires federal agencies to do business with small companies rather than big corporations. In fact, 23% of federal contracts go to small businesses.
Conduct Business Efficiently
First, the Federal Supply Schedule contracts strictly follow all applicable laws. Once awarded, you can avoid repetitive negotiations, and back-and-forth on Request for Proposals (RFP’s).Likewise, since prices are pre-negotiated, you can also save time. This streamlines the whole operation, making it a bit easier on you and the buyer.
How to Leverage a Federal Supply Schedule to Grow your Business?
GSA Federal Supply Schedule Contracts can seem daunting. Many small businesses find proposal writing and federal competition intimidating. I assure you that your company would be a great help to many federal agencies. They are just people and organizations, And just like your current set of customers, they really do want to hear how you can solve their problems.
Here are a few steps that will help you get over the initial nervousness and focus on the leveraged growth of your business with FSS. These simple tips will also improve your chances of getting Federal Supply Schedule Awards.
Researching your Industry
Federal agencies and the military deal with a wide range of industries. Every product and service has a chance to be a part of it.Still, before you start, do a little research to see if your business is relevant. To verify, open USASpending.com and enter your industry’s NAICS (North American Industry Classification System). You will get the information about previous bids and awards related to your industry.
Keys for Finding the Best Opportunities
Using FedBizOpps: (link)
You will find Federal Contract Opportunities on this official Government website. Here is how you can use the search effectively.
- Use the right keywords for your industry. This will help you shortlist the solicitations.
- Sort the search results in the sequence they were posted. This will save you from wasting time on notices that have a closer deadline.
- Focus on Solicitations-contracts open for proposals and Pre-Solicitation-contracts that will open in the future.
- Sources Sought is a research request that helps federal agencies identify their target businesses for future contracts.
When you select a Solicitation notice, you will find contract information, contact details, deadlines, and proposal pre-requisites. They are also called RFP (Request for Proposal) or RFQ (Request for Quotes).
Small Business Set-Asides are a large advantage for small business contractors. First, you have to establish that you are a small business using your NAICS. Then, you can send proposals for opportunities exclusive to small businesses.The set-asides also include small businesses in various socio-economic categories like:
- Women-owned small businesses
- Veteran-owned or Service-disabled veteran-owned
- Small businesses in a HUB Zone (historically underutilized business zone)
- Disadvantaged small businesses
- 8(a) certified
If your business falls in any of the above categories, then it makes great sense to utilize them.
Tips for Bidding on Contracts
Bidding on contracts is a challenging step especially in the beginning. But here are some tips that help you with bidding.
- Read & Review—Before bidding, make sure that you and your company have the resources and skills to complete the order. Also, take a look at the regulatory requirements.
- Pricing—Try to provide the best value for the contract. Your best value doesn’t have to be the lowest price. To get an idea of the price, take a look at older bids that were awarded and competitors GSA price lists.
- Attractive Proposal—To make your proposal stand out, use images, graphics and white space. Also, double-check for spellings and grammatical errors.
- Technical Specs—Your technical proposal becomes a part of the contract. So, remember to use specific technical details carefully. Don’t promise something that you cannot provide.
Remember that holding a Federal Supply Schedule Contract doesn’t mean you will win the contract. It makes you eligible for contract offers and improves your chances of getting picked.
Public Sector Marketing
In order to succeed as an FSS contractor, small businesses should focus on marketing. A strong marketing plan will improve your company’s potential to get awards, win contracts and earn revenue.Marketing improves your chances to get more visibility and win more contracts andawards through the GSA FSS program.Each Federal Supply Schedule contractor is given a unique contractor number. Business owners can use that number to advertise their products and services. Marketing has several avenues in the federal space:
- Attending Conferences and Tradeshows
- Federal networking events with face-to-face meetings
- Building relationships with federal End Users & Contracting Officers
- Commercial Marketing Techniques – Emailing / Social Media / SEO / etc.
- Webinars can help you stand out as an industry expert and help train buyers
- Partnering with Primes or other Small Businesses to improve overall offerings
The GSA and VA Federal Supply Schedule Programs are a great opportunity for Small Businesses. You can give your business a great boost by becoming an FSS contractor. Hopefully, you learned about the FSS program, and how to leverage it to grow your business. The steps above will help you get over the initial nervousness of working with the fed, and focus on the growth of your business with FSS. Now, get out there and pursue a Federal Supply Schedule to win some big Awards!