The US Government established GSA Schedules to provide a streamlined procedure for federal agencies to acquire products and services without going through many hoops to find the right supplier or manufacturer. Opting for a GSA Contract is an excellent avenue to sell to federal agencies. Besides the convenience of locating open bids, applying for a GSA Contract allows buyers to find suitable suppliers.
Eligibility Criteria and Requirements of GSA
Government contract holders are heavily screened and evaluated to make it to the GSA Advantage! list. This list is the online network for government contracting. Making it to the list means that you are a company that federal agencies can trust. To qualify to sell to GSA, here are some of the eligibility criteria and requirements tick of the list:
- Your company is registered correctly – GSA only works with properly and officially registered organizations.
- Your company must have been existing for at least two years – Not only must your company exist for at least 24 months, but it must also show its profitability for the last two consecutive years,
- Your company is independent of GSA or federal agencies – It is unlawful to award a GSA Schedule to a company related to an officer, the GSA, or any federal agencies.
- Your products are Trade Agreements Act-compliant – Each part, detail, or unit of your services or products must adhere to existing TAA regulations.
- You have good references from previous clients – Another determining factor for eligibility is the Past Performance Evaluation which involves gathering references and testimonials from clients of the company applying for a GSA Schedule Contract.
Benefits of Holding a GSA Schedule Contract
Among the benefits of holding GSA Schedules is that it simplifies the process for both buyers and sellers. More specifically, it removes the need to negotiate the price because applying for a GSA contract already asks you to submit your fees to GSA Advantage! before you start selling. Additionally, holding a GSA Schedule Contract means keeping a long-term agreement of selling to the government. A typical GSA Schedule contract lasts for five years. A company can renew this schedule for up to three additional five-year periods. Within this term, businesses can network and become a stakeholder for federal agencies. This move will earn them a lot of fortune and revenue. Nearly $45 billion runs through GSA Contracts each year.
Although GSA Contracts are a great path to expand a business, there are many pre-qualifying factors that you have to qualify for to apply for a GSA Schedule. Managing your GSA Schedule is a relatively quick and easy process, but the same cannot be said for the entire application process to get to the point of qualifying for a GSA Schedule.
Top Factors Why Businesses Don’t Qualify For GSA Schedules
The success that government contracting has attained is enough for other companies, regardless of size, to opt for a GSA Schedule contract. However, wanting to have a GSA Schedule may not always result in getting one, as not all businesses will qualify. To have a better shot at securing that GSA Contract, the most important thing to do is research. It is not enough to want to secure a GSA Contract. The company must be fully aware of the process, requirements, and workflow before applying. There are several reasons why businesses do not qualify for GSA Schedule Contracts. Besides the business structure, government contracting’s process and workings might usher businesses into changing their minds.
Time is one of the most important things to consider in applying for a GSA Contract. Newsflash, GSA Schedule applications are not a simple contact information form. GSA Schedule applications consist of an average of 30 pages of solicited information about your business.
Also, it takes businesses an average of 70 hours to accomplish an application without expert help. GSA Schedule Contract application is a laborious process. The hours spent preparing the needed documents to apply can get dismissed just as quickly when mistakes get overlooked.
Besides preparing your application, you must also prepare to answer GSA questions once your application is under review. Then, you will have to negotiate on the terms before you can finally list your products and services on GSA Advantage!. Having been briefed on what it is like to apply for GSA Contracts, you must consider how much time you are willing to dedicate to get a GSA Schedule. It is also important to note whether or not you have team members who have the flexibility to endure this undertaking.
Aside from time, the next significant factor to account for is money. Knowing how to price your products and services is only half the battle. It is important to note that only 40% of GSA Contract holders earn a profit. Ensuring that your products and services get priced competitively will help you stand out and even win the bid.
Once you decide that you are willing to commit time and prepare the costs, it is time to examine the business-specific steps to guarantee a GSA Schedule Contract. As stated above, your business should be:
- Financially stable
- At least two years old
- Offering commercially available products
- Compliant with the Trade Agreement Act (TAA)
If some of these considerations are not matching up with your business, it may be time to look for opportunities outside government contracting. If you know that your business would not find success with a GSA Schedule Contract, it might be wise to redirect your supposed efforts for applying to other goals that will expand your business. On the contrary, if you find yourself ticking off all the boxes on the lists, a GSA Schedule Contract could be your springboard to a more stable and successful business venture.
The path of government contracting is going to be bumpy. But at the end of this bumpy road comes an abundance of great opportunities for your business. Knowing your business well, researching ahead of time, and ensuring you and your team’s readiness to take on this task will significantly increase your success rate.