The road to becoming a Federal Services GSA Contractor can be drastically different for businesses, even from the same industry. The reason is that working for the government is not like working for private contracts. Becoming a Federal Services GSA Contractor has a lot of different necessities that make the process far more than being good at what you do. Here are a few of the different areas where government contracts differ heavily from private contracts:
- Accounting: Private contracts are not too concerned with your accounting, as long as you are charging them correctly. However, the government has to constantly wade through laws, regulations, and justifications. Thus, there is a specific accounting system that your company needs to adhere to in order to help the government combat those issues.
- Classification: When it comes to the government, the classification is key. If you are classified (and can prove) that you are a capable small business or a small business with a disadvantage, you will have an easier time landing a government contract. The reason is that the government is required to hire a certain percentage of small businesses and small businesses set-asides to maintain their funding.
- Offerings: The GSA Schedules is trying to get contracts from businesses they can use in multiple areas. It is a comprehensive and efficient way to do business. However, for small businesses competing for government contracts, this means they need to be able to offer more to have a better chance of being hired.
List of Federal Services GSA Schedules & Sales Numbers
The need and availability greatly impact the sales projection for GSA Schedules. IT services and professional services account for 47% and 29% of the total sales from 2019. However, when you are talking about millions of dollars, this is just a piece of the pie that the US government allocates to GSA Schedules each year. Here is the data from 2019:
Listed by GSA Category:
- Information Technology: $15,548,730,972
- Professional Services: $9,541,608,547
- Industrial Products & Services: $1,223,962,363
- Office Management: $1,067,789,549
- Security & Protection: $1,009,925,532
- Furniture & Furnishings: $998,033,122
- Facilities: $932,136,577
- Scientific Management & Solutions: $659,223,195
- Travel: $542,374,349
- Transportation & Logistics Services: $505,649,361
- Human Capital: $481,481,406
- Miscellaneous: $343,174,087
5 Year Sales Trends
The figures that are presented for 2019 make it clear that there is plenty of money to be made through the GSA Schedule and their contracts. Yet, the news gets even better. Over the last five years, the number of sales made by the government is steadily increasing.
Each year, for the last five years, the sales have jumped at least a billion dollars, if not more, according to the Federal News Network.
Marketing Channels for Federal Services GSA Schedules
There are plenty of different channels where business owners can find jobs that are payrolled by GSA Schedules. Here are some of the most useful:
GSA eBuy is one of the most well-known platforms for quiring GSA’s Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) and GSA Technology Contracts. This site works by businesses searching for and proposing Requests for Quotations (RFQs). These RFQs are posted by government agencies seeking a service. If your company fits the bill, you could be hired.
Additionally, GSA eBuy is a great resource for figuring out what the GSA MAS is looking for and how they expect to be proposed.
GSA Advantage! is an online catalog that allows GSA Certified Companies to create a profile of their products and services. Once approved and live, companies can have their products and services purchased directly by federal buyers. It does take a good amount of preparation to get accepted into the GSA Advantage! Yet, once you are in, it could lead to an exorbitant amount of life-changing job prospects.
The GSA eLibrary is a resource that allows businesses and the government to connect in a timeframe that helps meet today’s acquisition challenges. The GSA Schedule is dedicated to delivering premier acquisition services for value, cost, quality, and service. This dedication extends beyond federal agencies, to directly influence taxpayers.
Businesses can also be connected with GSA Advantage and GSA eBuy directly from the GSA eLibrary.
Secrets to Growing Your Service Business with a GSA Contract
When any business is awarded a government contract, they have earned it. It is no simple feat to receive a place on the GSA Schedule. This is especially true because of all the competition inherent in each industry. However, that doesn’t mean there are not a few secrets that will help boost your proposal ahead of others in your market:
Doing competitive research is an asset, regardless of where you are making a proposal. Fortunately, when you are proposing to the government, there are a lot of resources that can help you conduct that research.
Here are a few of the lesser-known tools:
- CALC Tool – The CALC tool will provide the hourly rate range for your industry and the amount of experience your company has.
- GSA Advantage Services Search -This search bar helps find information about different contracts and industries that are in need of contractors.
Understand the buyer (Contracting Officers)
Understanding the buyer is the best way to give the buyer what they want. The more your proposal caters to their needs and gets them the information as quickly as possible, the better. Of course, this also has to be organized and have the correct flow, according to the buyer’s stipulations. Here is how to adhere to these stipulations for GSA Contracts:
The procedures for each schedule have specific rules and regulations that need to be adhered to. Before sending any proposal, make sure you are fitting the proposal into the correct schedule procedure structure.
Language of Federal Acquisition:
The jargon, lingo, language, syntax, and abbreviations used by any industry is important to know when you are applying for a position within any industry. The government is no different. Thus, make sure you know the language that is found in Schedules and use that language correctly in your proposal, where it is appropriate.
Choosing the right Opportunities
Everything about the GSA and working for the government can be intimidating. Yet, if you follow the directions they give and be honest about your experience, chances are, you will get a job. After all, over 50% of RFQs do not get 3 bids.
Nevertheless, if your company is not getting jobs, here are the most common reasons your business is being passed up:
- There are signs of a recompete
- Your technical write up is too narrow
- Your product specs are too specific
The good news is that every time your company presents a bid, whether you are chosen or not, you are debriefed. Use this debrief to learn what you could do better next time to have a better shot at winning the bid.
Becoming a Proposal Writing Guru
Ultimately, writing a proper proposal is giving the buyer exactly what they ask for, in the order that they ask for it. Even if the order doesn’t make sense and even if it feels like you are answering the same question over and over again, just do it the way they want it done. Plus, your proposal must stand out and convince the buyer that your company is right for the job.
This can be incredibly overwhelming but when all is said and done, honesty, excitement, and understanding of the project and their procedure are all GSA Schedules are looking for. Here are a few tips to keeping your proposal simple and on-point:
- Learn the basics: Make sure you know exactly what the buyer is asking and answer them to the letter.
- Learn by doing: Research is helpful but the only way you are truly going to learn the process is by going through it.
- Debrief to improve: If you ask for a debrief, whether you win or lose, each GSA Schedule buyer must provide a debrief. This should tell you who won, why you didn’t win, your overall score and other technical elements. If you want to know the answer to a specific question, ask them.
Other General Advice for Federal Services GSA Contractors
There is a lot of money to be made as a GSA Contractor. However, most of the time, when seemingly qualified businesses don’t get contracts, it is for simple reasons. While this can be difficult, it also means that it is easy to fix.
To close, here are a few more general tips for sending in a proposal to become a Federal Service GSA Contractor:
Start Small: Don’t go after huge projects in the beginning. Start small and show buyers that you can do what you say you can do. This will build a rapport, which will help you get better and bigger contracts in the future.
Do Your Research: The best asset you have when applying for a GSA Contract is that there is always a lot of information and clarifications of exactly what the Schedule is looking for and who your GSA competitors are. Use these resources to your advantage every chance you get.
Network and Build Relationships: The government is just another large company. It needs people that they trust to do work for them. If you can network correctly and build relationships with buyers, you will become the person they go to because they know you. It might not happen overnight but if you are consistent, persistent, and easy to work with, you will eventually become an asset.