After you have your GSA Contract, you have finally made it to the starting line – GSA Management. I know that sounds bad, you thought the race was over. It helps to think of getting your GSA Contact as Basic Training, and now you are ready for battle. Winning with your GSA Contract takes (1) Preparation and (2) Discipline. GSA Management is not easy, but it is vital for success.
GSA Management – Marketing
Preparation comes into play when you develop a solid marketing plan in order to sale to the federal government. This will include getting your set-asides in order, getting your GSA Contract, attending networking events, etc. Also, this means searching and tracking bid opportunities, and pursuing them with proposals. It requires a good deal of preparation, in the form of building staff and processes.
After a few weeks of GSA Management, you will likely learn that the Federal Market is very similar to the commercial market in some ways, but also very different in others. Here are some insights that speak to those similarities and differences:
- With both, the best value should win, but best price usually wins.
- They are both in large part offices and employees using products and services, so the needs are often similar.
- The Fed has a complicated Bidding and Acquisition process, while businesses do what they want.
- With Fed competition is limited but mandatory, while businesses can do what they want.
- Federal Contracting Officers are held accountable to taxpayers (and can be sued personally), while businesses do what they want.
- Federal awards can be protested and overturned, Businesses can do what they want.
So, a commercial buyer has much more freedom than a federal buyer. They do what they want, right. These things are important to keep in mind when working with a federal buyer, there are so many more hoops that they must jump through, and if you can make the hoops go away, you will win their hearts and their budgets. Did you think GSA Management would be anything other than politics?
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GSA Management – Modifications & Compliance
Discipline comes into play in the form of (1) GSA Contract upkeep, and (2) GSA Contract Compliance. GSA Management is not fun and they are not going to win you anything, but they will keep you out of hot water.
Keeping your GSA offerings fresh is a very important step in proper GSA Contract Management. You don’t want to offer a widget on GSAAdvantage! for $100, if you are paying the Manufacturer $120 for that item. On the flip side, if the Manufacture price drops, you want that to reflect on your GSA Contract so you can sell more of them.
You can perform several types of modifications to your GSA Contract: Add, Price Change, Delete, Admin changes. Modifying your GSA Contract is relatively easy (especially if you are a GSA Focus Customer). There were around 30 documents involved in getting your GSA Contract, but a modification only uses 5-10 documents.
After your modifications are approved, you must post the updates to GSAAdvantage! (again, very easy if you are a GSA Focus Customer). Then, the changes are live for all federal buyers to see.
GSA Contract Compliance
There are a few major aspects of GSA Compliance, but it is advisable that you get acquainted with all of the requirements that relate to your GSA Contract. Here are a few of the major Compliance topics:
Minimum Sales Requirement – You must sell at least $25,000 through your GSA Contract every year. The GSA gives you two years in the first round to build some sales momentum.
Price Reductions Clause – Your agreement with the GSA regarding the discount you offer them reaches into your commercial practices. So, you could have major compliance issues if you do not have a standardized price list commercially that you follow to the T.
TAA Compliance – Selling Chinese products through GSA is not allowed, because of something called the Trade Agreement Act (TAA). Many other countries are not permissible either. This gets pretty complicated at times, especially when “Country of Origin” is not 100% obvious if components are made in multiple countries (where some are compliant and some are not).
Wage Determinations – Service-based GSA Contract Holders are held to the local standards of the SCA or Davis Bacon wage determinations in some cases. This is hammered-out when getting a GSA Contract, and must be followed throughout the life of the contract.
Others – There are many other important and relevant Clauses in the Solicitation document that lead you to getting your GSA Contract. Additionally, the FAR is an ever-growing object. It helps to become a federal contracting nerd, so you can keep up with the changing landscape under you. It also helps to have a good Lawyer that specializes in Government Contracts.