The General Services Administration (GSA) is the agency that oversees the transactions of federal government institutions. As the primary contact for the procurement of goods and services, GSA serves as the “landlord of the government.”
For many businesses, obtaining a GSA Schedule is an excellent opportunity to expand their market. Opening your company to the government marketplace can bring you a steady stream of income. Despite how saturated your product might be, there will always be a federal institution willing to purchase from you.
You need to go through a tedious process with the guaranteed income before even receiving a GSA Schedule. A handful of enterprises that come unprepared can likely result in rejections. Therefore, it is best to come prepared. Before talking to a GSA Consultant that provides GSA Schedule help, consider this step-by-step guide to getting started:
1. Determine Eligibility & Readiness
Before entering the tedious and lengthy application process, make sure that your business is ready. It is important to note that GSA services get offered to companies that can deliver the best results. The threshold to be awarded a GSA contract expresses the solicitation in detail. To give you an idea, here are the minimum requirements:
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- The company must already be at least two years in the industry, with financial statements covering two years.
- Past Performance Rating following the Dun and Bradstreet Open Rating system Express compliance with the critical clause of the GSA solicitation, including:
- Trade Agreement Act
- Buy American Act
- Service Contract Act
- Administrative and reporting requirements stated in the GSA solicitation.
Part of the compliance with the eligibility requirements includes attending the mandatory GSA training. GSA offers two mandatory training programs and educational opportunities to help businesses understand GSA Scheduling better.
If you want to apply for a GSA contract, you have to attend these training programs:
Pathway to Success
Pathways to Success provides an in-depth explanation of how GSA schedules work. This resource demonstrates the requirements to become eligible, the offer process, and contracting opportunities to explore. By the end of this training, you will determine what it takes to be a thriving industry partner.
Readiness Assessment Training
The Readiness Assessment Training helps you apply to the right offerings for you. They will hone your skills in utilizing GSA data sources to develop leads. An evaluation module helps a business determine its best schedule, categories, and Special Item Numbers (SINs).
As mentioned, GSA offers ample learning opportunities for businesses willing to learn more. Here are optional educational tools and resources you can take advantage of:
- GSA offers Vendor Days
- Orientation for New Contractor and Schedule Holders
- Preparation for Government Contract Proposals
- Marketing 101: A Guide to Winning Customers
- GSA Information Technology-For Schedule 70 participants
- Acquisition Gateway
2. Craft a Competitive Proposal
Before preparing a competitive proposal, make sure that have completed the registration for the following:
- Dun and Bradstreet: Obtain a DUNS number for your business
- System for Awards Management (SAM): Complete your annual reports and certificates to finish the registration.
- Open Rating Report: This report refers to the comprehensive data of your previous customer evaluation. The data should consist of at least five surveys from five different customers. This portion of the proposal details the costs, quality, and reliability of your products and services.
- Digital Certificate: This certificate gets entered into the GSA e-offer system. The GSA e-offer system is the platform where businesses perform requests to make changes in the contract. You can purchase the certificate from third-party providers, so it’s better to ask a GSA consultant for assistance.
After completing all of the things mentioned above, proceed to familiarize yourself with the solicitation. The solicitation can help you determine the key factors to place in the proposal. You can also get a GSA consultant to walk you through this lengthy document to comprehend its terms and conditions.
Preparing the Proposal
The proposal should entail an elaborate detail of your business by the GSA format. GSA is strict regarding standards. Thus, it’s best to understand what they want. More often than not, most of the contract portions can only get fulfilled by an experienced GSA specialist. It also helps you increase your chances of getting approved.
The proposal must express the complete information of how you can extend acquisition options and services for the federal government. Every report must be relevant following the GSA standard. Here is some of the information that GSA looks for in a proposal:
- History of business and previous performance
- Contingent Management Plans
- Technical specifications of products and offerings
- Complete detail of the product manufacturer
- Complete information about your workforce’s capacity for services
- Organizational Chart
To complete a competitive and elaborate proposal, make sure that you also have the following documents:
- Authorization letter
- Letter of supply
- Subcontracting Plan (for medium or big businesses)
- Cancellation/Rejection Letters (for businesses filing for re-application of GSA contract)
- Commercial Supplier Agreement
- Financial statements and audits
- Pricing Data, Proposal, and Support
Pricing data, proposal, and support are crucial in a GSA proposal. This information gives GSA an idea about the price point you can offer to their subsidiaries. The pricing proposal must include the following:
- Labor category matrix sample
- Compensation Plan (For businesses offering professional services)
- Commercial Sales Practices Format based on the “Most Favored Customer” pricing
- Market Rate Sheet (For pricing evaluation)
- Price Narrative (Must demonstrate why your pricing is “fair and reasonable”)
- Additional data that backs the pricing: invoice, contract, quote sheets, and catalogs
3. Negotiate Favorable Terms
After you submit your proposal, you have to wait until GSA officials respond. Typically, businesses hear back from them when they have clarifications regarding your offerings. After clarifying the terms, you can finally proceed to negotiate your contract. Negotiation prepares businesses to craft their final proposal and make minor changes.
Ensure that you have a clear understanding of the terms and conditions in the contract before signing an agreement. If you want to negotiate terms, here are some of the factors you should consider:
- Do you agree with the general discount set?
- Do you agree with the volume/quantity discounts set?
- Check whether the terms for Prompt payment discount is feasible for you.
- Are the Freight Conditions viable for your business?
4. Maintain Your GSA Contract
You must manage your GSA contract accordingly to sustain a strong partnership with GSA. This management involves committing to a promising marketing strategy that ensures consistent sales. Once you receive a deal, you must make a sale to maintain your GSA schedule. Pursue bidding opportunities to expand your market and build your reputation through networking and increasing your brand exposure.
Moreover, you won’t ever have a problem with your GSA contract if you practice proper upkeep. Modify your contract every time you want to make changes in the prices, products, and services.
A GSA Schedule is a government-wide contract that allows businesses to expand their audience to the government marketplace. Companies go through a tedious process before receiving a permit to make a sale, but everything is worth it with all the available opportunities. If you have more questions and are willing to learn more about your business’ perfect schedule, contact a GSA consultant at GSA Focus today!