The GSA Schedule number refers to the number assigned to your contract. GSA Schedule Contracts are five-year government-wide documents that allow you to do business across federal agencies.
The format of your GSA Schedule number should follow this format “47QXXXXXXXXXX.” The Three (3) digits after “47Q” for your General Schedule Number is the specific category code you have been awarded a contract under one particular GSA schedule. For example, if you have an IT Schedule Category, you should expect the equivalent code “TCA”. The following strings of seven (7) letters and numbers are on the code specific to your company.
The process of obtaining a GSA Schedule can be overwhelming. It goes through a tedious process that can likely result in many rejections. For this reason, it is best to consult with GSA Contract specialists to ensure your best approach.
Let’s discuss the complex process of obtaining a GSA Schedule number to give you an idea.
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1. Do Your Research
Getting a GSA Contract is a strict process that is prone to many failures. For this reason, it is integral to put enough effort into your research. Conducting extensive research into GSA is vital to ensure that going through the tedious process is worth it. This research allows you to determine whether getting into this industry can increase your profitability or not.
Before jumping the gun, you should be fully aware of two things. First, you should have already identified by now the agencies that could be your potential buyers. Look into these agencies and see to it that they utilize GSA enough to purchase from you. Second, you should have a clear understanding of the amount of work and commitment needed to thrive in this business. Besides the dreadful application process, you should be able to employ enough workforce to maintain the contract. It is crucial to have a dedicated sales and marketing team to manage the federal bids as well. Otherwise, you are simply bound to fail.
Part of your thorough research is to isolate which GSA Schedule most appropriate for your company. This distinction is vital to determine the document package you have to use for the solicitation documents. Most often, vendors want to increase their chances of getting through by applying to every GSA Schedule listed. Do not make this mistake as miscategorized offers will not be approved.
GSA Schedules cover almost every industry, from medical to IT services. There are 40 Schedules between GSA and VA Federal Supply Schedules with industry-related offerings.
These offerings get subcategorized into Special Item Numbers (SIN’s). You can access the complete list of GSA Schedule on the GSA eLibrary directory.
2. GSA Offer Preparations and Submissions
The heavy paperwork and legwork happen in the second stage of the process. This portion is where you need to prepare 15 to 30 documents you need to submit for the GSA Offer.
Here’s an overview of the documents you need to prepare.
Open Ratings Report
The Open Ratings Report refers to your customer evaluation; customers complete at least five surveys for you to formulate a comprehensive report. The generated report should outline the quality, reliability, costs, etc. of your offerings.
A digital certificate is essential to access the GSA e-offer system. The e-offer system is where you will make modification requests for your GSA contracts in the future. The certificate is available for purchase through reputable third-party providers.
This part refers to the company’s information, proving to GSA that you can meet federal buyers’ demands. It summarizes the crucial details based on the format GSA requires. You can opt for a GSA Contract specialist to form an elaborate technical proposal. GSA can be strict in checking the GSA offer’s scope so it’s likely you’ll have questions only a GSA specialist can answer.
After securing your technical proposal, you should be good to go. You can access the E-offer system using a digital certificate to begin uploading the necessary attachments. It is important to note that all the information on your documents should match the data entered. Here are the documents you need to enter in the system.
- Corporate Information
- Standard Responses
- Solicitation Clauses
3. Clarifications and Negotiations
If you get this far, you are likely to be awarded a GSA Contract eventually. This portion indicates that GSA officials accepted your offer thus far, although they need some clarifications to proceed. You need to be prepared at this point because they often give short deadlines to complete GSA Clarifications.
They may not be fully satisfied with your documents, or some contents might be inconsistent. Regardless, these are minor gaps that you need to fill right away to proceed to the negotiations. It is integral to be as responsive as possible to complete everything as early as possible. Otherwise, clarifications might drag on for several months.
After going through clarifications, you can now proceed to negotiate your contract. Negotiation is the preparation of your final proposal for minor revisions. This part is where you negotiate the General Discount, Volume/Quantity Discounts, Prompt Payment Discount, Freight Conditions, etc. of your GSA Contract. Furthermore, it is essential to carefully read the terms and conditions before you sign in agreement.
4. Register your GSA Contract
After being awarded a GSA Contract, it is crucial to register across GSA systems. These systems are integral to inform you about the opportunities before they are public. This process can also be a great avenue to advertise your products and services to Purchasing Contracting Officers (PCO’s).
Here are the different GSA systems:
GSA Advantage is the e-commerce system where federal buyers go to make purchases. Orders that take less than $3,000 utilize a Government Purchase Card, without any competition. For larger orders, GSA Advantage research is used to justify purchases. This system allows them to gather at least three bids without letting the contractors know.
GSA E-buy provides valuable information about all the GSA offers and monitors their progress. This system allows you to discover the latest opportunities that only you and a handful of people can access. Federal buyers post their projects under $30,000 to exclusive GSA Contract holders. Federal projects that exceed that amount go to FBO.gov.
GSA E-library is the directory for federal buyers to discover GSA Contract holder contractors. They can find the contact details, GSA Number, DUNS, a list of SIN’s, Set-asides, and the link to the contractor’s Text file. The Text file refers to the information about the significant terms of the GSA Contract. This section includes freight, delivery, volume or quantity discount, etc.
5. Management and Compliance
GSA Management is the key to a successful contract. It involves strategizing through a comprehensive marketing plan to establish consistent sales. Along with building an exceptional staff, you can monitor bid opportunities and pursue them using proposals. Attending networking events also helps build your reputation and gain exposure.
Here are some points you need to remember to succeed.
- With a vast selection of similar products and services, the best price usually wins.
- An effective way to grow leads is to find the agencies that use similar products to your brand.
- Get on top of the bidding opportunities to obtain as many customers and valuable projects as possible.
Another part of GSA management is maintaining your contract compliance. You need to practice proper contact upkeeping through timely modifications. The modifications involve price changes, deletion, and administrative alterations. For instance, you would have to modify your contract when the manufacturer prices drop.
Don’t fret! If your contract application took over 30 documents, this could only take 5 to 10 to complete. After making modifications, simply wait for the approval.
Here are some points you need to remember to ensure contract compliance.
- You need to make at least $25,000 in sales each year. For your first year, GSA gives you two years to get yourself familiarized and build your momentum.
- Follow the standardized price list you provided with GSA. Price reduction clauses can be a significant compliance issue that can affect your contract.
- The Trade Agreement Act (TAA) forbids selling any form of products from outside the US.
- Service-based GSA Contract Holders are subject to the local standards of the SCA or Davis Bacon wage determinations in some cases.
- Keep yourself informed of the critical and relevant clauses in the solicitation document. For terms that you don’t understand, consult with a lawyer specializing in government contracts.