As small business contractors, we know how tough it is to get daily operations up and running; let alone set up a proposal shop and to go after business. Most often, it’s a one-person shop, hunting and gathering crumbs in the govcon jungle. This can obviously be very overwhelming and wasteful as time passes, but there are some quick and easy ways to be a bit smarter about planning your bids.
This industry, as we all know, is quite cutthroat, not just in price/rates, but also in partnerships/performance. If you’re in the right place at the right time (read: right team/right contract), you can suddenly find yourself on a meteoric path to growth. However, most often you’re just trying to get a few contract full-time equivalents (FTEs) here and there until you get enough past performance or a wonderful set-aside contract drops into your view.
There are some ways you can make some intelligent bid/no bid decisions, and also sharpen your proposal approaches. We recommend some free (elbow grease required) sources below:
- Free government sources
- Bureau of Labor Statistics – Includes cost of living tables, economic indicators, fringe and tax data. If you don’t study macro-economic trends, you could be missing the pulse of the market.
- DoL website – Also contains wage rate tables for Service Contract Act, by location. This can give you a good idea about how to modify and/or plan for benefits plans for nonexempt contracts. This can be a huge risk if not accounted for.
- GSA website – Includes various schedule rates and top-line data for companies, can be a good starting point to compare and contract. Sometimes the RFP requires you to bid in these ranges, so it’s good to have these as data points to triangulate your bid rates.
- Government funding/budget data
- Usaspending.gov – This website contains spending charts where you may find very useful trend information. It’s a good research site.
- Federal Procurement Data System – fpds.gov – direct source to get previous contract funding/obligation data, by company, by contract. This can be very useful to obtain trends and do some back of the envelope analysis.
- FBO.gov – may contain past government contract info, interested vendors, industry day info, etc.
- Industry Days – These are potential opportunities to attend in person or dial in. Ideal for intelligence gathering.
- Small Business Administration – sba.gov. This website contains some good information on how to gather competitive data and has a few tools to help gather free research.
- General Websites
- Glassdoor – employee reviews, can indicate benefits across companies, morale, contract headcount, job descriptions.
- LinkedIn – resume descriptions, contract sites, recruiting notes
- Corporate websites – often post job listings and sometimes provide benefits info. Read the annual reports for public companies; you can see trends within the financial reports and project out a feasible G&A rate for most of these companies.
Data gathering may be snore-inducing for some, but we have the connections to those who thrive on this type of hunting and pecking. If you would like an introduction or a roadmap to your best strategies for data capture, email BOOST. [email protected]