With summer here, we are reminded that the federal fourth quarter buying season is upon us.
September 30 marks the end of the federal government’s 2007 fiscal year (FY) and federal contractors should take steps to obtain as much of the year end money as possible. For those companies whose commercial sales may lag in the summer months this can be the perfect time to focus on federal sales.
Though government agencies have gotten better at planning and spreading spending over all four quarters, the fourth quarter of FY 2006 was the highest grossing for GSA contractors. In fact, the amount spent through GSA Schedules was almost 15% higher in Q4 than the Q3. That amounts to over $1.1 billion more spent in Q4. The reason for the spike in sales is simple: Federal agencies continue to have the need to spend the rest of their budgets in order to risk the loss of existing funds or the future downsizing of their budgets.
One of the greatest challenges for agencies associated with spending Q4 funds is that the procurement process must be simple and fast. During this time agencies are looking to existing contracts, GWACs and BPAs, in order to facilitate the quick purchase. For this reason, the GSA Multiple Award Schedules are always a likely candidate. The GSA Schedule contract vehicle can cut down the procurement process considerably and is fairly easy for agencies to use.
So, what should you do to increase your GSA Schedule 4th quarter sales?
Tip 1: Start Early. Many Agencies start their planning prior to September, so start gearing up your marketing campaign now to avoid the end of the year rush and panic. Use the summer months to work closely with staff to create proactive marketing plans to ensure that you have appropriately marketed your services/products in such a way that the government will seriously consider your company when determining final spending decisions.
Tip 2: Keep your GSA contract current and compliant. It is imperative that your GSA Schedule is up-to-date with all of the services/products that you offer. Make sure that new services/ products are added, old ones are deleted and that you have applied for your appropriate annual price escalations. Out-of-date products and pricing will make it difficult for both you and your customers.
Tip 3: Make sure you are registered on GSA Advantage! and E-Buy. In order for government agencies to find contractors that have the services/products they wish to purchase in Q4 they may look to the online ordering systems set up by GSA. It is crucial to have your current pricelist loaded on GSA Advantage! for viewing and searches. It is also necessary to be registered with E-Buy in order to see all possible RFQs released via the GSA Schedule that you hold.
Tip 4: Contact current and past clients. A primary part of your proactive marketing plan should be getting in contact with current and past clients to find out if they have year end money and requirements for which you are qualified. Repeat clients account for much of Q4 money spent. It is faster to sell to a customer who is familiar with your products/work than it is to find and convince new customers of your value.
Tip 5: Offer promotions to GSA Schedule users. Although the purchases off a GSA Schedule can be made using “best value” justification rather than a best price, government purchasers are always going to be concerned with the bottom line. For GSA Schedule product holders, Q4 is a great time of year to run year end promotions or discounts to encourage agencies to spend their money with you.
Tip 6: Be mindful of the micro-purchase threshold sales. Purchases under the $2,500 micro-purchase threshold are the easiest for federal buyers to make. Be sure you have the ability to accept the government purchase card in order to close orders that are below the micro-purchase threshold and even the $100,000 Simplified Acquisition Threshold. Credit cards purchases under these thresholds can be accomplished with far less paperwork and administration.
Tip 7: Don’t be afraid to start small. Some agencies during Q4 may only have a minimal amount of cash left to spend on projects smaller than you may be used to. Don’t walk away from business because it seems too small. This can be a great way to gain entrance for your company to a particular agency or office with which you have not previously worked. In this way you position yourself for larger contracts in the future
As is always the case with your GSA contract, you should be vigilant; making sure your contract and marketing efforts are up-to-date. But now more than ever, you and your team should take the steps to be sure you are fully prepared for the coming fall harvest in Q4 of FY 2007.
Additional Benefits for Veterans
Veteran and service-disabled veteran owned
businesses get additional contracting
support with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In an exciting development, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has revised their procurement procedures to increase sourcing to small, veteran-owned businesses.
The VA has announced that when Public Law 109-461 took effect on June 20, 2007, VA procurements will be awarded according to the following sourcing priority:
- Service-disabled small veteran-owned businesses (SDVOB)
- Small veteran-owned businesses (VOSB)
- 8(a) certified businesses
- HUBZone-certified businesses
- Small businesses
- All other businesses
This means that your business can get more value from your set-aside certifications when selling to the VA. If you already work with the VA, you can expand your revenue from your existing contracting business with these new regulations. And, if your veteran-owned business has no contracts with the VA, then this new legislation is an ideal opportunity to utilize your set-aside status and your excellent past performance to gain entry to VA business opportunities.
According to the VA’s Center for Veterans Enterprise, even more compelling benefits, including expanded sole-sourcing opportunities, await veteran-owned businesses under the new legislation. Other changes to procurement procedures now allow the VA to:
- Direct source to a SDVOB/VOSB below the Simplified Acquisition Threshold (SAT) to eligible firms.
- Use SDVOB/VOSB Competitive Set-Asides above the SAT if:
- There is a reasonable expectation of two or more offers; and
- CO determines Price is Fair and Reasonable.
- Direct source to a SDVOB/VOSB above the SAT if:
- Source is Responsible & Eligible;
- Award does not exceed $5 Million, and
- CO determines Price is Fair and Reasonable.
Utilizing your set-aside status and the advantages of this new legislation offers your company an unprecedented chance to grow your federal government business at the VA.