How exactly to Research Your Government Contracting Competition

Here are a few smart methods to find out who’s selling in your space and the type of money they’re generating from their authorities contracts.

Research is an essential component when entering any market. How and where you do it in the vast government market seems daunting to many, nonetheless it isn’t that difficult in case you have a few good tools. In this post, I’ll show you some of the best web tools.

Google comes with an excellent government search tool called U.S. Government Search. This tool can help you track down a huge amount of information which can help you decide whether you should enter the U.S. government market. If your decision is yes, the Google tool remains an ally for the reason that it can benefit you locate information on your own competition, prospective buying activities and more.

THE OVERALL Services Administration (GSA) schedule will be the most popular contracts for selling to the government. A lot more than 40 percent of most purchases occur through these contracts–total sales for fiscal year 2005 were $35 billion–but GSA schedules only represent 15 percent of the quantity the federal government spends annually. (So when you’re speaking in the a huge selection of vast amounts of dollars, this ain’t chump change!) If you are trying to determine who’s selling what in your category, the GSA schedules certainly are a great barometer.

Where do you begin? First, here’s the Google link:

To be able to determine which GSA schedule your products are on, type "schedules e-library" in the search line (and leave it in quotes). The first result, the GSA "Schedules e-Library," is where you intend to go.

Simply clicking this link will need you to an introductory page, where you will need to click on the "VISIT THIS SITE NOW" link, visible on the upper right.

Now you’re at the e-Library. Search for your service or product category in the "Category Guide." Unless you see the service or product you sell there, then utilize the search function to attempt to track down the info. To be able to walk you through the procedure, let’s search for "dispute resolution" services and see what we find.

Type what "dispute resolution" in quotes in the search line, and leave the search criteria as "all of the words." As the federal government often uses different phrasing than common business practice does, the search will continue to work better for you in this manner than simply clicking "exact phrase." Now click on the "Search" button and await your outcomes.

Inside our example, "dispute resolution" turns up in two GSA categories. The "source" number on the left may be the code for the GSA schedule, and because of this, we get "738 X" and "00CORP." In the schedules, there are subsets of categories (SINs, or Special Item Numbers).

Go through the appropriate SIN number, and you will visit a page that lists all contract holders that sell this service. So for 738 X, SIN 595 13, you will see eight companies that sell this dispute resolution services. Schedule 738 X looks to be exclusively for dispute resolution, instead of the 00CORP Schedule, which lists dispute resolution as you of several services. For our purposes, we’ll limit our research to Schedule 738 X.

Once you go through the SIN (595 13), you can select each one of the vendors to obtain the GSA Contract number of this vendor along with their address, contact number and web address. You will also often get yourself a company contact name. The results also list all of the GSA schedules awarded to the vendor, so you might find other categories that pique your interest. I usually click on through to the vendor’s website to see if they are highlighting the fact they have a government contract. This will indicate the amount of sophistication of the vendor–the less "government friendly" the website is, the not as likely it is they’re a significant competitor.

So given that you know who your competition are, what’s next?

Just about the most useful tools There is on any government website may be the Schedule Sales Query tool on the overall Services Administration website. This tool permits you to regulate how much money passes through each GSA schedule (or SIN) and the full total dollar amount by vendor.

So let’s visit the Schedule Sales Query site and migrate through the maze.

First, in the left-hand navigation, click "Create Report." This will need you to a non-mandatory registration page. Click "Proceed" without completing your information. This goes to the "Report Generation" page.

In the event that you know very well what company you want information on, you can examine item 6 ("Total for All Quarters by Contractor for Fiscal Year") and click "Generate Report." This will need you to a screen which allows you to choose a fiscal year. Pick the fiscal year you want and double-click onto it. This will provide you with total dollars for every vendor, nonetheless it doesn’t break it down where schedule they made the amount of money on.

If you wish to observe how much money passed through a particular SIN–and just how much each contractor manufactured in that SIN–go back again to Step two 2, the "Report Generation" page and choose item 11. This will need you to a full page that allows you to choose a fiscal year. (I focus on the last complete fiscal year, as companies report at differing times, so running the existing year could be a little misleading.) Because of this example, choose 2005.

Next, visit the SIN# line, scroll right down to "595 13," then click "Check out Step three 3."

Quickly review your selection criteria as presented on the "Report Information" screen, and whether it’s correct, click "Check out the ultimate Step." Whether it’s not correct, go back to the prior page and correct your selection.

Once you have clicked "Check out the ultimate Step" and a "File Download" box appears on your own screen, click "Open." The report results will appear. Here we see that unlike the Schedule e-Library page, there are 36 vendors listed. Twenty of the vendors made $0, nine made significantly less than $10,000, three made a lot more than $10,000 but significantly less than $100,000, and four vendors made a lot more than $100,000. Only 1 made a lot more than $1,000,000.

To see what the SIN total was, go back to the "Report Generation" screen (in second step of this process) and choose item 3. Click on through to your fiscal year and run the report.

Our seek out SIN 595 13 shows sales by quarter of $321,005, $233,685, $278,333 and $461,036 respectively for fiscal year 2005. Viewers the last quarter of a federal fiscal year is nearly always larger that the other previous quarters, because it is the "spend it or lose it" quarter. Because the total because of this SIN is $1,294,059, it would appear that one company-the one which made a lot more than $1,000,000 in 2005, truly dominates the category. Out of this information, we have an excellent notion of the competitive landscape.

Spend plenty of time hunting around, and you will see precisely how vast the GSA Schedule offerings are. On a quarter-by-quarter basis, there are a lot more than 10,400 listings of SINs and a lot more than 2,600 product classifications represented on all GSA schedules. And with that lots of sales possibilities, almost always there is room for just one more company hungry to accomplish business with THE GOVERNMENT.

Mark Amtower may be the founding partner of Amtower & Co. in Highland, Maryland, a government contracting consulting firm. Since 1985, Amtower been helping companies begin and maximize marketshare in the federal market.

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