Top 5 Dorset Tender & Bid Tips

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Top five tender & bid tips …

These top 5 Dorset tender and bid tips won’t tell you how to write a bid, but it will give you tips to prepare for it.

If you’re running a growing organisation in Dorset, you might want to try to get contracts or grants to develop your company, make more money and improve your offering to your customers.

Think of the five tender and bid tips below like a cheat sheet to save you time, because time is the one thing you probably don’t have much of.

1) Know where to find the tenders and bid opportunities

When it comes to local government tenders, the county of Dorset has Dorset Council and BCP Council (unitary authorities), many town councils and parish councils, all with the ability to issue their own tenders seeking businesses to fulfil a contract for them. This means that there are a number of contract opportunity portals, but the three below capture most local government tenders.

  • Supplying the South West – is the ProContract (Proactis) procurement portal used by Dorset Council and BCP Council to advertise their contract opportunities. As the name suggests, other South West councils and organisations advertise on this portal.
  • Find a Tender Service – Tenders and contract opportunities above £138,760, including VAT, have to be advertised on the government’s ‘Find a Tender’ service.
  • Contracts Finder – lets you search for information about contracts worth over £12,000 (including VAT) with the government and its agencies.

You can create an account to get email updates and save your searches.

2) Don’t go in cold

In the world of tenders and contracts it will be about who you know, not just what you know. Customers will rarely, if ever, pick a company they don’t know through a tender process. A step before bidding is to get to know your customer.

Do Your Research: Conduct research on the client and their business. Get to know them through face-to-face meetings, presentation opportunities or through networking events. Learn about their biggest pain points, what’s keeping them awake at night and decide whether what you are offering fits their needs.

This will give you a good understanding of the customer and the project once it is tendered, and help you tailor your bid proposal to their specific needs.

3) Know your competitors

In business, competition is a constant theme. You will almost always have at least one, and your response to a tender will depend on how much competition you expect. Before spending a lot of time writing a bid proposal it’s worth asking

  • Who is the incumbent (i.e. the company that currently holds the contract)?
  • Does the incumbent have a competitive advantage for this opportunity?
  • Has the customer benefited from the incumbent’s work?

If the answer is no to the last two questions you can go to the next step. Ask whether there are any other competitors who will go for this opportunity, whether they have a competitive advantage over you and whether the customer has benefited from working with them before.

If the answer to these questions is no then the final question will be whether you have capacity to bid / implement and whether it is a higher priority than other projects you already have.

4) Understand the Requirements

If you decide to tender the first and most crucial step is to read and understand the requirements of the bid. This will help you identify what the client wants and what they are looking for in their project.

The bid or tender can be described in different terms depending on what the customer wants:

  • Request for Information (RFI) – where a customer has an idea what it needs but looks for potential solutions from qualified suppliers. A request for information may lead to an RFQ or RFP below.
  • Request for Quote (RFQ) – where a customer knows what it wants but seeks information about how a supplier would deliver the solution and how much it will cost.
  • Request for Proposal (RFP) or Invitation to Tender (ITT) – where a customer doesn’t know exactly how to solve the problem but supplies detailed information so that suppliers can offer viable solutions.

There may be many appendices to the tender. From the standard terms and conditions through to a detailed solution guidance document, they are all there to help you. Read them all carefully to understand whether a) you are eligible and b) whether you can really offer a solution.

Many tenders will be accompanied by the opportunity to attend a webinar to learn more from the organisation itself. This will be the best use of your time, as they will be clarifying what they do want, but also what they don’t want.

They will almost always send you the presentation slides afterwards, so it is best to concentrate in the webinar on what they are saying. What language are they using and what subliminal messages are they giving out in their talking? Listen carefully and they will be giving out hints throughout.

If you sign up beforehand they may even give you the choice of receiving the presentation AND the webinar recording afterwards, meaning you can watch the webinar at your leisure.

5) Join forces with larger companies

Higher value tenders are often aimed at larger companies with contract history and reputational standing, or to consortia (an association of several companies pooling resources). Tender frameworks are often used to identify a lead company for a service, who will then sub-contract or manage named sub-contractors for smaller projects and jobs. In defence these larger companies are called ‘primes’, contracted to identify, assess, mentor, advocate and award contracts to small business.

So, if you are a smaller company, know you can add value to a larger company’s activities and/or would like to be considered as a sub-contractor, it is worth identifying these larger ‘primes’ in your sector.

An easy way is to go on the ‘Find a Tender’ Service in point 1 above, enter a contract search term you would love to win, and then click on ‘Awarded Contract’ to see who won those types of contracts.

Another option is to join a framework association that brings together companies in certain sectors such as construction or housing services, for example, the South West Procurement Alliance.

Alternatively join a Dorset sector cluster and get to know those larger companies personally in order to join forces with them, such as:

If you would like help with any of these pre-bidding activities, from analysing competitors to identifying collaborators, then please do not hesitate to contact us at, email us at: or call us on 07745 525727

The top 5 Dorset tender and bid tips for organisations to develop their company, make more money and improve their offering to customers.


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