Win Public Sector Contracts in a Covid-19 World

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  Posted by: electime      22nd September 2020

When the economy is in turmoil, it’s tempting to seek out the comfort of the Public Sector for contracts. The Public Sector has to chug along in a crisis, it won’t go bust and leave you chasing it for money and usually pays contracts within 30 days. That is the type of paymaster SMEs in the electrical and mechanical sector need in times like these.

As the pandemic continues to move through its cycle, we face the additional pressure of a recession. It is the norm for governments to stimulate the market during economic downturns with increased tendering of contracts in the public sector – these may come from local authorities, housing associations, MOD, the NHS etc. This injection of activity into the market represents strong opportunities for those companies who are ready and prepared for tendering. Substantial business is there for the winning, but you need to know where to look and how to play it. Here, Peter Hamilton, director of Tender Experts, provides some useful tips to improve your chances of success.

Now we are eight months into the pandemic, many companies are re-evaluating the make-up of their client base. The furlough scheme impacted many electrical businesses as companies discovered their commercial clients suddenly evaporated and pulled down the hatches. This is not what anyone could have expected or wanted.

However, during the entire coronavirus pandemic, including lockdown, The Public Sector has continued to work and continued to issue tenders for projects. See below a few examples of electrical contract notices recently published:

Cornwall Council published a framework for solar installation on 4 September with a value of £40,000 000.00 GBP. The framework contract is for the supply and installation of solar panels across five lots with an additional lot for a consultant to carry out post installation checks.

The Gentoo Groupin Sunderland published a contract notice on 25 August for a national framework agreement for the provision of highway electrical connections on Distribution Network Operator (DNO) and Independent Distribution Network Operator (IDNO) networks and private cables. The framework will also cover minor installation works and fault finding on private cables. The contract value is £1,100 000.00 GBP.

ESPO published a contract notice on 2 September for a framework for street lighting services in Leicester valued at £14,000 000.00GBP

All these tender notices were found on To improve your chances of finding these notices, set yourself up with a free account and search for any of the following Common Procurement Vocabulary (CPV) codes.

It is advisable to restrict the notices to UK only. Do this by locating the country tab where you will find UK located under the ‘other’ category.

CPV Code        Description

09310000        Electricity

50232100        Street-lighting maintenance services

45310000        Electrical Installation Work

09332000        Solar installation

09300000       Electricity, heating, solar and nuclear energy

71314000       Energy and related services

71314100       Electrical services


Preparation checklist

If you intend to target Public Sector contracts, it is important to have a clear strategy in place in advance of any tenders being released.

  • Gather case studies of work you have completed within timescales and budget, and to the satisfaction of the client.
  • Obtain testimonials from happy customers – these send a powerful message to commissioners.
  • Have a forensic knowledge of your business and be able to clearly identify what separates you from your competition.
  • Be proactive and approach Local Authorities to query when tenders are to be released. Instigating dialogue with Local Authorities puts you on their radar and you are less likely to miss opportunities when released.
  • It is important you only bid for tenders that match your organisation’s capability and size.
  • Don’t apply for multiple tendersunless using a professional external writing company– it’s much better to focus on each one in turn.
  • Read all the documents thoroughly, especially the specifications and the ITTs so you don’t miss valuable detail. You can often find subtle hints in the instructions that give valuable context about why the tender has been published and what the local authority is doing to improve the area, as well as what they are looking for from their supplier network.
  • Research evaluation criteria in the documents so you know what they like/don’t like and the areas they score maximum points for.
  • Target your writing to add support to the local authority’s area strategy. It could be anything from recruiting locally, providing apprenticeships in the electrical sector, the use of community suppliers to keep the local pound local, that provides you with additional marks. It could be your unique approach to the environmental aspects of the bid – the answers to these questions will be found within the tender documents if you look for them.
  • Check the financials. If the tender value is more than 50 per cent of your turnover you may struggle to prove you have the financial and production capacity to handle this size of contract. Can you meet the terms of the contract, including the timescales? Don’t take on something you know you can’t deliver as you may preclude yourself from winning tenders from other authorities in the future.
  • If in doubt, it is normal practice to ask a clarification question. Reading through previous questions and responses from other companies can be illuminating and help you to better understand the authority’s direction and help you adapt your approach accordingly.


Method Statement methodology

Many tenders demand that you answer written questions – these are referred to as Method Statements. On considering the questions, make them more easily digestible by breaking the elements down into a series of sub-headings. This gives you a ‘roadmap’ to follow and also provides the evaluator with a clear and easy to navigate narrative. If they can easily read and understand your answers, they will be automatically better-disposed towards your submission. Keep your tone positive and write persuasively, providing examples and evidence to back up what you say. The public sector commissioner needs to know you are a ‘safe pair of hands’ that can be relied upon, before they award you the contract.

Do you have a Winter Covid-19 plan? 

Covid-19 has had an effect on procurement exercises in the areas of economic robustness, supply chain strategy and business continuity. Have your pandemic strategies comprehensively covered, or your bid will be weakened. Give the buyer confidence that you are ready and prepared for any second wave of the virus. Detail what you have learned about pandemic readiness from the first wave and explain how you will implement this to protect staff, customers and your business. Efficient supply chains are vital to your ability to deliver your service – we saw at the beginning of the virus crisis, supply chains crippled leading to disruption. Consider adding more suppliers to your network to reinforce the supply chain and reassure awarding authorities you can promise continuity of delivery. Check in frequently with suppliers and review their performance regularly to be sure they are maintaining their own supplies of raw materials and stock. Will they have what you need? How long will it take to get it? Delivering on the terms of the contract is paramount, so don’t be left red-faced by a lack of Covid-readiness. All businesses need a robust Winter Covid -19 plan that covers everything from risk assessments, to how to cope with staff shortages due to illness, dealing with supply chain interruptions and protecting your staff and your clients. Don’t overlook the need for PPE for staff. What will you need on-site and in the office? The safety of staff and those they may work amongst, must be factored into planning. Organisations with solid contingencies and a Winter plan to tackle Covid impact, will be viewed more positively by buyers, than businesses who don’t prepare.

The growing importance of Social Value

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, Social Value should have crossed your radar at some point. Social Value is a key component of most bids now and can count for between 5 per cent and 40 per cent of the overall quality score. A tender may be lost by 5 per cent, so be sure of your position on Social Value and be able to demonstrate the social value your bid will provide and how this will be achieved and evidenced. To learn more about Social Value visit this link to download a free social value toolkit from a Local Authority lead in Manchester.

An area Electrical Contractors have the opportunity to shine is in the promotion of sustainable practices and the use of innovative technologies, leading to energy efficiencies.  The legislation-backed target of Carbon Net Zero is quoted increasingly by commissioners, under pressure to build optimal environmental benefit into their buying decisions.

What do you need? The trio of success

Final takeaway: If you approach the preparation of your bid with the following three elements fully covered, you will be in a strong position:

  • You need persuasive arguments that demonstrate why you are the best.
  • You need to make this align with knowledge of the public sector’s procurement methodology.
  • You need evidence of your industry expertise that marks you out as different to your competitors.

The perfect combination of these three elements is what makes a compelling, and above all, successful tender.

Tender Experts has writing experts that support all types of businesses, including electrical and mechanical contractors to win tenders. Our comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the public sector enables us to advise companies on whether they should bid or not. If you already have a tender team, then use our external review and evaluation service. If not, then we will guide you on what you need to do and provide a quote for writing the tender on your behalf. Call Tender Experts 0115 896 3888 or email