Is this tender worth my while?

(19 Posts)
WilsonFrickett Thu 22-Nov-12 20:26:04

I'm a freelance copywriter and ages ago I signed up to the Scottish govt/LA tendering portal. I haven't pitched for anything so far - due to either lack of fit with my skills or scope of the project.

Anyway, a job has come up on the portal for 'creative content writing' which I'm interpreting as copywriting. Not a huge contract so all sounding good so far.

The tender process involves filling out a questionnaire which will be scored, the top 6 scorers will then go through to another pitching thing (all very X Factor) and it definitely says Sole Traders are eligible to tender. But all the scoring seems weighted against soles or freelancers. For example, you get points for having bank refs (something I've never needed as a sole trader), points for the number of people you employ (that'll be none), points for having an equality and Health and Safety policy.

I should just forget about it, shouldn't I? A formal company is going to score waaaay more points - even though the points process isn't focused on skills or experience?

TalkinPeace2 Fri 23-Nov-12 16:27:02

Personally I'd give them a call and ask why, under Localism guidance, they are discriminating against small businesses.
It may be because they are concerned that a sole trader would let them down where a team would not (erroneously IMHO)

WilsonFrickett Fri 23-Nov-12 18:30:56

Thanks Talk, I put up a question on the site (you're not allowed to contact people directly) and it seems that irrelevant questions will be disregarded rather than marked down. I directly asked if they felt the process would discriminate against freelancers and they said it wasn't designed to, and they felt that the contract size would put the big shops off. So I'm going to give it a go. Nothing ventured and all that smile

TalkinPeace2 Fri 23-Nov-12 18:51:06

Go for it.
Interested to know how you do.

DH did some work for the now abolished Teaching Development Agency.
They wanted him to jump through dozens of hoops and reams of paperwork.
He let the process run until they were committed and then just said NO
NO written policies that you will just file anyway
NO risk assessment over and above what is normally done
NO continuity policy - as the work is billed on completion
NO questionnaire about us - read the bloody website you used to find us ....
and they just rolled over and the event went really well

MrsMargoLeadbetter Mon 26-Nov-12 10:30:10

Wilson think you have decided to anyway, but I'd give it a go. I am sure they are right that if it is a relatively small job then the larger players won't bother.

Once you are "in" it could leave to other stuff, so it is worth giving it ago.

I did have a search to see if there are any schemes that provide support for small businesses with tendering but nothing obvious came up. I know that the FSB has previously campaigned on the topic, but not sure there is much practical help out there.

It could be worth trying to contact other small traders who are on their list?

Good luck and let us know how it goes.

WilsonFrickett Mon 26-Nov-12 13:06:58

Will do. They don't have a list as such - or at least, it's not publicised. And the way the spec is written I'm not sure they really understand copywriting. But heigh ho, will have a go grin

twoterrors Mon 26-Nov-12 14:44:47

Mmmm, I did similar but for England. Can't remember who but was under the guise of more govt money should go to small /medium sized businesses. I stopped reading the emails as we clearly meant different things by a small business. Siix months later a friendly man rang to ask how I was getting on and sounded politely uninterested when I started to explain that the way the whole thing was pitched and framed made it very hard for a sole trader to show off what they did, rather than appear as a pale and rather inefficient imitation of a small company.

My strength is my size, I can provide really good value for money, respond very quickly and flexibly to clients, and cater for their particular needs, learn on the job as needed, and so on. The thought of having to write a risk assessment for what happens if my laptop gets stolen just makes me feel weak (even though I suspect I am reasonably well set up for that). My work often involves nothing confidential at all - so why do I need detailed policies on data security?

Also, the time taken to complete these things when the chances are tiny makes it hard when you are a one-woman show.

I'd be interested to know how you get on, OP, and if others have had any success.

WilsonFrickett Mon 26-Nov-12 16:37:08

That was exactly my first impression of it two - it's an advantage that I don't need all these policies and procedures (after all, if someone's spending time doing that sort of thing, the costs have to be passed on somewhere). But I'll have a go and post back.

DolomitesDonkey Thu 29-Nov-12 11:11:59

This annoys the crap out of me, a lot of these are really small contracts and often in the small print you'll find that these certificates are just "copy & paste" jobs or standard templates if you run a small <10 employees business. AND they say they promote equality i.e., micro-business and women - and then yes, they ask for 3 year's worth of bank statements.

How the hell are start-ups supposed to get a foot in the door?

I saw a public sector contract earlier this year that I thought I'd be able to deliver (with help) - of course there was no way I was going to satisfy their criteria and in the end it went to A4E... who are not exactly known for their competence!

WilsonFrickett Thu 29-Nov-12 11:14:18

Yep, it's a tiny contract, that was also mentioned in the response that they think the net worth of the contract would stop big firms applying. Because they're awash with work in the creative industries right now, clearly hmm

DolomitesDonkey Thu 29-Nov-12 17:15:43

I applied to be invited to tender for something yesterday, never expected to get the call to apply, nonetheless they have. So I shall hammer out a proposal and submit a ludicrous fee.

twoterrors Thu 29-Nov-12 17:24:20

Go for it Dolomites - after all, you'll have to pay for all that unnecessary infrastructure with your profits smile

I can't tell you how pleased I am that others feel the same. I thought I might be being a wimp. The man who rang me said they go up to 50 employees or something - so that's 100 times me (part time work).

In my field, lots of companies have set up employing people like me (and creaming off most of the money ) - but I like the personal touch and being able to try new things without a load of faff. My clients like it oo - but it makes it hard to find new ones in today's world.

Corygal Tue 11-Dec-12 13:31:07

Oooh! Ohh! I've done tenders like this for my ex-firm - we got the jobs, usually.

First things first:

1. Tenders are a hell of lot of work - see a hoop and you HAVE to jump through it. Policies? You need them all.
2. I have never, never, heard of a sole trader getting one of these jobs.
3. They usually go to Serco who subcontract them out. Or a consortium of small businesses (rare) who tender as 4 or 5 firms in one doc.
4. Have you done any govt work before? If not, don't bother, because you will need proven experience to include.

In theory, the govt is supposed to award a third of its work to small business. But small businesses can employ anything up to 250 people. Even so that target is not met.

Corygal Tue 11-Dec-12 13:36:25

I've been on a committee (BIS) with the guy from the FSB who did that campaign. No response whatsoever from the govt.

Oh, and Serco and A4E will already have been invited to tender, along with three or four other firms who will have been asked to make up the numbers before the big boy gets it.

Serco and A4E will probably have been hired to write the tender, too.

WeWilsonAMerryChristmas Wed 12-Dec-12 21:29:51

Are Serco and A4E going for small-scale copywriting work now? <doomed emoticon>

WilsonFrickett Fri 25-Jan-13 09:36:22

Just to update, I didn't get it. Will ask for feedback.

WilsonFrickett Fri 25-Jan-13 10:38:25

Scrap that, I did get into the next stage! But the letter was completely unintelligible - they clearly need a copywriter wink

Stand by for second stage tender questions!

Tee2072 Fri 25-Jan-13 10:41:02

Excellent! Gives hope to us all!

MrsMargoLeadbetter Fri 25-Jan-13 18:00:20

Great news Wilson!!! Fingers crossed.

Thanks for the update.

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