Preparing for an Approved GSA Contract
Within a month or two of a GSA applicant starting the application process, the firm should also be strategically thinking ahead to what they will do once they obtain their Schedule.
New GSA Schedule Holders need to realize that one size, one strategy does meet the needs of most federal small businesses and therefore need to make adjustments to their strategy as they work through the federal sales process. Some small businesses will have an easy time breaking into the federal market, while it will be slightly more challenging for others. With that said, the average GSA Schedule Holder has over $1MM per year in revenue, so chances are good that your GSA Schedule will lead to positive ROI.
In order to assess your firm’s strength before you enter the program, you should look at the following five factors which will determine your success:
2. Geographic Location
3. Past Government Experience and Federal Contacts
4. Size of the Firm when Obtaining your GSA Schedule
Over the years I have worked with many firms that have lacked the first four factors, and I wasn’t even too sure about the fifth “luck” factor for them. But with some good federal analysis, some initiative and the ability to listen, we were able to put some “lipstick on those pigs” and get them federal sales. (I say that endearingly.)
Some of the helpful GSA marketing tips I go through with my clients.
1. Industry – These are the averages by Schedule. It is wise to set your expectation/goals to hitting this average within 2-3 years of having obtained your GSA Schedule.
|GSA Industry||Small Business Sales from a GSA Schedule Contract||# of Small Businesses on GSA in this Industry||Average Small Business GSA Sales|
|Clothing, Textiles & Subsistence S&E||288,440,632||327||882,081|
|Electronic & Communication Equipment||29,501,090||63||468,271|
|Equipment Related Services||12,303,992||40||307,600|
|Facilities & Construction||520,452,716||1,046||497,565|
|Industrial Product & Services||1,099,988,998||998||1,102,193|
|Security and Protection||259,544,288||283||917,118|
|Transportation and Logistics Services||672,686,172||510||1,318,992|
|Travel & Lodging||191,970,492||80||2,399,631|
|Weapons and Ammunition||380,204||1||380,204|
|GSA Schedule Industry Average||13,535,093,901||11,954||1,132,265|
2. Geography – I believe I have had successful clients from all 50 state. Firms located in the DC Beltway do have a natural advantage because of the high level of federal contracting that take place in their backyard. However as you can see from the map below sales occur across the US. With that said if you are in a highly specialized field make sure there is a federal buyer in your target area or meeting your sales targets will be unlikely.
GSA Small Business Sales Continental USA
3. Past Government Experience – New federal vendors enter and exit the federal marketplace all the time. What many regard as one of the hassles of the GSA Schedule System is having the GSA check business references for positive past performance. This makes federal buyers far more comfortable when purchasing from a vendor without past federal experience as they know the GSA has performed a vetting on the vendor.
For strong growth it is recommended that on larger contracts that small businesses communicate with federal end users several times throughout the contract process to make sure the government is pleased with the vendors performance. This will lead to stronger performance ratings which can be a catalyst for future sales with that agency as well as other agencies.
4. Generally speaking the larger the firm the greater the capabilities, and the more time and energy that can be spent focused on federal contracting. With that said I have seen many small firms walk away with very large contracts.
If you obtain a GSA Schedule but you feel your firm is still a little bit too small, you can leverage your GSA Schedule to sign up with major federal prime contractors. Using your GSA Schedule will make utilizing your firm as a subcontractor easier for the prime. This eliminates the audit requirements for sales to your firm. This makes obtaining federal subcontracts with a large prime, is a great way to achieve past performance while increasing the size and capabilities of your firm. Remember $135B annual small business federal prime contracts, $75B annual small business federal subcontracting. Subcontracting is a very large pool to play in.
Obtaining success with your GSA Schedule is more than just submitting an application. A comprehensive GSA Strategy is needed to be formulated before a firm enters the Schedule System.