The JetCo team is a tad obsessed with process improvement lately.
We have a lot of confidence in how we manage the entire bid life cycle, from capture through proposal submission. Based on our conversion rate, our system works.
We think that a stagnant system eventually fails. For this reason, we worked with an outside expert to evaluate our “as is” and develop a new “to be.” Yesterday, Nancy Boese of the MI-SBTDC walked us through a loooooong review of our process to identify additional tools, communication or decision points, and task ownership changes. Our team was free of electronic devices during the session, leaving focused minds contributing to the discussion. It was incredibly successful and we left the session excited, caffeinated and grateful for Nancy’s efforts.
One thing that Nancy mentioned during the session resonated for me. She mentioned that in order for this process to work with MI-SBTDC clients, their audience must be coachable.
The reason this hit home? We have the same philosophy with clients, but we don’t word it as nicely as Nancy did. JetCo clients are not whiners. This is intentional. We weed out whiners in the prospecting cycle, leaving us with clients that listen to our recommendations and remain focused on ROI of government sales. We learned this from experience. Some of our early clients had ideological rants about what government should or should not spend money on, and about bids being handled inappropriately.
Nancy said it nicer. “The client must be coachable” for their efforts to be successful. I still like the “No Whiners” sign hanging in our office. (Seriously. It’s there.)
If you are a small business owner in Michigan and are interested in the free consulting services available through the MI-SBTDC, visit www.misbtdc.org and make contact. They help companies in all stage of the business cycle, including both start-ups and growth companies like ours.
The idea of selling to government might be something you’ve thought about from time to time. Or, maybe you have decided you want to tackle the government market but still feel overwhelmed, and maybe even a little doubtful, about the prospect. That would be understandable, considering the size of the marketplace. There are hundreds of agencies, departments, and bureaus within the federal government alone, and it can be surprising to learn which ones buy what you sell.
A basic first step in deciding whether to sell to government is research. Business-to-Government (B2G) market research can shed light on some of your questions: Does government buy what we sell? Which governments should we target (federal, state, local)? Should we include school districts, colleges and universities in our plans?
One of our previous blogs mentioned that government contracting officers work in a fishbowl. This type of transparency also provides many tools to use in performing B2G market research. When I do research, I utilize these tools to learn which government agencies to target. I learn which contracting officers work with the agencies on these procurements. I run data for multiple years and learn about the competition – which are the top vendors, are there any new or emerging companies? I run bid searches to learn about any current or recent procurement activity. I determine the appropriate procurement codes and commodity/service categories to target.
B2G market research can take you in many different directions. Putting in the effort on the front end can be the key to making the right decision about whether or not to sell to government and can lead to success if the decision is pursue government as a customer. It also can be time-consuming and difficult to accomplish with limited resources. We can help!
Amid all the lunacy and frustration surrounding federal budgets, the near-miss with the fiscal cliff and looming sequestration, there is a very bright spot, even a miracle, as one observer called it, in regards to opportunities for government contractors owned by women.
The federal government has all types of purchasing plans that allow people access to lucrative public sector contracts. There are set asides for native Alaskans and the array of Minority Business Enterprises, for veterans, for businesses operated in economically depressed areas and for businesses owned by people who qualify as socially disadvantaged.
In 2011, Women small business owners also were given a preference (after more than 11 years of fighting, lobbying and negotiating). Yet, the preferences offered our women CEOs failed to mirror all the opportunities provided for other under-represented groups.
But last month a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act lifted caps on WOSB set-asides, previously set at a maximum of $4 million for most goods and services, and $6.5 million for manufacturing awards.
Why? Suffice to say the caps must have been for some illogical reason that weaves its way back through history, the suffrage movement and beyond.
And change is something Barbara Kasoff, president of Women Impacting Public Policy, called a “miracle.”
“This is a very important step toward bridging the gap for women entrepreneurs who wish to do business with the world’s largest customer – the federal government,” the head of the national non-partisan public policy organization said. “We would like to thank Senators Olympia Snow (R-ME) and Mary L. Landrieu (D-LA) for their commitment to building a better partnership between government and the women-owned small business community.”
So, while uncertainty abounds, it’s important to understand where progress is being made and that plenty of opportunity continues to exist for small business.
Lourdes Martin-Rosa is a government contracting adviser at American Express OPEN. She is optimistic about the future of small contractors, woman owned and otherwise.
“Regardless of sequestration, the federal government has to function,” Martin-Rosa was quoted as saying in a recent Newsweek piece. “And it’s the largest purchaser of goods and services in the world.”
So, women, minorities, veterans and other preferred customers of the federal government, don’t fret. Just update your SAM profile and get bidding!
We’ve had an outpouring of support for our wish list drive… we anticipate gathering a huge quantity of items for the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans. Today, we feel overwhelming gratitude that our community cares so deeply for local veterans. It feels great to see our clients, partners, friends and complete strangers rally around a common goal to help retired men and women that bravely served.
Jon and I are also elated and thankful that our team is so engaged and enthusiastic. Patrick, Ashley, Penny, Josh and Karen were amazing hosts for our kickoff party last night. The services our team provides to clients is all about the people providing it, and we are humbled and honored to be surrounded by such great minds and great people.
Braggy and sappy, but true.
JetCo Solutions is organizing the Veterans Wish List Drive, a benefit for the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.
For those who want to be contributors, your part is as simple as buying and donating a pack of batteries or a collection of socks (see Wish List and drop site locations below). To get the collection stations started off, our co-sponsors can buy a couple of items, and then make sure employees, friends and family understand that they can contribute as well. When it’s all added up, it will mean a lot to our veterans of the United States Armed Forces.
Collections will continue through the month of October, and co-sponsors can accompany us to the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans when we deliver the goods on Nov. 7, just prior to Veterans Day. We would love to make a big splash with this, and the more of you we have involved the more productive and fun it will be!
Please contact Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org or (616) 570-0067 to ask questions. Thank you!
Below is a categorized list of needs:
- New batteries: C, D and AAA (Alkaline)
- New release DVD’s (No Blue-Ray capability)
- Gift cards to: Meijer, Gordon Food Service, Burger King, McDonalds, Wendy’s
- New postage stamps (prefer Forever Stamp) for letters and postcards
- Bic disposable lighters
- Large print paperback books
- Recent magazines (Published within last 6 months)
New clothing (original package)
- New men’s and women’s underwear; all types & sizes
- T-shirts & sweat shirts: all sizes, small to XXX large
- Sweat pants: all sizes, small to XXX large
- Button-Down Shirts: all sizes, small to XXX large
- Men’s jeans and casual pants Size 40 and larger
- New socks (regular or diabetic, any color)
- New tennis shoes with Velcro closing and new shoe laces: white, black or brown
New, unopened personal care items
- Men’s body wash
- Aftershave and pre-electric shave, cologne
- Body lotion
- Power Stick body spray
- Mouthwash (alcohol free)
- New three-headed electric razors and replacement heads
- Individually wrapped miniature and full size candy bars
- Individually wrapped chips
- Crystal Light powdered drink mix, individual serving size
Small electronics (extreme need to replace decade-old models)
- Digital cameras (Looking for quantity of six Nikon COOLPIX S6300 Black 16 Megapixel Digital Camera – 26301, approximately $170 each)
- GPS devices (Looking for quantity of three TomTom GO Live 1535M dash-mount GPS units, approximately $200 each)
- Used-refurbished laptop computers, netbooks, tablets
Drop site locations
- 2/90 Sign Systems – 5350 Corporate Grove Boulevard SE, Grand Rapids
- 834 Design & Marketing, 560 Fifth Street NW, Suite 205, Grand Rapids
- DK Security – 5160 Falcon View Avenue SE Kentwood
- i3 Solutions – 560 Fifth Street NW, Suite 404, Grand Rapids
- Ingenuity IEQ – 3600 Centennial Drive, Midland
- JetCo Solutions – 560 Fifth Street NW Suite 303, Grand Rapids
- Light Corporation – 14800 172nd Avenue, Grand Haven
- Pratt Industries –2000 Beverly Avenue Southwest Wyoming
- Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge, 100 Monroe Center NW, Grand Rapids
- The Studio Yoga – 933 52nd Street SE, Kentwood
- Swift Printing – 404 Bridge Street, NW, Grand Rapids
- Tradewinds Credit Union – 4555 West River Drive NE, Plainfield Township
- Wells Fargo – 50 Monroe Avenue NW, Suite 400