How to Lose Your Next Tender (what NOT to do!!)

How to Lose Your Next Tender (what NOT to do!!)

Tender writing is difficult – there are no two ways about it. In addition to strong writing skills, tender writers also need tenacity, creativity, an ability to work under the constant pressure of deadlines and a bucket full of common sense. If tender writing is not hard enough already, there are many ways in which the chances of tender success can be easily scuppered. Here are 10 ways to destroy your chances of winning your next contract – please avoid at all costs! (References to and Woof-Dogbark Ltd. are fictional and for illustrative purposes only!).

1.     Ignore the question and write about something you wish they’d asked instead. Never mind about the complaint they want you to tell them about and the actions you took to resolve the problem and prevent something like that from happening again. ‘Complaint’ feels a bit like ‘feedback’ doesn’t it? So, just write about the wonderful letter you received from Dorothy regarding the excellent care you provided to her cat while she was in hospital. Don’t forget to mention the flowers she dropped off following her hospital discharge and how grateful she was. You’ll be alright. The evaluators probably don’t know the difference between a complaint and positive feedback anyway.

2.     Provide lazy answers. For example, write a 300 word response to a question which has a 2,000 word limit. Alternatively write “See attached” and provide your standard marketing brochure to answer a question about your organisation’s experience. No problem – job done in a fraction of the time.

3.     Disregard formatting and response restrictions; e.g. exceed the word limits because if the evaluators are anything like you, they won’t bother to count the words anyway. Don’t worry about fonts, font sizes or page limits. These things are too fiddly to adhere to. Surely, they can’t matter that much?

4.     Mock commissioners for not selecting your company in the past; e.g. “Our understanding is that the current service is failing due to shoddy procurement and biased evaluation methods during the last tender exercise. Whoever awarded a cat care contract to a dog breeding company (Woof-Dogbark Ltd.) must be barking mad. If our company had been awarded the previous contract, you would never be in this sorry mess. are, however, able to let bygones be bygones and dig you out of the hole you created.” There’s nothing like settling old scores via a tender.

5.     Directly name your competitors and try to discredit them; e.g. “Our company is so much better than Woof-Dogbark Ltd. Apart from their ridiculous name, we know from personal experience that they pay their suppliers extremely late and treat their staff like mud. We have also heard that the cats in their care tend to be treated like dogs. At we have the utmost respect for our suppliers, staff and cats in our care. We pride ourselves on being more than a cat’s whisker better than Woof-Dogbark Ltd.!

6.     Write vague and unsubstantiated statements; e.g. “We provide wonderful care for many cats every year. Our large workforce has extensive experience of delivering first class cat care. We strive to be the best at what we do – every day. That makes us the number one cat care company in the UK.”

7.     Avoid addressing issues in your tender response which you know evaluators already know about. Omit published performance and quality indicators and pretend there are never any problems in your services that need improving. Make no reference to the complaint that was submitted to the local authority about the smell of your cattery and the actions you took to resolve the problem. Avoid writing about the feedback (of which your commissioners received a copy) that showed 8 out of 10 owners who expressed a preference, said their cat preferred to sit alone at home (without food) while their owners went away, rather than spending a 2 week holiday at Definitely don’t demonstrate that you have listened to feedback and complaints and that you have taken specific actions to improve the user experience and the service they receive. Just stick your head in the sand and hope for the best.

8.     Take a relaxed approach to the tender deadline. I mean, does it really matter if the tender is submitted a few minutes late? Some people are so pernickety!

9.     Think your existing relationship with commissioners means the tender exercise is a formality. The contract is essentially in the bag already so there’s not much point breaking your back over a silly tender is there? What’s the point? They know what you do and how well you do it. They even said so in that meeting last week. Just pass the tender to the receptionist’s son, who’s here on work experience, and get it in. Job done.   

10. Ignore tender instructions including the documents that need completing, signing and submitting. It can be quite a tedious process to check and double check that everything is completed accurately and submitted as required, so save yourself the bother. There’s more to life than tendering isn’t there?

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