contracting with government

Is a GSA Schedule Right for Your Company?

GSA Schedule Proposals


Arrowhead Solutions, LLC is the state of Colorado PTAC’s Subject Matter Expert for GSA.

What is a Schedule? – The General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule (also referred to as Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) and Federal Supply Schedules) establish long-term government contracts with commercial firms. GSA Schedules provide fast, flexible, cost-effective procurement solutions that allow customers to meet acquisition challenges, while achieving their missions. There are forty different Schedules that cover everything from environmental services, furniture, restaurant equipment and finance to business solutions.

Acting almost like a catalog of supplies and services for the US Government to procure from, GSA Schedules can be an easy way for customers to access your supplies/services quickly and easily, to an extent. It seems to be a common belief that a GSA Schedule is a necessity and if your company doesn’t have one, you’ll be left behind. Let’s look at some of the pros, cons and considerations you should make before jumping into GSA.

Pros

– Access to all government customers, not just one particular agency – the Schedule Program is government-wide
– Ability to receive orders quickly
– Pre-negotiated terms, conditions, and pricing (thus allowing for your quick orders)
– Diversification of your company’s contract tools – having more ways for your government customer to reach you is good
– Five year award, with options up to another fifteen years

Cons
– Requirement to sell twenty five thousand dollars under the Schedule within the first twenty four months and twenty five thousand dollars every year after
– Work involved with proposal preparation – piles of documents and time needed to navigate the submission rules/process
– Length of time to award – although advertised and quick (for eOffers), GSA is backlogged by eight months right now
– Lower profit margins – your company is required to offer to the government a discount on top of your lowest prices
– Administration – your company is required to pay back the Industrial Funding Fee and report sales


Your particular company’s industry, size, time in business and client base should be taken into consideration before making the leap.

Considerations
– Is your industry dominated by competitors with schedules? Do they receive most of their revenue from GSA Schedules?
– Is your product or service in high demand and do you have current government clients complaining they can’t reach you easily?
– Have you been in business for over two years and do you have stellar track records and solid sales?
– Do you have the extra funding available to pay for your time, or that of outside assistance, to build your proposal?
– Are you willing to wait nearly a year to get on Schedule, or is your time better spent chasing other opportunities?


So, do the benefits of having a Schedule outweigh the costs of building a proposal, offering discounted pricing and administering the schedule? If the answer is yes, we can help.

Contact Us

Meet the Team: Steve Griffin, Contracts Specialist

StephenGriffin200Arrowhead Solutions would like to introduce and welcome  a new team member, Steve Griffin. Steve, PhD, joined Arrowhead Solutions in February 2014 and brings with him over 32 years of experience in Federal Government contracting.

Mr. Griffin has worked a wide variety of contracts types involving acquisition of supplies, services, research, weapons development and testing, and managed healthcare.  In his career, Steve has worked for, worked as a contractor employee providing support to, or worked for firms contracting with the Federal Government.

Steve started his career in contracting in 1981 as a contracts intern with the U. S. Air Force at Luke Air Force.  In 1983 the Air Force moved him to Nellis AFB, and from there he moved to the China Lake facility of the Naval Air Warfare Center in 1985, where he worked until 1992.  In 1992, Steve moved to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, as a subcontract administrator.  From 1994 until 1996 he worked for a small disadvantaged business which held a number of contracts with the FAA for asbestos inspection and monitoring as the manager of contracts at its Denver area office.  From 1996 until 1998 Steve worked for an environmental engineering firm that held contracts with the EPA, Corps of Engineers, the U. S. Forest Service, and other Federal agencies.  In 1998 Steve moved on to a contract administrator position with a firm supporting the contracting operations of the DoD TRICARE program, and in 1999 he returned to the Government with TRICARE as a contract administrator working a number of contracts to acquire healthcare services for active duty military, their family members, and military retirees.  In 2000 Steve was appointed a contracting officer at TRICARE, and was responsible for the administration of five different regional healthcare services contracts over his time as a contracting officer at TRICARE.  In 2006 Steve left TRICARE and contracting to pursue a PhD.  During his time completing his degree program, Steve provided contracting advice and assistance to a firm that held healthcare administration contract with the DoD and the VA.  From February 2013 through January 2014 Steve worked as a contract specialist as an employee of the firm providing support to the GSA, Region 8 FAS office in Lakewood, Colorado working a number of service contracts and task orders.  With the end of his work at GSA, Steve joined Arrowhead Solutions.

Steve holds a BS in Natural Resource Management degree, a Master of Applied Communication degree, and a PhD in Communication Studies degree.   He received a DAWIA Level III certification while with TRICARE, and earned a graduate certificate in ADR from the University of Denver while completing his master’s degree.

How can Stephen and Arrowhead assist your business?

STOP – Don’t pay for SAM Assistance or Registration. Why? It’s FREE and EASY!

Let’s debug this common urban legend of government contracting: Someone tells you have to pay for a “service” in order to register your company with SAM.gov OR you have tocon-artist-alert pay for someone to update your entity’s registration.

So, you’re a government contractor, or you’re wanting to become one. You ask around, “What do I do first?” The responses are muddled, you do some Googling, then you start to really notice the emails offering services to set up or update your registration. WAIT – WHAT?! Services?? I have to pay for this?? The long and short answer: NO

You should never, ever in a million years have to pay for these “services” the emails claim to offer – EVER! The SAM registration takes about 15 minutes to complete, and any updates to it take less than 5 (honestly – it’s that easy)

Be aware of these other “offers” and how the issues can be addressed for free:

1) Year Long Technical “Support”
  • Updates are only as necessary, and often times SAM.gov only needs to be reviewed once a year
  • There is no “support” required
2) SAM.gov Migration Annual Updates
  • Migration happens once; Most likely all government contractors who have registered in the old CCR have already been migrated
3) FAR Updates (if necessary)
  • SAM.gov DOES NOT provide FAR updates!
  • During the annual update of the entity registration, these are already incorporated
4) Basic Changes to Registration (NAICS codes, contact info., contracts awarded, etc.)
  • This is a part of the basic updating
  • Takes 5 minutes!
5) Government Buyer Submission
  • Only if offering disaster response
  • One page within SAM.gov
  • Takes 30 seconds to complete!
6) Verification of Dun & Bradstreet Number (required)
  • Can be done by logging into iUpdate
  • If it is needed, you will be directed after SAM.gov login
7) SAM Registration Completion
  • This is a 15 minute process
  • Can be done for free! (or divide the completing person’s rate by the time it takes – that’s really the cost; just a few dollars of opportunity cost)
8) Verified Vendor Seal of Approval
  • BEWARE – THE GOVERNMENT WILL NOT RECOGNIZE THIS “SEAL”!
So, all in all it may take one person a total of maybe, maybe 25 minutes PER YEAR to either register or update SAM.gov. Now, unless you are paying your employees an exorbitant salary, isn’t 25 minutes much more affordable than the approximately $600 price tag companies out there are charging? I’m not an economics specialist by any means, but I think I’ll go with the 25 minutes, and I hope you do the same.

Still need help? Check out Arrowhead Solutions – we’ll lead you in the right direction with a FREE 30-minute consultation. We don’t like to be scammed, and we definitely don’t want our clients to deal with these “support” claims either.

 

Meet the team! Douglas Wells – Contracts Specialist

Arrowhead Solutions is growing!

Each week, Arrowhead will be highlighting a new team member’s skills and expertise.  We’re thrilled to add their expertise to the Arrowhead portfolio and join in assisting current and prospective small business clients.

New Team Member Spotlight: Douglas WellsDouglas Wells

Doug Wells brings to Arrowhead almost 25 years of hands-on experience in Government contracting.  As an Air Force officer, he was a Contracting Officer with authority to award contracts up to an unlimited dollar amount.  His Air Force contracting experience ranges from nuts and bolts, spares and repairs, and logistics, all the way to multi-billion dollar weapon systems and IT support.  Since active duty retirement, Doug has used his expertise to assist the USDA and US Department of Education, as well as an Air Force operational contracting office.  A short list of Doug’s specialties include:

–        Contract management, related documents review and approval
–        Thorough understanding and use of FAR, DFARS, and other supplements, including DLA and civilian agencies
–        RFP analysis
–        RFP shredding and requirements matrix development
–        Proposal preparation
–        Source Selection process
–        Contract clause compliance and flow down
–        Subcontractor management
–        In-house process documentation and government compliance review
–        Contract closeout/records disposition

Welcome aboard, Doug!

 

Look – We’re Growing!

Arrowhead Solutions Announces the Addition of Four New Team Members

Boulder, CO (April 21, 2014) – Stephanie Amend, Founder / Executive Consultant of Arrowhead Solutions, LLC announces the addition of four new team members. Specializing in aiding small businesses in the processes relating to government contracting, Arrowhead has continued to grow in both the number of clients they assist, as well as the number of consultants on staff. Caroline (Carrie) Grigg, Douglas Wells, and Steve Griffin have joined the team as Contracts Specialists. Carrie brings ten years of experience in contract management and business development in diverse fields including IT, A/E/C, bioscience and energy. Doug brings to Arrowhead almost 25 years of hands-on experience in Government contracting. Since active duty retirement, Doug has used his expertise to assist the USDA and US Department of Education, as well as an Air Force operational contracting office.  Stephen’s expertise in government contracting brings into the mix experience in the dynamics present in government, how to read and interpret laws, regulations and policies, and how government agencies are structured, operate and think. Stephen holds both a PhD in Communication Studies and Master of Applied Communication degrees. Another new addition to Arrowhead, Lindsy Bentz, has joined as the Director of Marketing and Operations. Lindsy will assist clients with marketing their services to the Government as well as overseeing the internal marketing and operations efforts of Arrowhead.

About Arrowhead Solutions:

Arrowhead Solutions, LLC has been serving Boulder and Denver, Colorado metro areas and clients across the nation for five years. Stephanie Amend, Founder / Executive Consultant formed Arrowhead after seeing a need for assistance in the small-business government contracting arena. As both a civilian working for the Air Force as a Contracts Specialist at Hill Air Force Base, and as a Contracts Negotiator in the private sector, Stephanie teamed up with Janet Shea, CPA after getting Arrowhead off the ground to provide the small businesses services much needed in the Boulder/Denver area.  Five years later, Arrowhead has grown to carry a roster of clients from coast to coast with the ability to assist in every area of government contracting.

Five Years; time to give back to our wonderful readers! Part 1 of 4:

As Arrowhead celebrates our 5th anniversary, we realize that we could not have done it without all the support from you – our readers and clients!

To give back, we’d like to share some government contracting tips and tricks so that you can be the best government contractor possible. Each week, throughout the month of March, we’re going to be posting 5 tips to celebrate 5 years. Cheers!

This week’s post: Government Contracting: Tips and Tricks Part 1 – DCAA and Government Accounting

#1: Ask “How would we fair during a DCAA audit?” Not sure? Try a mock audit with Arrowhead’s experts on the other side of the table before there is DCAA in the picture.

#2: Make sure you know what wrap rate means. Need a refresher?

#3: Be familiar with indirect and direct rates. Read On…

#4: Read RFQs carefully – response instructions must be followed exactly as stated.

#5: Make sure to time your GSA proposal right  (if you have one). Not sure? Just call Arrowhead and we’ll help you sort it out. Don’t know if you really need a GSA? You could be right. Not all companies can benefit from being on a GSA Schedule. Arrowhead will also help you sort this out.

Don’t forget to follow Arrowhead Solutions on Twitter (@arrowheadllc) for daily tips, too!

See you next week!

Press Release: Arrowhead Solutions, LLC Celebrates Five Years of Continued Growth

Boulder, CO (March 3, 2014) – Stephanie Mueller Amend, Founder of the boutique consulting firm, Arrowhead Solutions, LLC, announces the company’s five-year anniversary. With specialties in supporting small businesses with the processes and cycles relating to government proposals, GSA Schedules, contracts, accounting, compliance and marketing to the government, .  Arrowhead continues to experience significant revenue growth year over year. Focusing on quality and effectiveness differentiates Arrowhead as a top-rated, government contractor consulting firm. Positive reviews of Arrowhead from current clients are well documented, and continue to lead to the company’s growth supporting clients from coast to coast. Diversification into commercial support for clients and placing emphasis on strengthening client marketing efforts has allowed Arrowhead continued success; even as a recession, funding cuts, government shutdowns, and sequestration nearly paralyzed the industry of government contracting.

Marching with the rhythms of the government has been one key to Arrowhead’s continued success. Slow periods in government spending translate to “focus time” for Arrowhead clients’, as well all Arrowhead’s own, business development; hence the birth of the ArrowBD service and addition of the government marketing division of the business in 2013. Arrowhead’s next major advance, coming in 2014, will continue to propel Arrowhead and their clients forward for years to come.

About Arrowhead Solutions:

Arrowhead Solutions, LLC has been serving Boulder, Colorado area, the Denver Metro area, and clients across the nation since 2009. Stephanie Mueller Amend, founded Arrowhead after seeing a need for assistance in the small-business government contracting arena. Five years later, Arrowhead has fostered the ability to assist in every area of government contracting and grown to support a diverse roster of clients nationwide. For additional information about Arrowhead Solutions, LLC call 303-515-0527, email Lindsy Bentz, l.bentz@arrowheadsolutionsllc.com, or visit the website at: www.arrowheadsolutionsllc.com.

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Freshman Government Contractors:

ImageYes, the government has been in 2014 for three months already now, but with the shutdown and the holidays, it seems that we’re all finally ready for 2014 to really start tomorrow. I began to think about what newer government contractors can resolve to do this year in order to make it a successful 2014. The theme turned out to be Patient Investment. So, resolve to be successful in 2014 and read on:

  1. Don’t fall for a scam. For some reason I am seeing more and more spams, scams and sketch artists all of a sudden.  I have clients sending me multiple emails a day asking “is this real”? No, it probably isn’t. I just read a LinkedIn post about a deft scammer and I am getting quite a bit of spam in my inbox trying to sell me services that don’t sound quite right. Trust your intuition. If you get an official-type looking email out of the blue regarding your sam.gov registration, if you get a call claiming you can win no-bid contracts, if you are told you need a GSA Schedule to do business with the government, or that your government registration is incomplete (among a myriad of other “sells”), know that it is probably something to avoid. Your name was probably mined, sold and now out on the market for fly-by night companies and consultants to prey upon.  Look to legitimate, well-established, and qualified companies / consultants that don’t stalk you down with slick unsolicited help. You will save a lot of money and avoid being burned.
  2. Invest in your future customers. It is rare that a good contract will be won out of the blue.  Winning government contracts takes time, and yes, money.  But, it doesn’t have to take too much of your time or your money if you approach the contract correctly. Finding which agencies are buying your products and services, who they are currently buying from, and how the agencies are buying is key. Without that baseline, you’re just shooting in the dark.  Build a targeted marketing plan towards your selected agencies. Find the right folks, get your marketing materials in order, ensure you have a representative getting you out there and keeping you out there.  Make contacts, team up, and keep your finger on the pulse. Be careful in who you target, how and when.  You can easily go down the wrong side of the road and not realize it. Being reactive is not an option for newer contractors. Being proactive is not necessarily free, but it is an investment, and a very worthy one to say the least.
  3. Educate yourself. Aim to become government contract (“govcon” in this world’s speak) savvy. This resolution actually is a thread through the other resolutions in this post.  If you are a newer government contractor, you will soon realize the government contracts world doesn’t really operate exactly like your commercial world.  Marketing, proposals, negotiations, contracts, accounting, and compliance all have spins about them of which you MUST be aware.  Without some education and guidance, you will (not may, but “will”) wander into dangerous territory.  It is a sneaky thing, too because you won’t really know you wandered into that territory until years have passed.  The government moves slow, and so do ramifications of not knowing government nuances.  Make sure you understand the government’s procurement process, the expectations for marketing and outreach, what the government is looking for, what clauses say and mean, and what being a government contractor may change in your operational processes and procedures.  Don’t learn the hard way; learn safe way.
  4. Team up.  The best way to get your foot in the door is to find an experienced teammate. Not only will you have more exposure to the government at less cost (think lower bid and proposal costs, easy name promotion, etc.), but you can learn tons of valuable insight and information from your teammates. They (hopefully) have been around the block in your competitive arena.  Sharing the costs, time and the effort of supporting a government requirement is a great way to slowly and safely graduate from a freshman government contractor.  Don’t be shy about being a prime contractor, either. You can bring a large government contractor under you as a subcontractor and they can help you just as much as if the roles were reversed. Many large businesses are happy to be a sub to a small business since they want to work projects that may have been set aside only for a small business. Network with companies who are both similar to yours as well as those companies that have complimentary offerings. The government is looking for solutions; maybe your offering is a tiny slice of a bigger solution – find your team and then you find the government’s solution.
  5. Keep the faith. Sometimes government wins pop out of the blue, but most times it is a very (very) long pipeline. This pipeline requires patience and diligence. However, the long road is definitely worth the wait.  I hear the phrase, “Once you’re in, you’re in.” I probably have to agree with that statement.  Working on resolutions 1-4 above will all lead you to getting “in” and 2014 is looking like a good year; don’t be left out!

Still have more questions? Call or email Arrowhead Solutions, and we’ll share with you our insight on how to most successfully navigate 2014. Consultations are 30 minutes and completely gratis!

Ph: 720-515-0527 or info@arrowheadsolutionsllc.com

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