FBO.gov

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.

 

What is your Niche? Narrowing Down What you can do for the Government Customer

arrow and dollarAs you probably already know, there is quite a bit of competition in the government marketplace.  Even among the “small business” set-asides, thousands of companies could potentially go after the same exact opportunities.   It is true that many companies find success by hiring ex-government officials to go off and schmooze the customer and track leads likes blood hounds on a full time basis.  It is also true that many (if not the majority) of very small businesses cannot afford to have such a person or even a generic business development person building key relationships with government customers that will steer contracts their way.

So, what is a small business to do?  Find your niche.  If you have ever read a government statement of work, you may have realized how specific they can be.  The government often knows EXACTLY what type of contractor they’re looking for.  Check out this recent FBO.gov posting from GSA. This is a 100% Woman-Owned Set-Aside requirements list:

The contracted evaluator must have the following skills and/or knowledge:

• Utilize the OIG’s AutoAudit software to document evaluation efforts;
• Utilize Corporation’s information technology (IT) systems (Momentum, MyAmeriCorps Portal, eGrants, and eSPAN) and government-wide IT systems (Payment Management System [housed by the Department of Health and Human Services] and Federal Audit Clearinghouse Database, including Image Management System [housed by the Census Bureau]) to assist evaluation work;
• Operational knowledge of Corporation’s unique grants, including experience in special VISTA grant provisions;
• Working knowledge of the Corporation’s IPERA efforts;
• Understand the Corporation’s internal control environment;
• Knowledgeable of the Single Audit Roundtable; and
• Knowledgeable of the Corporation’s audit resolution processes.

You may say, “Ok, this has got to be geared for a specific contractor.” That may be true, but why would the government want to go with that specific contractor? Because they have a skill set that is so specific to GSA’s needs and GSA wants them!   Every bullet above is a niche, on top of the icing niche on the cake, 100% WOSB set-aside.

So often I work with clients and I ask them to tell me about their business, what they do and what they can do for the government?  Often I hear “we do IT services”, or “we have like research and development”, or something along those lines. Yes, I understand you are just chatting with me and not your government customer, but I also need to know what your niche is, that way I can help you get to the right customer.  The government is BIG, there are lots of contractors, and there is lots of work to be done. So where do you fit?

Improve your messaging to find your fit and to sell your fit. A few of the many questions to ask yourself:

  • What is your company really good at?
  • What unique skill sets do you have?
  • Why are your different than the next guy?

For example: Instead of “Our company provides IT Services”, say, “Our company solves the high risk problem of cybersecurity with engineers experienced in building and maintain defensive networks.”

Have a person familiar with the marketplace review your answers to the questions above with you.  You may think you are communicating sufficiently, but only someone else can really tell you if you have honed your message.

By identifying your niche you are able to pinpoint a) your target customer and b) communicate to your target customer exactly what you can do to support them. You may have a couple of niches, that is great, use them with the right audiences, not all audiences at once.  Take some time to really think hard about what makes your company different than the rest; finding, then communicating your niche will only help in today’s environment.

In the next article, we’ll talk about marketing to your niche. Stay tuned!

Be Heard by the Government Using Sources Sought and RFI’s

It is that time of year, we’re about halfway into Q1 of Fiscal Year 2013 when the holidays (read : time off for federal employees), budgets, and, this year, sequestration, all impact government spending.  Many people think this is a slow time of year, which it can be, but your company can take advantage of Q1 to set course for the remainder of the year.

Right now is the time to reach out and be known.  Requests for Information (RFI’s) and Sources Sought are bubbling up through FBO.gov daily.  Although responding to these requests is not mandatory, not responding to these requests could hurt your future chances.  Per FAR 10.001(a)(2), agencies must conduct market research:

i) Before developing new requirements documents for an acquisition by that agency;

(ii) Before soliciting offers for acquisitions with an estimated value in excess of the simplified acquisition threshold;

(iii) Before soliciting offers for acquisitions with an estimated value less than the simplified acquisition threshold when adequate information is not available and the circumstances justify its cost;

(iv) Before soliciting offers for acquisitions that could lead to a bundled contract (15 U.S.C. 644(e)(2)(A));

(v) Before awarding a task or delivery order under an indefinite-delivery-indefinite-quantity (ID/IQ) contract (e.g., GWACs, MACs) for a noncommercial item in excess of the simplified acquisition threshold (10 U.S.C. 2377(c)); and

(vi) On an ongoing basis, take advantage (to the maximum extent practicable) of commercially available market research methods in order to effectively identify the capabilities of small businesses and new entrants into Federal contracting, that are available in the marketplace for meeting the requirements of the agency in furtherance of—

(A) A contingency operation or defense against or recovery from nuclear, biological, chemical or radiological attack; and

(B) Disaster relief to include debris removal, distribution of supplies, reconstruction, and other disaster or emergency relief activities. (See 26.205).

In addition, agencies are seeing more benefit in gathering industry input prior to releasing a solicitation.  So agencies are using RFIs and Sources Sought even outside the required FAR situations.

Providing timely, and informative responses to the government helps your company in the long run for a number of reasons:

1) You have the ability to present your company and capabilities directly to the CO – This is great because unsolicited proposals or cold calling CO’s is typically not the way to make friends with them.

2) You have the opportunity to provide input, as the expert in your industry, towards the future solicitation – Your professional input provides a better chance that when the solicitation is released, it will make more sense from an industry perspective and will be easier to respond to.

3) You are allowed a more open dialogue with the acquisition team during this time- Your company can make more personable connections with decision makers and requirements developers and those connection can go a long way.

By missing the opportunity to respond to the government’s market research, you are missing an opportunity to connect.  It is well-known among industry and government that winning proposals out of the blue is rare and difficult.  The winners are those that invest the time AHEAD of the solicitation’s release and jumping on those FBO RFIs and Sources Sought is a simple and easy investment to make.