The first lesson you’ll learn about government contracting is that almost all companies win their first contract by becoming a subcontractor to a more prominent Prime contractor. This is because the Prime contractor has more resources, a better track record, and sometimes a door to the client you are interested in working with. However, the Prime will eventually want to be the prime and will need to search for teaming partners. Although this article is primarily about you as the Prime and your role, you can ask all these questions whenever you are asked about teaming.
For many reasons, companies “team-up” with other companies and subcontract with them. They work together to make themselves more competitive. They work together to get access to a market, agency, or armed force that they don’t have the time or business intelligence to do on their own. The larger Prime will look for partners that have a different competitive edge to their company when looking a partner. A programmatic strategy that works well together helps both companies increase their pipeline opportunities. Sometimes, it even allows them to enlist their partners to do the majority of the work for a proposal.
It is simple to see that teaming can be a great way for your company to increase its opportunities and position in the market. In its most basic form, however, you are building a relationship. Every relationship requires research and diligence. You want to get the most out of your relationship, as well as provide value for your partner.
Before you sign a contract with the government, there are some questions that you need to ask. These questions are essential to ask before you sign a government contract. It can cause you to choose the wrong partner and waste your time, energy, resources, and ultimately, it could lead to losing contracts. To ensure the best teaming strategy, ask these questions early.
1. Does their website look professional?
If not…or no website… (if not…or no website…), I would not subcontract with them. Their website does not have to be the most impressive. You just need to make sure it is professionally designed and something you feel comfortable sharing with potential clients. This company will be your partner. Your clients will Google them and search for a website. Ask them if they are open to making changes if their website does not meet your requirements. You may still consider them a partner if they agree to the changes and are available to do so quickly.
2. Do they have a professional email address?
(no Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, etc.) Exchange email addresses are one of the fastest ways to find out if someone isn’t serious about your business. A domain name and email support cost an average company less than $100 per employee per year. This is a small investment that every partner who cares should make.
3. What is the company’s size?
You can call the judge – but make sure they have the resources. It is not a good idea to win a contract but then be unable to complete the work because your partner lacks the resources. You need to ensure that they have the resources to perform the task you require them to do to win the contract. This is true for both small and large businesses. You may need to deal with a minor division of a larger company. However, they should be able and willing to provide the necessary resources. In all cases, make sure your partner can meet your contract’s demands or scale up as needed.
4. Better Business Bureau
First, check to see if the rating is correct. What is their rating? Did they resolve any complaints? Although they may have multiple complaints, this is not unusual for their industry. Construction companies and auto mechanics are two examples of initiatives that often have numerous complaints. It is the nature of their business. It is essential to find out if these issues have been resolved and if they remain in good standing with BBB.
5. Google the company to find out more about legal and financial matters.
You can search by the company name, the name of the CEO/top leader, and keywords such as “rip-off report,” “scams,” and “complaints.” You should search for the CEO or top leader because scammers and unethical business people will often create new companies in order to avoid any complaints.
6. LinkedIn Profile?
Is there a profile for the company owner/point of contact? It is worth reviewing. Look at the shape and any attachments, publications, or recommendations. These details will give you insight into the company and person you are talking to, but it will also help you get to know them better and strengthen your relationship. Send a personal invitation to connect.
7. Are they responsive?
For example, let’s say you contacted them to discuss a job opportunity. You have clearly communicated your uniqueness and competitive advantage. Are they responsive to your calls and emails within 48 hours? Are they professional in their responses? It’s a common saying, which I love to use here: “How it starts, is how it finishes.” You can expect your potential partner to be responsive at the beginning. This will continue throughout the proposal phase, award process, and contract execution. Failure to respond is a recipe for disaster.
8. Have they ever provided this service?
(i.e., Do they have any past performance or expertise? Ask them specifically for information on similar contracts that they have supported in the past three years. You should review past performance and information that is directly relevant to the agreement you are interested in bidding on. If they did something similar, it’s not enough. This should translate into the work for this contract. You’re looking for information relevant to your situation that is specific and pertinent.
9. What are the requirements for professionalism?
How many employees will they be subcontracting with you if the support you require is performed frequently by people who have specific certifications or licenses? If you have only one, you will need to be clear when you ask about their self-performing ability in question 10. You should ensure that your potential partner has the documentation necessary to obtain their certifications and licenses. These documents are not usually required upfront. However, you can ask your potential partner if they can produce the documentation on request for your client.
10. Are they able to hire the right people, and can they perform themselves?
This is a crucial question! Many companies won’t allow employees to sit on the bench, waiting for their next contract. Do you agree with your employees signing a subcontracting agreement, then sending it to Monster or a recruiter to get the labor they need to complete the contract? This may be risky, depending on the products and services you offer. If you subcontract work to another company due to their expertise, you assume they will use in-house workers to complete the contract. You are taking a severe risk if you don’t. There is no correct answer, but you should take this into consideration.