How to land a limited tender

Dutch public organisations often use 'onderhandse aanbestedingen' as purchasing policy. How do you get invited to bid for such a project? Use the 5 tips given by purchasing adviser Chris Verkade of municipality Apeldoorn to boost your chances.

The government is a major client. If you want to deliver products or services to a public organisation, you have to take part in a tender. These are often so-called 'meervoudig onderhandse aanbestedingen' (multiple limited tenders, also called direct agreements). For example, the municipality of Apeldoorn uses these in circa 80 per cent of all cases. 

Difference between single and multiple limited tendering

A direct agreement, or limited tender, is a way of tenderingnot open to all comers. The government is required to use it. In the case of a single limited tender, the organisation invites 1 company to make a quotation. A multiple limited tender means that, for example, a municipalityinvites 3 to 5 companies to send in their quotations. The municipality then chooses the quotation that best fits the (pre-determined) criteria.

5 tips to make yourself stand out

You have to be invited to a limited tender. But how do public servants get to know your company? Purchasing adviser Chris Verkade discloses how the municipality Apeldoorn selects businesses. 

1. Get to know the organisation

Find out all you can about the government organisation you want to do business with. You will find information on their website and in their policy plans. Verkade gives an example: "Plans are never set in stone, but you can increase your chances by acting upon them. For example: Apeldoorn will have a zero-emission zone from 2025. A company could anticipate by buying an electrical company vehicle now." That way, you already own the right vehicle for performing work in that zone. This gives you an edge over the competition. 

2. Sell yourself

Contact the purchasing department and explain what your company could do for that public organisation. Some government organisation work with a business register. That is an overview of companies interested to work for the organisation, with a description of the products and services they have on offer. 

Verkade: “Sell yourself. Ask a purchasing adviser to be included in the business register of the government body. If you are included, they can approach you once they have an assignment." You usually find the contact details of the purchasing deartment on the website of the organisation. 

3. Make sure your website is clear

Apeldoorn keeps a record of entrepreneurs that might be suitable for an assignment. Public servants browse the internet to find additional, new companies. 

And so, Verkade says, it is wise to have your website in order. "Post good references on your website and make clear what it is that you have to offer. Name the municipality, region, and the name of the regional cooperation in the area you are active in. This makes it easier for the government to find you." 

4. Visit trade shows and meetings

Visit trade shows to meet interesting government organisations. Some government organisation organise market days. At these meetings, clients and businesses exchange knowledge and experiences on a certain topic.  

Verkade explains: “In Apeldoorn, we have had a market day about civil works, and one about how to manage and maintain green areas. The municipality and businesses gather on such a day to share the latest developments. You can find information on forthcoming market days in the local newspaper, and on the municipal website." 

5. Share information

The public organisation can also opt for a market consultation. It invites businesses to share specific information with them. They use this information to draw up a tender.

If the market consultation is public, you will most often find it on Tenderned.nl. You can subscribe to alerts of consultations in your field of interest. 

“You will become better known when you share your knowledge", says Verkade. "A typical question for a market consultation is: what new developments are there in your field of expertise?" 

Collaboration

Once you receive an invitation, do not be disheartened by the size op the assignment. Verkade points out that you could collaborate with other companies: "Sometimes, a business does not send in a quote because they will not be able to handle the entire assignment. Use your network to find a company that can execute part of the work. Businesses working in partnership can often take part in tenders."

These organisations (in Dutch) can help when you have questions about tendering.