Cut Through the Hassle of Pursuing Government Contracts

Portable restroom providers can avoid the pitfalls of going after government work and still reap the rewards

Cut Through the Hassle of Pursuing Government Contracts

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Working with the government can be tricky. The bidding process is lengthy, the customer is demanding and the payments are very slow. But in some cases, a government contract can fill huge holes in restroom service routes, as generally government work is highly concentrated depending on the type of job it is.

So where do you start?

The first place to look for this kind of work is online. Building a database of bid or procurement websites can take time. In some states, the work is bid at the county level. In others, it is bid at the town level. It took me a long time to find the right sites, but now that I have them, I check them weekly so nothing slips by.

Another way to find this kind of work is to pay a service. There are a couple of websites such as GovCB or GovSpend that put all bids into one location. However, these services can be pricey, so you have to decide which method works best for your portable restroom operation.

Once you find the bids, then the real work starts. Some government work is really easy to bid by just filling out a price sheet. Others are lengthy, like the 74-page bid I recently submitted.

A bid is generally made up of boilerplate language, pages of specifications about types of units and services, and pricing pages. Each state or agency has different forms that they require PROs to submit with their pricing sheets. Generally, these forms vary by state. A good place to start is to get a solid list of references — three to five — as most bids want that. A W-9 and sample certificate of insurance are also helpful to have on hand.

Bids take time, so I try to work on them in the morning when it is still quiet. I read through the paperwork twice, making notes or flagging certain pages. I keep copies of everything submitted so I can copy information from previous years and every line is filled in correctly. Add a well-worded cover sheet and you are all done.

My final piece of advice is to pay attention to the bid due date and time. I always send bids via FedEx, as the U.S. Postal Service has lost too many of my packages at this point. I generally send them one to two days in advance to guarantee they are in hand when the bid opens.

When A Royal Flush first moved into the state of New Jersey, it was a real struggle to grow the business. There are some truly amazing companies in New Jersey that give great service, and customers weren’t too interested in moving to a new company. Finally, we won a state of New Jersey contract and business exploded. We were in every state park and up and down the highway within a month of winning the bid. We could barely keep up with the growth.

This is what is so great about government work. Now I just have to work on getting paid for it!


About the author: Alexandra Townsend is co-owner of A Royal Flush, based in Philadelphia.



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