Seven Potential 8a Marketing Advantages
A firm should assess the marketing advantages it has when going forward for an 8a certification. These marketing advantages can lead to much larger contracts sooner in the federal market space. Every contract builds upon the next in terms of size. So therefore it is critical that a firm make use of as many of its advantages as possible.
1. History of Past Performance – If the firm has past performance history of doing work as a subcontractor for the federal government this can increase its initial contracting opportunities because the firm will already have past performance making it a safer choice for set-aside contracts. For example: A construction firm is able to demonstrate to a procurement officer that they are familiar with federal contracting expectations by virtue of having worked as a subcontractor therefore the initial project they are awarded will be much larger.
2. Government Contracts & Networking – Networking with people within the federal government that you have done work for in the past or have a working relationship with often times provides 8a firms with new ideas for market to enter. For example: A security guard firm gets a janitorial contract because of good working relationships with procurement officers at a federal facility.
3. Low priced product – If you are selling to the government a product and are adopting a low priced strategy. The 8a marketplace for selling products is competitive but often times an 8a company with its 10% price preference can obtain contracts through competitive pricing becoming the “no brainer” for the contracting officer.
4. GSA Schedule – GSA Advantage is the best tool that contracting officers have at their disposal for market comparison of various products. Therefore if you are selling a product it is critical that the product be made available on GSA Advantage. Often times procurement officers will access GSA Advantage for the sole purpose of buying a particular product from a firm with a specific SBA set-aside such as the 8a certification.
5. Rare Industry – If your firm is in a rare industry, such as aluminum extrusion, light manufacturing, real estate broker, or other non-typical 8a type firm (norms are construction, IT, staffing, janitorial, etc.) your firm may have an entire federal market to itself with very limited competition. The most important factor is being able to identify where the specific contracts for your firm will originate from.
6. Good Geographical Location – The Washington DC area has thousands of 8a firms in the area to service the federal government. It is true that Billions of contracting dollars are spent in this region every year. However often times certain areas have major military installations with very few 8a contractors. Also The Department of corrections, IRS, Department of Health, etc. that are located throughout the United States that often times have difficulty finding reliable 8a suppliers. So make sure you check to see what types of opportunities are available in your back yard before you go trekking across the country.
7. Strategic Partners JV or Mentor – Often times large contracts are available for 8a firms, however the 8a firms lack the capabilities needed to complete these contracts. Having friends with firms that are much larger with additional financial, management & technical skills, and/or bonding capacity can give the 8a firm access to much larger contracts in their first year as an 8a firm. The 8a firm gets full credit for the past performance on these contracts and this leads the firm into having a better (1) history of past performance and high level (2) networking opportunities. In the figure below we see the normal 8a contract size growth cycle:
When a firm takes advantage of one or several of the seven marketing advantages it might have the contracting opportunities shifts upwards, greatly increasing the overall revenue the 8a firm receives over the course of its 8a certification.