BusinessGrow Your Business Through Health and Social Care Tenders

Grow Your Business Through Health and Social Care Tenders

Every year, local and central government bodies spend tens of billions of pounds on health and social care, including children’s care, domiciliary care, supported living and extra care services. In accordance with public procurement regulations, all health and social care contracts over a certain value must be advertised via two government websites – Contracts Finder and Find a Tender.

Consequently, bidding for public sector health and social care tenders is one of the best methods of growing your care business and securing more contracts. Executive Compass have over 15 years of experience supporting clients with over thousands of PQQ, SQ and ITT submissions for health and social care opportunities, and are ideally positioned to provide insight into how to secure business with local and central government. 

Develop a strong base of experience

As part of the mandatory minimum criteria, contracting authorities may expect you to have a certain number of years trading or minimum turnover to ensure business stability. It is also crucial to ensure your previous relevant experience of delivering care and support contracts aligns with the tendered service. For the quality element of the submission, identifying opportunities where you can leverage this to your advantage will give you a higher chance of success.

Once firmly established, many newer care companies then look to gain entry onto a framework agreement or dynamic purchasing system. This will be an easier path to acquiring public sector clients, as single-provider contracts are highly competitive, selective and usually require extensive previous experience.

Find a tender opportunity right for your business 

It is crucial to establish a clearly defined bidding strategy from the beginning of your tender journey. Many organisations have a scattershot approach to tendering for contracts, only bidding for ‘must-win’ tenders or those which may not necessarily align with the wider vision for business growth. 

Be sure to set up alerts for the government’s Contracts Finder and Find a Tender websites, in addition to any procurement portals you are registered with. Alerts will allow you to monitor new opportunities which are released and align with your service provision and geographic region. 

Once you have identified a health and social care opportunity you are interested in submitting, consider following this methodology:

  • Review the requirements of the opportunity to ensure you meet the minimum requirements, such as CQC rating, a registered office within the region, and any turnover thresholds which may apply 
  • Read the specification and ITT documents in full to gain understanding on the number of hours or visits to be delivered as part of service provision, checking this against your resource capacity 
  • Ensure there is sufficient time to produce a high-quality, persuasive bid in advance of the submission deadline. 

Create a project-specific tender plan 

As any bid writer will tell you, each tender is different – ranging from a single-submission document to a slew of pricing schedules, response documents and appendices. Following your decision to bid for the opportunity, schedule a kick-off or project management meeting to discuss and agree the following: 

  • Individual task owners assigned to each document or section based on their subject matter knowledge, with one individual quality checking each piece of work
  • A timeline or timescales for each task, enabling you to allocate different resource if there is any slippage to the bid
  • A submission checklist recapping all documents, responses, appendices and plans required for a compliant bid. 

Lastly, ensure you schedule sufficient time for the most labour-intensive elements of the tender submission – typically, the pricing schedule and quality question set. 

Focus on the quality questions or method statements 

Tenders are evaluated on two elements – a quality element requiring bidders to respond to a question set in the form of future-focused quality responses and method statements, and a pricing aspect where bidders submit a cost for service provision. 

Health and social care tenders are often evaluated heavily on the quality aspect of the submission. In some instances, pricing schedules are fixed, and the contract will be awarded on a 100% quality evaluation. A five-step best practice approach to quality responses and method statements will ensure you can gain maximum marks from the authority. 

Step 1 – Answer Plan Each Response

To support achievement of the strongest possible marks, it is crucial to create an answer plan for each response in accordance with the wording of the question and contract specification, ensuring there are no gaps or omissions in your response. Answer planning can also serve as a useful tool to make sure you do not get sidetracked or off-topic, and end up answering the question you wish was asked, rather than the question the authority has asked

Step 2 – Write with Purpose

When drafting responses, make sure to focus on the ‘how’ and ‘why’ for each point you wish to make. How will carers be assigned to different service users and locations, and why is this the best solution for individuals receiving care and the authority? Rationalising your approaches will make it easier to score marks, ensuring each sentence has purpose, and eliminating ‘fluff’ or irrelevant content.

Step 3 – Break Up Large Chunks of Text

Use images, charts, tables and bulleted lists if permitted to break up your response, making it clear and easy for the evaluator to read and avoiding a ‘wall of text’ approach. Much like this article, no one is likely to read it if it was formatted as a single paragraph, and evaluators have likely read dozens of submissions prior to your own. Presenting content in varied styles can allow your submission to stand out from other bidders, in addition to making it easier to adhere to tight word limits.

Step 4 – Emphasise the Benefits

Lastly, within quality responses ensure you are clearly emphasising the benefits of your service offering (e.g. previous service provision for the same authority), to illustrate why you are ideally positioned and best-suited to deliver against the requirements. Signposting proposed benefits within responses will ensure evaluators cannot miss crucial, marks-scoring points of your proposed service provision. 

Step 5 – Format Responses Accordingly

Although not a formally marked element of your submission, a professionally presented, easy to read document with images and colour deployed strategically throughout will make a positive impression on the evaluation committee. Although it is advisable to create a response template at the beginning of each bid, formatting can also be polished as part of the final stages prior to submitting your tender. 

Schedule a document check prior to submission

24 hours prior to submission, all work on the tender should be complete and ready for a final check from a senior member of the team or quality manager. Using the submission checklist created at the beginning of the project, make sure they check: 

  • The Standard Selection Questionnaire (SQ) has been completed accurately and in full, with any relevant attachments such as audited accounts also included 
  • All quality responses adhere to specific character, word or page limits to minimise the chances of disqualification or reduced marks 
  • Appendices and attachments such as CVs of your Registered Manager are completed, uploaded in the correct location 
  • Pricing schedules have been completed accurately and in full, as you are unlikely to submit a revised edition after the deadline. 

For frequent bidders, gaining feedback from successful and unsuccessful submissions is crucial to continuously improving your tender outcomes. This will allow you to address weaknesses, increase quality scores for bid submissions, and grow your business through tendering for health and social care contracts.

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