Getting Your GSA Business on Schedule
Despite robust opportunity at the federal, state and local level, the government sector remains a highly procedural market requiring the utmost in professionalism. With the necessary skillsets and business acument, systems integrators can participate and profit as a direct provider or subcontractor.
Looking for new growth opportunities during these challenging economic times? Many installing security contractors continue to explore the potential for government-funded projects to compensate for lagging sales. Entering or expanding a presence in the competitive government security marketplace is a worthwhile consideration.
In fact, according to SSI‘s latest Systems Integrator Study more than half the responding installing security contractors have participated in General Service Administration-related federal government security projects. That level of involvement in the government space marked roughly a 7-percentage-point jump compared to the previous year.
Government entities will always need security! This fact cannot be understated. But to truly be a contender and win projects, an integrator will need to thoroughly assess its willingness to commit to the sector’s strict regulations. Moreover, it will be necessary to prepare a thoughtful strategy that melds your company’s product offerings and service capabilities with the government’s procurement processes and intricate requirements.
Without question, government contracting can be quite complex for integrators and end-user agencies alike. Yet the process can be simplified considerably by having the right contract vehicle(s) in place to cover the products, services and scope of work to meet project demands.
Let’s take a close look at the latest developments in the government sector and explore how best to maneuver successfully in this unique channel.
A Streamlined Contract Process
A General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule contract vehicle is always a sure bet to make it easier for federal agencies to buy — as well as for the installing contractor to offer — a total solution. Under some GSA programs, such as GSA Schedule 84 for security, fire and other building controls, the eligibility to use the GSA program is extended to state and local agencies.
Fortunately for integrators wishing to sell to a government agency, the current scope of GSA Schedule 84 allows for the procurement of a turnkey solution. Indeed, the Schedule 84 program offers all that an integrator typically provides: assessment of the site, design, selling of products, installation, repair and a continuing maintenance agreement.
Government agencies can save time and money since GSA Schedule contractors provide solutions that have been fully vetted for financial stability, past performance and experience, with pricing and terms equal to or better than the contractor’s best customers.
Helping streamline the process, agencies can utilize GSA eTools – an online portal where federal and private customers can quickly learn about an array of GSA products, services and pricing to find a GSA contractor. Through the various eTools end users may request a quote and place an order through a simplified ordering process without going to formal advertising or formal bid.
Understanding Your GSA Options
There are a few options for different levels of involvement for integrators under the GSA program. The first option an integrator can consider is to work with a current GSA contractor, providing support through subcontracting services. This is a great way to learn the rules of engagement with the government. All large business GSA contractors are required by federal rules to provide opportunities to small and small disadvantaged businesses. There are GSA Mentor Protégé programs that promote this type of partnering.
The next option is a step up for a higher level of commitment. An integrator could request to become a participating GSA reseller/service provider under one or more manufacturer’s programs. Many of these programs also include services priced regionally for installation and maintenance agreements, as well as a margin consideration for products as allowed by GSA.
Finally, the best practice observed by successful integrators is to hold your own contract in addition to participating as a GSA reseller/service provider to offer a complete line of products and services. Integrators with a GSA contract can also set up “teaming arrangements” with other GSA contractors in order to offer a total solution or participate in jobs that may be set aside for certain business categories. This arrangement also may help to mentor disadvantaged subcontractors.
There is special procurement consideration for women-owned, veteran- and disabled veteran-owned, disadvantaged small- and HUBZone-owned business with federal agencies. Experience has demonstrated that even with these preferred categories, contractors have written more business as they benefited from having a GSA contract prequalified and pre-negotiated pricing and terms whether taking orders directly or as a “teaming partner.”
Ultimately, in order to have the best solution access to those agencies that utilize the GSA eTools, an integrator must hold its own GSA contract.
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