Vendors, don’t forget: The federal fiscal year ends Sept. 30!
Successful contractors know that now, before Sept. 30, is one of the best times of the year to land government business, and they build on it for the future.
And the federal market is huge. Federal government purchases of goods and services should reach $1.04 trillion in 2008 and rise further – to $1.06 trillion in 2009 – as estimated by the research firm Global Insight and reported in a previous GovPro.com article.
Congress was even more deliberate this year in passing federal appropriations legislation, so federal agencies will be even more time-pressed to spend their budget dollars.
“This is an unusual fiscal year-end, because so many budget dollars are just now becoming available,” Gloria Berthold Larkin told GovPro.com. “There are more billions available in contract opportunities this year compared to years past.
“So between now and Sept. 30, those federal agencies need to push all of that money out in contracts. So it’s a huge opportunity for well-positioned contractors to win business.” Berthold Larkin is president of TargetGov at Elkridge, Md.-based Marketing Outsource Associates Inc, which stages teleconferences on federal fiscal year-end strategies for businesses that want to sell to government.
For federal public purchasing officials who find themselves near the end of the fiscal year, Berthold Larkin offered this advice: “Be open to new vendors. I think that one of the critical factors is that public purchasers are under the gun right now to really push out a lot of contracts, so they – and I can understand it – tend to work with the same vendors that they’ve worked with in the past. But there are a lot of vendors that are out there that are ready, willing and capable of delivering excellent products and services if the buyers would just be open to it.”
Some advice Berthold Larkin offers to businesses that want to land federal business at the fiscal year-end:
- Don’t try to sell to everybody – target your top three agencies.
- Make sure that your firm offers a year-end special. “Target that whole concept of fiscal year-end and make it an attractive offer,” Berthold Larkin said.
- Make it easy to buy from your company. “By that I mean use the agency’s preferred contract vehicle,” Berthold Larkin explained. “A GSA schedule isn’t what everybody uses anymore. Prospective government vendors need to research contract vehicles that are specific to the agency.” For example, the Department of Homeland Security uses the Eagle or Alliant contract vehicles, she explained.
- Stay in touch frequently with the buying agency, because buyers in federal agencies are changing jobs at an unprecedented rate.
- Make sure that your Web site is “government-buyer-friendly,” so buyers don’t have to comb through layers of Web pages to find out what you have to offer them.
It’s important, Berthold Larkin asserted, that vendors accept procurement cards or other government purchase cards on transactions because “that’s the easiest way that federal agencies can buy from you.”
However, “Now, at the fiscal year-end, there are billions of dollars that they have to contract out, and they can’t do that on procurement cards or purchase cards alone – they need to be able to use other contract vehicles that are specific to the agencies,” she added.
Gloria Berthold Larkin recently authored “The Veterans Business Guide: How to Build a Successful Government Contracting Business.” For details, click here.