Tip #541: A Cautionary Tale

“PRESENT, n. That part of eternity dividing the domain of disappointment from the realm of hope.” Ambrose Bierce

My company has been on the GSA MOBIS Schedule for nine months, with absolutely no success.

Why? The answer is very simple and I am glad to share it with you, in the hope that my sad tale saves someone else from this costly and time-consuming misery.

This is what I have learned:

If you want to provide soft skills training or curriculum development services to the federal government, you need to have:

(1) a large company with many trainers and support staff;

(2) offices in the Washington, D.C. area;

(3) offices on the west coast;

(4) provided similar program services to the federal government in the recent past; and

(5) dedicated personnel to watch for relevant RFPs and write the lengthy and complicated proposals.

In other words, if you are a one-person operation located in the Midwest, if you lack the requisite person power, if you have to estimate and charge all travel costs, and if you haven’t had any recent federal contracts, FORGET IT!!!

Either the contracts are for millions of dollars over a multi-year time period or they are for a one or two day program, and both types of contracts typically need to be provided someplace to which you will need to travel (and even remain for long periods of time). Since the government says it will take the lowest cost and since I always need to factor in travel costs, I’m sunk. I don’t have a chance. Not a prayer.

And, guess what? I could have avoided all of this had I thought to research my chances on the GSA website, instead of asking the GSA preparation and marketing company (who wanted my money) if they thought my company would be a good candidate.

Recently, I discovered that there is a “Readiness Assessment for Prospective Offerors” on the GSA Website. If I had only taken this assessment, I would have realized the GSA Schedule was not a good fit for me.

Here are the key questions that would have made this glaringly obvious:

  • Does your firm know how much time and money successful firms spend to market to the Federal Government? (Research shows that successful firms spend between $80-$130K a year to earn their first order).
  • Does your firm have the committed personnel or resources to write proposals and administer a MAS contract?
  • Does your firm know that as a MAS contractor you are required to sell a minimum of $25,000 within the first 24 months following contract award and are expected to exceed $25,000 in sales each 12-monthperiod thereafter?
  • Does your firm understand that 60% of the GSA Schedule contractors do not meet the minimum sales requirements as defined by I-FSS-639?
  • Have you developed relationships with potential federal customers? (GSA research indicates that it is important to have a relationship with the agency you are targeting to buy your product or service.)

These were “Yes” or “No” questions and my answer to each of them would have been a resounding “NO!”

So, what have I learned from this ill fated and completely avoidable misadventure? I’ll tell you in the next Tip.

May your learning be sweet.


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