It goes without saying that Fire and Security is a competitive industry. There are lucrative contracts to be won, particularly for commercial properties with long-lasting maintenance agreements. So: how do you rise above the competition to win new business?
You’re likely no stranger to the tender process, and no doubt you’ve won a fair few contracts already. However, as you’ve continued to expand, you’ll have noticed that the competition to win bigger, better contracts is getting tougher, as are the expectations from the customers.
As a result, now more than ever, it’s important to show that you can't just match, but can go one better than your competition. Unfortunately, that’s going to prove a challenge if you’ve not elevated your job management strategy, particularly when it comes to handling maintenance.
When going to tender, you need to be able to demonstrate that the service you provide is both historically impressive (to show what you’ve achieved), and detailed enough to inspire confidence that you can deliver on your promises, and the customer's stated requirements. They'll want to see that you can hit targets and, especially when it comes to Fire and Security, be assured that their business will be safe in your hands.
You may have a Planned Preventive Maintenance (PPM) strategy in place already, and it could be working well for you. What you’ll want to recognise, however, is that you will yield better results and appear more favourably in tender if your PPM strategy is tied to automation.
We’ve spoken before about Why Automating your PPM Strategy is Essential, covering automation's:
- Superiority over reactive maintenance,
- Its ability to increase your productivity, and
- How it can save you money,
And while we recommend you check out that post too, here, we'll discuss the details you need to know about PPM in tender. In addition, we’ve prepared a treat that's featured at the end of this post. You can download your FREE Tender Writing Checklist, designed to help you write winning bids.
- What to look out for when going for tender:
- What to focus on when tendering for PPM:
A. Improved Quality
B. Enhanced Efficiency
C. Optimised Strategy
- Importance of keeping customers informed
Now, before we can properly dive in to automated PPM and discuss its relevance to tender, it’s important to summarise what you need to keep in mind as you write as well. This focus will help you when it comes to structuring your answers:
- Provide actual answers.
Make sure that you’re answering the questions the buyer is asking, not the questions you want them to be asking. It can be tempting to talk up your successes, but make sure they’re relevant to the questions being asked.
- Backup for your facts.
Every statement you make in a tender needs to be backed up with hard data and statistics. For example, instead of simply saying you have a high first-time fix rate, figure out what the number actually is; being able to compare yourself with competition and industry averages could put you in good stead.
- Less "we," more "you.”
Instead of just bragging about your business, talk about how you can benefit the buyer. They need to know you can look after them, so be specific about you can fulfil their requirements.
- Added value.
Offer ideas, suggestions, and extra analysis to show that your business has a lot to offer beyond the bare minimum of completing a job. That’s where automation and (in particular) communication could be a game changer.
Having this framework in mind will help you formulate constructive answers that go beyond simple, yes, no, or vague responses that won’t inspire confidence. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate your experience and the capability of your business. However, following this structure will also help you when it comes to talking about PPM specifically, as below.
Relationships with your clients are built and trust, and your tender may well be the first interaction between your business and the prospective client. So, consider it an opportunity to make a bold first impression.
If you follow the structure above, you should have no problem inspiring confidence in your audience as you talk about the quality, efficiency and overall strategy of your PPM. You’ll find yourself discussing criteria that includes, but is certainly not limited to:
- Your reputation and experience on similar contracts
- Proximity and availability to the required location/s
- The quality and strategy of your communication
- Your ability to keep up with legal standards and regulations
- The hours you can/are capable of covering
You need to demonstrate that your strategy is capable of fulfilling their requirements, so consider how it connects to these points (and other criteria they may include) with an emphasis on improved quality, enhanced efficiency and optimised strategy. Make it clear that the benefits you experience through automation will translate to your customers, too.
PPM is all about maintaining the quality of an asset and ensuring it experiences as few (if any) breakdowns. It’s also true that regular maintenance can even extend the lifespan of an asset.
After all, customers don’t want to have to deal with entire installations again, whether it’s a system of sprinklers, alarms, or security doors that integrate into their network, so knowing that you’re prepared and capable of monitoring, fixing, or replacing parts is essential.
This commitment to quality can be made more apparent if you discuss additional points, such as scheduling improvements and auto-assigning appointments to the most qualified engineer as well. If you're working with smart devices too, and it’s of significance to your customer, you might benefit from talking about IoT and your integration to work with assets that provide you and the customer with 24/7 365 days reporting on the status of a product.
With these points in place, customers are more likely to be impressed by your commitment to improving and maintaining the quality of their assets.
With automation, it becomes infinitely easier for you to track and manage the appointments you have, whether it's new installations or servicing assets. So, talk about automatic scheduling and how it increases the efficiency, not just of your communication (i.e. sending service reminders to your client), but also works to optimise schedules and prioritise jobs to make sure your engineers are working as efficiently as possible.
Whether it’s indicating that your staff are equipped with the knowledge to accurately assess assets, have optimised routes and notifications helping them get to appointments on time, or integrated with an intelligent database that allows them to deal with admin with the customer swiftly, and easily, these are all important to highlight.
The name of the game here is insight, and as we’ve discussed in previous posts, the more insight you have into things like scheduling, stock, and notifications, the more efficiently you’ll be able to manage your workload and pass the benefits on to your customers as well. Be sure to demonstrate your ability to efficiently track, manage, and schedule the work you’re doing: customers will want to know this information
You can’t just say you have a strategy, you need to demonstrate what it is. One way to do this is, alongside your contracted requirements, discuss Service Level Agreements: commitments you make on a job-by-job basis. Whether it’s the commitment to responding to emergencies within a specific time frame, prioritising regular check-ups for specific assets, or even monitoring job creation to job completion (request to completion time-frames).
Being able to show you have strategies behind your contracted requirements demonstrates your commitment to quality and effort you’ll make to providing excellent maintenance.
It might also be beneficial to discuss how a reduction in admin time and increase in efficiency thanks to automation leads to you saving money yourself, which of course, means you can pass these savings on to your customer. Price is often a significant factor, so if you can demonstrate how you’re able to deliver an optimised strategy, whilst still saving the customer money, it only going to come across as a good thing.
Customers want to be kept in-the-know, so altogether, demonstrate in tender that automated PPM will enable you to communicate with ease. It will show that you are a professional company who takes their role seriously, that you are responsive, transparent, and accurate; you can even provide evidence as well i.e. a description of service level agreements that show you’re committed to specific response times, as well as sending confirmation messages, etc.
Managing expectations is easier if your communication is precise and gives customers a clear picture of when maintenance is going to take place as well. At the very least, customers will expect a clear schedule of when PPM will take place, so they can plan accordingly too, as such, your tender needs to demonstrate that you communicate effectively, considering things like:
- A year-by-year PPM schedule that outlines the frequency of appointments
- Talk about auto-generated updates and confirmations for clarity/transparency
- Talk up the benefits of accurate communication, such as helping a business prevent/prepare for potential downtime, and highlight responsiveness to emergencies
Altogether it’s about demonstrating the high level of care and responsibility you will take and the role of automation in helping you achieve clear, unobtrusive, and insightful communication. You’ll show you can build relationships that are strong, and likely to last.
The rest is up to you. From demonstrating the quality of your customer service, establishing the financial worth of your services, they all have their place when working on a tender.
Ultimately, it’s useful for you to make sure you understand the quality of the service you’re providing and ensure you’re doing everything you can to improve and keep it running efficiently. That’s where automation can be such an incredible boon to your business. An automated PPM strategy will leave you better placed to win yourself some lucrative work. and set you above competition who may be refusing, or outright ignoring the benefits it brings.
For further advice on how you can get more out of tendering, download our Checklist to be sure you’re optimised when you go for tender:
If you’re interested in discovering more about tendering, or perhaps after some additional advice to share with your colleagues, you may be interested in some of the additional resources we have to hand. Check below to see what else could be of use: