As the Federal Government continues to feel the budgetary pressures of spending cuts and sequestration, Contracting Officers have the unenviable task of meeting agencies’ missions with fewer resources – leading to an increase in competition and price pressure for Federal contractors, including GSA Schedule contract holders. GSA Schedule contractors who want to succeed in this new paradigm must be able to compete at a higher level against other GSA Schedule holders, other contract vehicles, and other Federal contractors. Having a GSA Schedule contract can be a huge advantage, but only if you know how to position it. Here are some suggestions on how to best utilize your GSA Schedule contracts in our current contracting environment:
1. Know your competition so you can outmaneuver them, for example:
- Which of your competitors have GSA Schedules and which don’t? Keep close tabs on what your competitors are and aren’t offering. All GSA Schedule pricelists are publicly available, so you have access to free market intelligence – take advantage of it!
- Many GSA contractors use the MOBIS Schedule as a catch-all for myriad types of consulting. Consider positioning your services under one of the less well known, industry-specific GSA Schedules such as Financial and Business Solutions (FABS) or Human Resources (HREEO) to reduce your competition. The same holds true for many training offerings.
2. Do you do a lot of business with the Department of Defense (DOD)? If so, check out DOD eMall – GSA Schedule contract holders are eligible to list their products and services on this rapidly growing online shopping site.
3. Expect every Contracting Officer to request additional discounts. Consider offering temporary price reductions to test the waters for a new price point.
4. Make sure your GSA Schedule pricelist is up-to-date and uploaded onto GSA Advantage! GSA is actively removing outdated pricelists from Advantage! and if your catalog is not online, you are losing free advertising and, more importantly, cannot access GSA eBuy.
5. Be on the lookout for GSA Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiatives (FSSIs) related to your industry. In many cases, Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) issued as a part of an FSSI could render your GSA Schedule contract irrelevant if you aren’t one of the selected vendors (see the Office Supply FSSI).
6. Understand the new competition requirements for GSA BPAs (FAR 8.405-3) and why sole-source BPAs will become a rare occurrence; adjust your expectations and tactics accordingly.
7. Make sure that your customer-facing employees, not just your salespeople, are able to explain the advantages of streamlined acquisitions under FAR 8.4 over contracting by negotiation (FAR Part 15); GSA has personnel dedicated to teaching agencies how to purchase from the Schedules – utilize them!