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The Quick Start Guide to Community Bid Lists

One way to grow your business and expand your community involvement is to become part of your town’s supply chain. Most towns, cities, counties, and parishes have a process for local businesses to participate, and many have requirements to buy from local vendors when possible. The local bid lists can be your entry to that revenue channel.


Working With Your Local Government

The path to working with your local government will take some research and patience. While the requirements are as diverse as the communities, there are some commonalities. It begins with where you operate. Use your favorite search engine to identify the governments and buying districts that form your opportunity. In urban and suburban settings, you will uncover a plethora of entities. Sometimes there are school districts, fire districts, special arts districts, and other specially designated geographies that manage their print buying. Buying is often managed at the county level if you operate in rural areas. Search prompts like “community bid lists near me” or “community purchasing systems near me” are a terrific way to start.


The Importance of Learning About Each Bid List Organization

Once you know which bid lists are available, learn how those organizations operate. Some post solicitations and expect bidders to find them, while others actively solicit bids from known interested parties. In smaller organizations, a designated print buyer or procurement manager may handle all print and communications service requests. In other places, there may be specific departments or committees responsible for diverse types of printing, like business collateral, signage, and special print requirements related to events. You may be able to register your interest in providing services directly, or they may ask you to work through a bidding platform.


Learn the Bidding Platforms and Processes

Buyers of all sizes use platforms like BidNet, BidClerk, Planit, and BidSync. Many community organizations and governments rely on these platforms to aggregate bids for projects to eliminate concerns about favoritism. Even when these platforms are in use, it is essential to contact the buying organizations to learn if you must be invited to their bid processes and to understand their protocols and deadlines. 

Community bidders are often considered public information. If this is true in the market you serve, research who is already on the bid lists to identify how your strengths rate in the mix and potential gaps you can fill. The degree of competitiveness will depend on the market you serve and your product catalog. Build a concise presentation highlighting your print capabilities, competitive advantages, and experience with similar projects. If there are opportunities to present your business to the buyers, take it! Don’t hesitate to reach out to the buyers but do be considerate of the rules and constraints they work within. 


Marketing to the Community

As you journey into this revenue channel, take a step back and review how your business is seen from the outside. Review your website to ensure that it accurately reflects the services you provide. Add sections to cover your community involvement, local businesses you serve, and customer testimonials if you don’t have them. Show samples of your work in the community and offer consultation to potential customers. 

Get out into your community and be visible. In addition to community bid lists held by governmental organizations, dozens of associations, fraternities, and clubs often use similar print-buying processes. These buyers prefer to work with businesses that are involved in the community. 

Responding to Bids

Don’t forget that finding the bid list is only the first step. How you respond will be important. When invited to bid, ensure your proposals are well-written, professional, and address the project requirements. While it is tempting to build a template and use it for every opportunity, read the solicitation carefully and respond to all questions and requests. Failure to respond specifically may take you out of consideration. Large buying districts may use review programs trained on the solicitation and only allow those that comply with the requests through to a second round of consideration. 

Once you are in the running, keep an eye on your email and phone in case there are questions. Being responsive is imperative! You may not win the first or second bid, but the more you bid, the more visible you will be. If you need help building a bid, talk to your 4over team to define the best products to offer and how to build a perfect bundle for the bid!

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As one of North America’s largest trade-only printers and a trusted source for print fulfillment since 2001, 4over helps print, design, and other creative services resellers grow profitable businesses. We do this by offering a vast selection of quality print products at guaranteed trade-only prices. Our expansive e-commerce catalog includes everything from standard marketing collateral like business cards and brochures, to harder-to-find specialty, large format, and promotional products.

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