How Can a Small Business Benefit from a GSA Schedule

Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) are a working way to turn your now small business to something bigger. By carefully considering and using GSA Schedule opportunities, you as a business owner can greatly increase your profits, outcome competition, and create a stable foundation for further growth of your business. In this article we discuss how a small business can become a GSA Schedule contractor and get the most from it.

Check if you Qualify to be a GSA Contractor

Learn do you qualify for a GSA Schedule

Despite what a popular misbelief says, the GSA welcomes small businesses. In fact, federal agencies are obliged to set aside a number of contracts to small businesses, and over 80% of GSA contracts are in fact fulfilled by small businesses.

Ok, so even though you are running a small business, GSA Schedules are certainly for you. But the question is: how can you apply for a GSA contract? Do you qualify by GSA standards to start with? Let’s see.

In order to apply for a GSA contract, a small business must first register and self-certify at the Small Business Administration (SBA) website. But even before that your business must have:

  • D.U.N.S. number. You can get it at Dun&Bradstreet.
  • Specific NAICS codes that correspond to the scope of activity of your business.
  • Tax ID.

Once your business is officially registered, you can register at the System for Award Management (SAM) and apply for a Schedule. However, the GSA has a number of requirements for businesses that aim to become GSA contractors. In order to qualify for a GSA Schedule, a business must be:

  • Financially stable. The company must have a positive balance, and have no debts. High debt-to-equity ratio will repel GSA from doing any business with such a company.
  • Experienced. Your company must be at least two years in business. The experience must be confirmed by financial statements.
  • Matching the scope. Your products must match one or more SINs or subcategories within a certain GSA Schedule Large Category. Basically, you can’t sell heavy machinery to the government if your business is janitorial services.

On top of the above GSA qualification requirements, the GSA also assesses other factors when deciding whether a business qualifies for a GSA Schedule or not, for instance:

  • Past Performance. Every product or service you are to offer to the government must already be provided on the commercial market and have positive testimonials from your existing clients.
  • TAA Compliance. The products you sell to the government must be TAA compliant. Put this simply, your products must originate from compliant countries only. Examples of non-compliant countries are China and India.

How to prepare for a Schedule

Before you get your foot in the GSA Schedule door, you should get yourself prepared. Learn basic terms and conditions, as well as principles of operation of the GSA contracting system. Review sample solicitations. Make a research of the government market. Prepare the necessary documentation. Below is a brief list of what should be done before you apply for a Schedule.

Learning

Price Reporter recommends taking the time to learn and understand the basic information and requirements for a GSA contract, even if you plan to delegate this task to a third-party agent. Make sure to review existing GSA Schedule categories and their corresponding unique requirements. Understand the differences between Large Categories, Subcategories and SINs. Take a look at templates of documents you must upload to the GSA when you submit your offer. Make sure you understand every single line of them.

It is also worth mentioning that reading various resources on GSA contracting such as the Price Reporter blog would also help build your understanding of GSA procurement.

Training

The GSA requires all new contractors to finish the obligatory training. Specifically, you must finish the two free web courses:

  • Pathways to Success. This course explains the very basics of how GSA contracts work. It explains what a GSA Schedule contractor is, how to become one, and how to be successful.
  • Readiness Assessment. This course helps to make sure you are ready for a GSA contract. In particular, you will need to identify your niche (SIN), then find other contractors in your niche and see if you can compete with them.

Preparing

Before you can actually submit your offer to the GSA, you will need to assemble it. This step requires certain preliminary preparations. Aside from filling a number of forms, you will also need to submit a whole lot of various documents:

  • Financial statements
  • Technical proposal
  • Price proposal
  • EULAs
  • Certificates
  • Commercial Sales Practices
  • Price Narrative
  • Compliance documents
  • and so on

A good idea is to start preparing these documents beforehand. For instance, the Financial Statements document requires you to submit audited financial documents for the previous two-year period. Needless to say, gathering these documents isn’t instant. And you may even face some issues during this process, so don’t delay until the last minute.

How to obtain a Schedule

Once you finish with preparations and assembly of your offer, you can submit it to the GSA via the eOffer system. Normally, this process takes a few months or even a year to complete. So it is vital to do everything right from the very first attempt, otherwise you risk losing time and wasting all the effort made.

In general, the process of obtaining a Schedule is as follows:

  1. You prepare and submit your document package via the eOffer system.
  2. The GSA contracting officer reviews your offer and possibly gets back to you if some clarification is required.
  3. Once all the issues are clarified with the GSA officials, the procurement officer starts price negotiations.
  4. As soon as price, terms and conditions are settled, you are awarded a GSA contract.

How to not lose your Schedule

Congratulations on having been awarded! You certainly deserve to open a bottle of champagne. However, even though the Schedule is yours now, this does not mean it can’t be lost. In fact, this happens quite often to GSA contractors. Possible reasons for losing a GSA contract include:

  • Failing to meet delivery times
  • Failing to meet contract specifications
  • Low performance
  • Violation of contract terms
  • Compliance issues
  • Failing to meet subcontracting plan

This is why you shouldn’t rest assured prematurely that your GSA contract is safe and sound. You should pay attention to maintaining it, keeping it up-to-date and compliant all the time. Please consider reading our article about losing a GSA contract where we discuss measures to prevent this from happening.

Conclusion

The government welcomes small businesses to GSA Schedules and encourages them to participate in MAS and apply for a contract. Potential profits are high enough to justify time and effort you invest in obtaining a GSA Schedule. At Price Report, we think that winning a GSA contract is one of the most quick and secure ways to grow a small business. If you have questions on whether this method is suitable for your business too, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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