Love Me Tender

There is a certain sameness about tenders. Compliance to the provisions of the tendering process promotes commodisation of tendered documents and the tendering entities. The sole point of difference is the quoted price.


Little wonder the concepts of value, originality, innovation, relationships and negotiated, mutually rewarding agreements are discounted and, often, dismissed.


Politicians may well promote, endorse and revel in “level playing fields”. Commercially, it is an ill-advised limiting strategic option in which there is only one winner... occasionally and rotationally. In the longer term no one wins and costs rise because of unallocated expenses which must be amortised on all projects and stock items.


In the prevailing straitened economic circumstances and with a price sensitive marketplace, an increasing number of business owners and managers are adopting the attitude that they and their entities cannot afford not to pursue every opportunity. Inadvertently, they do so at their own cost and detriment.


Saying “No” and turning one's back on an invitation to submit a tender takes mental strength, a strong and singular focus, complemented by the resilience of a sound corporate philosophy. It is a refreshing, appealing alternative to being one of a long list of compliant, non-differentiated tenderers.


Being the same soon develops into a market image of being... “same ol', same ol'”.


Similar templates and market consequences can be applied to those “bricks and mortar” businesses which choose to compete on price on-line with their global cyber space competitors and substitutes. Street-smart and tech-savvy consumers and clients are well connected, informed, discerning and price sensitive. They are also becoming increasingly numerate. Two-structure pricing policies (in-store and on-line) quickly disconnect the value of brands, services, businesses, physical presence and loyalty.


In the book “The Jindalee Factor” , which provided insights on Australian entrepreneurs, Professor Roger Smith and I were able to highlight the belief of several sustainably successful leaders of commerce that it is prudent not to pursue all available deals.


The profit incentive is not desirable. It is an imperative. Profits pay for premises, stock, staff and service, without which an entity “wilters on the vine” and the client is left unsatisfied and unfulfilled. “Unprofitable profitability” could only ever be considered and accounting term which measures cashflow. One cannot profitably invest cash flows in the long term.


A general slowdown in economic activity accords opportunity to review, refine and develop operations, strategies and to pursue those prospects which represent genuine, on-going value.




There is no tenderness in the tendering process. It is a statistical and historical reality that only a percentage of tendered submissions and entities will be successful and profitable.


One need look no further than the appallingly poor recent track record of major engineering and construction corporations which won business with successful tenders and have recorded consistent, significant and increasing losses.


Losing such tenders has proven to those tenderers who were not granted the contracts to be winners.




Whether the objective is to win custom on-line or in a tender, non-compliance is an appealing attribute because it provides scope for difference, enhancement and betterment




At the very least, entities that are requesting tenders should be made to pay for such. Decisions to participate in tendering processes should, and often can be complemented with a creative drive to find a better, faster and cheaper way than that stipulated in the tender document.


Remember, rules are for guidance, not obedience.


One should never apologise for being original, innovative, creative and profitable. Each is an attribute and building block for growth, sustainable competitive advantage and the delivery of value through quality products, services and experiences, and relationships.