Applying for a GSA (Government Service Administration) contract will open your small business to many opportunities and give you a competitive edge over the 30.7 million small businesses registered in the U.S. Once you’re on the GSA Schedule, federal agencies can purchase products and services directly from you via the GSA Advantage platform.
The perks of holding a GSA Contract are lucrative but difficult to come by. The GSA application process involves a lot of paperwork to satisfy many pre-qualifying conditions that are required before your GSA application is approved.
The following tips will help you prepare well for the rigorous GSA application process.
1. Engage Professionals from a Business Certification Center
There’s so much paperwork involved in GSA applications, and you may miss some important details. Many business owners who make GSA applications without extensive research or professional help from business certification experts end up with rejected applications.
Business certification experts will help you determine if you’re qualified for a GSA Schedule even before you start the application process. Certification experts will help you get all the information needed in order before you start the process. These are financial documents, compliance with the Trade Agreement Act, documented history of your business, and proof of the commercial availability of your products and services.
Business certification professionals will advise if you should also apply for MBE certification (Minority Business Enterprise certification), SBA 8a certification (Small Business Administration), or DBE certification (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise). It requires a deep understanding of the small business certification process to apply for the appropriate certification. Luckily, the top business certification centers will have your back.
2. Be Sure That Your Products and Services Are Wanted by Federal Agencies
The GSA will only approve businesses that sell products or offer services that are useful to the federal agencies. Some categories that GSA approves include cleaning supplies, hardware and tools, machinery and components, industrial products, fuel management, and fire rescue and safety equipment.
There are hundreds of other sectors and categories of goods and services that GSA approves. That’s why you must first conduct thorough research to establish if your company’s products and services are featured in GSA’s MAS categories (Multiple Award Schedules).
3. Prepare Your Financial Documents In Advance
Once your GSA application is reviewed and approved, you must share your pricing information with the GSA when negotiating the terms of your schedule agreement. As such, you have to know your numbers well so you have a fair GSA contract.
The principal purpose of the GSA schedule is to ensure that the approved vendors offer favorable pricing and terms to the government. You must therefore honor the terms in your GSA contract for five years, which is how long your GSA contract will last unless extended.
You have to prove that your suppliers will also honor the terms agreed in your GSA Contract. Once you’re an approved GSA vendor, GSA auditors can access your books of accounts without prior notice when it’s needed. So, you must keep your finances updated even after your GSA application goes through.
4. Be Ready to Pay the Government a Contract Access Fee (CAF)
A quarterly contract access fee of 0.0075% applies to the total sales you make to the government. Your accounting system should factor in this fee so that you don’t make accounting errors. The fee helps the government sustain GSA’s procurement process.
While having your GSA application approved will open your business to more opportunities, it doesn’t guarantee a sales increase. It gives you preference over other businesses during government procurement, but it’s up to you to build working relationships and get business.
The hardest parts of the GSA application process are preparing and submitting the application as well as answering GSA’s questions once they approve your application. That’s why you must be fully prepared before you put in your application. Luckily, professionals from a business certification center will assist you through the process.