What is a GSA Schedule contract?
The General Services Administration oversees the GSA Schedule program and awards the coveted 5 year Multiple Award Schedule (MAS Contract), aka “GSA contracts”.
What is a GSA contract? Let’s put it this way; Imagine if the largest buyer in the world had a secret way for small to medium sized businesses to circumvent all of the back room good-ole-boy deals and do business DIRECT with the small business owner without the red tape. Now imagine if they loved this secret program because it was cheaper, faster and far less risky and included guaranteed fast payment to vendors, who by the way, are averaging more than $2,000,000 per year in revenue! Got it? Now imagine no more because THAT is a GSA Schedule contract.
The GSA Schedule program represents the fastest and most affordable way for businesses to win lucrative federal contracts. But you must “win” the contract by completing the GSA’s massive solicitation and submitting it for award. The process includes a negotiation of pricing, terms and conditions. The resulting award gives the government your best price for 5 years and can be renewed by you for up to a total of 20 years. And don’t worry, your pricing can change as your business changes.
How is it possible?
The program’s concept is very simple. You must be in business at least 2 years, have grossed at least $150,000 in sales, have happy customers and be willing to offer the federal government your best price. Once you win your 5 year contract, you are now considered an elite vendor with preapproved pricing. Your products and/or services are catalogued in the GSA E-Library for easy review by buyers and procurement officers. But don’t get too excited, yet. While the GSA does guarantee that they will utilize your contract, getting into the program is not easy. Many companies have thrown hundreds of thousands of dollars and several years into winning only to come up short. The GSA rejects most businesses at least once. Their requirements are difficult to interpret and they change the language in their solicitation many times throughout a business’ pursuit of the award. That leaves two questions; Is it worth the trouble?
How do I get on Schedule?
Yes. For businesses that win their 5 year contract, they are now playing in the largest spending sandbox on Earth. Just last year the GSA spent more than $34 BILLION in this program with mostly small businesses. They are projecting significant increases in spending over the next 10 years as more agencies move more of their budget into the GSA Schedule program. In early 2015, the GSA stated that they wanted to see a 22% increase in spending on the GSA Schedules. As it stands today, that would equate to “system overload”. There are not enough vendors to handle that much spending. And for the business owner that desires to find target rich markets to sell more stuff into, that is music to the ears. More demand than supply. And that vacuum will be filled. The upside is too significant to ignore. Yes. Yes. Yes. It is worth the trouble.
Getting the contract awarded is, of course, going to be harder than you think, cost more than you would like and be more frustrating than anything else you will ever do for your business. Just finding the starting line is going to be tough. Find and download the solicitation. It is different for every industry. There are more than 35 unique schedules including the medical schedules managed by the Veterans Administration. Start there. Review the categories and determine if and how much of your products and/or services are being bought. Are your competitors there? How many companies does the GSA already have under contract in your market? You need to do an assessment. This can take time, expertise and cost money.