How to Be Better at Accounting Bids

Matt Shelly
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Very few accounting firms have reached the level of PricewaterhouseCoopers, where the work is steady and accounting jobs are so plentiful that accounting bids are largely a formality. For the majority of accounting firms, it's necessary to get out and put in those bids, hoping to land the contracts that will keep the firm afloat. If you're in the business of competitive bidding for accounting jobs, use this guide to streamline the process that's keeping your company's dance card full.

Every competitive bid is a custom job. While certain prices can be fixed and labor costs just are what they are, it will be necessary to write each of your accounting bids from scratch, since each job is unique. The key to putting together the winning bid package is going to be volume. Find the greatest number of bidding opportunities, and bid on every one you're capable of doing.

It helps to know where the jobs are. Monitor the websites of your target clients. Local governments are great for this, as they're typically required by law to post a public notice of upcoming bid opportunities. Of course, news of impending accounting bids hardly makes for riveting reading, so you might not be able to find the notices in the local paper. Try the smaller trade publications for your region and see if they have anything you can try for. Don't be shy about bidding on the little stuff that your competition might have overlooked. Three small jobs that you win are better than one large job that you just barely miss out on.

Having spotted a number of good prospects for accounting bids, you should now conduct an intelligence operation. That's an exaggeration but not by much. The truth is, your odds of landing the assignment improve dramatically the more you know in advance of writing your accounting bids. You can use legitimate sources to drum up information about the company, its operating budget, and even about the job itself. Are you going to be the first accountant to handle this job? If not, what happened to the last one? Learning in advance that the client severed its relationship with your predecessor because the previous accounting bid didn't anticipate helping with the company's tax filing tells you something you need to know about the job you're bidding on. Tailor your bid accordingly.

Remember to itemize your charges in the bid proposal. While there are different schools of thought on this, any client will be much more comfortable with your accounting bid if you make it clear just what the client is paying for. An up-front attitude toward the job might even give you an edge over a rival with a lower bid, as it demonstrates you're taking the process seriously and anticipating the client's needs.

The process of submitting accounting bids can be complicated and unpleasant. Simply meeting the statutory requirements of a potential client can be a headache in itself. For the careful and well-positioned accounting company, however, going through the motions and landing that contract can mean the difference between success in the field and endless frustration.


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