Lancer Insurance
Monday, June 24, 2024

BY STEPHANIE CARNES

Editor’s note: In the coming months, we will showcase several operators who have successfully bid on government contracts and explore the ins and outs of how to get started. Stay tuned.

The United States government is the largest purchaser of consumer goods and services in the world. For small businesses looking to grow, it can seem overwhelming to market to the government. In the complicated marketplace of government contracts, small businesses often find themselves at a competitive disadvantage when pitted against larger corporations with more resources and connections.

However, registering with the System for Award Management (SAM.gov) can significantly level the playing field. This central platform is not only a prerequisite for bidding on federal contracts but also a gateway to numerous business opportunities and benefits. With more companies in our industry adding bus and shuttle capabilities, the potential for finding lucrative government contracts is significant, and registering on SAM.gov is the first step.

SAM.gov Stephanie Carnes Why Register on SAM.gov?
Access to Federal Contracts
The primary reason for a small business to register on SAM.gov is to become eligible to bid on government contracts. The US government purchases goods and services, ranging from office supplies to large-scale construction projects and yes, transportation. These contracts can be lucrative opportunities for passenger transportation companies.

Compliance With Federal Certification Requirements
Several certifications require SAM.gov registration as part of their compliance. For instance, businesses looking to benefit from the Small Business Administration (SBA) programs, such as the 8(a) Business Development program, HUBZone certification, and WOSB (Women-Owned Small Business) certification must be registered on SAM.gov. Government agencies like the Department of Defense also require registration.

“SAM.gov is not just for contracts. It’s also necessary for applying for federal grants, loans, and other forms of financial assistance.”
Additional Benefits of SAM.gov Registration
Apart from eligibility for federal contracts, SAM.gov registration offers several other benefits:

❱ Visibility to Contracting Officers: Your business becomes visible to thousands of federal buyers. This can increase your chances of being invited to participate in contracts and find subcontracting opportunities.

❱ Eligibility for Grants and Other Financial Assistance: SAM.gov is not just for contracts. It’s also necessary for applying for federal grants, loans, and other forms of financial assistance.

❱ Streamlined Processes: Having a SAM.gov registration simplifies various administrative processes, including the payment process. Registered businesses can receive payments electronically through the system.

Understanding the Registration Process
Step-by-Step Overview
1. Create a Login.gov Account: Before you can register your business on SAM.gov, you must create an account on Login.gov, which ensures secure and private access to government services online.

2. Gather Necessary Information: You’ll need detailed information about your business, including your Tax Identification Number (TIN), your NAICS codes, financial information, and details about your business’ structure and ownership.

3. Complete and Submit Your Registration: Fill out the online registration form on SAM.gov. It’s not the most user-friendly interface, so take your time and be sure you understand what you are being asked.

4. Wait for Approval: After submission, your registration will undergo a review process. Once approved, your business will be registered on SAM.gov, typically within a few days to a couple of weeks. You’ll also receive a UEI number and a CAGE code.

5. Renew Each Year: You’ll receive a notification months ahead of expiration.

Required Information
❱ General Business Information: This includes your business name, address, phone number, and email.
❱ Corporate Structure: Information about your business type (e.g., LLC, corporation) and the year it was established.
❱ Financial Information: Your business’s bank account details for receiving electronic payments from the government.
❱ Ownership Details: Information about key stakeholders and company ownership.
❱ Past Performance: If applicable, details of past contracts or government work to establish credibility.

Leveraging SAM.gov as a Marketing Tool
Once registered on SAM.gov, in addition to applying for certifications and competing for contracts, you can also use the platform as a strategic marketing tool to enhance your visibility. Here’s how to effectively market your business on SAM.gov:

Use the Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS)
When you get to the end of your SAM registration, you will be given the option to create an SBA profile to add your business to the Dynamic Small Business Search, if your business meets SBA’s size standards. The DSBS is a secondary database where SAM.gov registrants can post additional information about their business. This database is used by government buyers and prime contractors to find small business subcontractors for various projects. By optimizing your DSBS profile with detailed descriptions, keywords, and capabilities, you enhance your business’ discoverability.

Highlight Special Certifications and Capabilities
If your business already holds special certifications, such as 8(a), WOSB, Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB), or participates in the HUBZone program, make sure these are prominently displayed in your SAM.gov profile. These certifications can make your business more attractive to contracting officers who are tasked with meeting federal contracting goals for these specific groups.

Optimize Your Profiles
Optimizing your SAM.gov and DSBS profiles is crucial for standing out in the crowded field of government contracting. A well-crafted profile acts not just as a compliance tool but as a powerful component of your overall marketing strategy. Here’s how to make sure your profile is optimized for maximum impact:

↹ Include a Detailed Capability Statement
A capability statement is a concise, one-page document that outlines your business’s core competencies, major achievements, and details about your products or services. This statement should be specifically tailored to meet the needs and interests of government agencies and should align with the requirements of the contracts you are pursuing.

↹ Use Keywords Effectively
Your SAM.gov profile should be rich in keywords that government buyers might use when searching for potential contractors. These keywords should reflect the services and products you offer and match the language used in solicitations. Regularly updating your profile with new skills, services, or product offerings based on emerging trends or changes in government needs can also help keep your profile relevant.

↹ Update Your NAICS Codes
The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes classify businesses based on their business activities. Ensuring that your profile includes all relevant NAICS codes is essential as it increases the chances that your business will come up during searches by contracting officers looking for specific types of vendors. You may only use one NAICS on your federal tax return, but there is probably at least half a dozen that apply to your ground transportation company.

↹ Regularly Refresh Your Profile
Your profile should reflect any changes in your business. Regular updates guarantee that potential government clients are seeing the most accurate and relevant depiction of what your company can do. This includes updating any changes in your business size or status, adding new capabilities, or updating your performance history.

Engage in Targeted Networking
SAM.gov allows you to search for contract opportunities and explore past award information. Use this data to identify which agencies are buying what you sell and who the key decision-makers are. This can guide your direct marketing efforts, such as targeted emails, tailored proposals, and personalized outreach to potential buyers.

Follow Up on Leads
When your business is considered for contracts, whether you win them or not, always follow up. If not selected, seek feedback, and use this as a learning opportunity to improve future proposals. Building relationships with contracting officers can lead to future opportunities, as they will remember your business’s proactive approach.

By treating SAM.gov not just as a registration requirement but as a strategic marketing platform, chauffeured ground transportation companies can significantly increase their visibility and chances of winning government contracts. Take a proactive approach in optimizing and actively managing your SAM.gov profile to set your business apart in the competitive federal marketplace. And if you don’t have the time or desire to take on the process yourself, seek out an experienced procurement professional for help.   [CD0524]
Stephanie Carnes is the spotlight director for the LMC Groups. She can be reached at stephanie@lmcspotlight.com.