Case Study - Business has year-long celebrations

Despite challenging economic times, 2011 has delivered significant business opportunities for one Scottish company thanks to landing its first public sector contract.

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Irvine-based Sercon Support Services Ltd, which employs over 165 staff and provides a range of services including general and deep cleaning, support services such as pest control and window cleaning and a range of security services, has had a year of celebrations.

Marking its 10th anniversary, as well as its first local authority contract which was secured in February, it has gone on to be an award-winning business thanks to its recognition for Excellence in Customer Service in the Ayrshire Business Awards 2011.

Sercon won the North Ayrshire Council contract through Public Contracts Scotland (PCS) – the Scottish Government’s flagship procurement portal – with the support of Supplier Development Programme (SDP), a local authority partnership programme established to offer small and medium-sized enterprises the opportunity to grow and diversify through procurement. 
 
Following the three-year contract with North Ayrshire Council to deliver an emergency response service to council buildings across the region, Sercon has gone on to win five further public sector contracts. Among the wins are three Quick Quote successes with North Ayrshire Council and South Ayrshire Council, as well as a further contract with North Ayrshire Council for cleaning services.

Two weeks ago, the business secured yet another new win through the PCS portal, with an Edinburgh-based housing association. The change in business strategy to diversify away from solely dealing with the private sector means 16 per cent of Sercon’s expected year-end results of £2 million will be attributed to public sector contracts. 

Lorraine Stevely, managing director of Sercon Support Services Ltd, said: “As a business we had no experience of tendering for public sector contracts so we engaged extensively with external agencies such as SDP, North Ayrshire Council Economic Development team and Business Gateway, as well as attending Meet the Buyer events hosted by PCS.

“The help was invaluable in transferring our skills and strong experience from the commercial sector to that of the public sector – I think this combination of support and business experience definitely contributed to our first local authority contract win.

“Since registering with PCS we have continued to learn and improve our approach and offering when tendering for business. We have improved our conversion rate for Pre-Qualification Questionnaires and are increasingly ranked in second place at the final stages of the tender. If we don’t win the tender, we always ask for feedback so we can put forward a stronger offering the next time.

“Unlike working in the private sector, the PCS portal delivers business leads straight to the desk, and we have appointed a team dedicated to following up potential opportunities. I would recommend to any business, particularly SMEs to approach relevant agencies for support and get as much assistance as possible in maximising their chances of engaging with the public sector.”