EP 6 - What to include in your tender return?

A tender return is much more than a price you simply submit. It should tell a story about your company and your evaluation of the client’s project enquiry.

Here I discuss what to include and how your tender return can help navigate your prospective client to making a decision.


So you’ve received a tender from a new client, completed the pricing, and you’re ready to submit – the next step is for you to compile your tender return – so what does this look like?

Your tender return should be built around framing your company as the right fit for the project and put the client in a position to make a decision – or at least 99% close to making one.

For a client to place an order, they need certainty on these four things:

There will no doubt be an element of discussion around these areas post-tender submission, but you need to do all you can to help position your business as the less riskiest and most proceedable option.

With this in mind, your tender return needs to be as comprehensive as possible – here’s what you should include:

      Covering letter: A covering letter with a brief of the project and the scope you’re proposing to carry out will display to the client you’ve understood the project in detail, and you’ll be showing a level of professionalism that will elevate you above the others who simply return a price.
      Programme: Programmes are often a moving target which can make it difficult to define during the tender stage. However, an indicative programme including phasing and duration for your works will go a long way to help the client make a more informed decision, and you’ll show that you’ve put thought into how you will deliver the scheme. Don’t forget to include any long lead-in items that need design or approval – by identifying this with the client, it may help speed up their decision-making.
      Qualifications: Qualifications are really important, particularly where you’ve had to make an assumption or need to clarify an alternative spec. This will make the process much cleaner, and the client won’t look kindly if you state you’ve allowed for something completely different once negotiations have progressed, as it will hold up the procurement.
      Attendances: are there any specific items you have excluded that the client has requested, or are there items you need the client to provide? By creating a simple table in your tender return, you can define these allowances easily so the client clearly understands the expectations of both parties.
      Case studies: a case study is a powerful form of sales literature that rebuffs your expertise. Choose one or two cast studies that are similar to the scheme you’re tendering, and then add another that is completely different but equally impressive. By doing this, the client better understands your capabilities and can see you’re competent at delivering other types of schemes.

These five items help cross off the four key criteria that a client needs to be able to place an order. There will no doubt be some further negotiation and discussion around alternative specs, scope allowances, and programme, but by doing a thorough tender return, you’re displaying a high level of professionalism and putting your company in the best possible position.

There may be further information to include in your return as a requirement from the client, such as a contractor’s proposal, or a form of tender, so keep an eye out for these items because, without it, some clients won’t accept your bid.

The Takeaway:

If you simply submit your price for a new client, you’re hoping to win a project based purely on your price alone and not the approach, professionalism, and profile of your business.

A comprehensive tender return will help elevate your business above others and instil confidence in the client that you’re the right choice.

I’ve added a link in the video description where you can get a FREE copy of a tender return template which includes the covering letter, price summary, indicative programme and more.

Related resource

Tender Return Template

Here’s our tender return template to improve your company image and help you win more work!