We sat down with Matthew Emmerson, National Bids, Tenders & Framework Manager at Screwfix.
Screwfix is the UK’s largest multi-channel supplier of Trade Tools, Plumbing, Electrical, Bathrooms and Kitchens and operates 570 stores across the UK. Screwfix is owned by Kingfisher plc, an international home improvement company with 1,211 stores in 10 countries and £11.2 billion in annual sales (2017).
Before Contracts Advance how were you sourcing public sector contract/framework notices?
We relied on notifications from approximately 100 tender portals and we also paid for a notification tracker product. Some of the search criteria (both for the paid-for tracker and the manual portals) were not as accurate as we would have liked and therefore we received a lot of notifications that were not relevant to Screwfix.
What was your greatest frustration about working in this way?
We checked the portals first thing and it was a pretty soulless and negative start to the day. The amount of time taken to filter the opportunities and find what we needed was huge when looked at across a month and I have no doubt that we have missed potential opportunities because of the mundane, manual nature of managing our notifications this way.
What were the key factors which gave you the confidence to consider Contracts Advance?
The professional sales approach of the Business Development Manager from Contracts Advance prompted us to review our former approach to public sector notification. It was obvious that Contracts Advance was serious and knowledgeable. We received a trial period where we could play around with the system with a follow-up session with the Contracts Advance team to answer any questions we had. We also came to Contracts Advance HQ in Bath with our bid and business development team to do the 2-hour training session face-to-face. This really opened our eyes as to how we should best approach the public sector market and with this strategy, in place we’re already seeing results.
Suddenly, from a faceless relationships via email with other providers, we had a partnership with a single point of contact within the Contracts Advance / 7House team and were able to draw on their services to support our work winning in the public sector. Our previous providers generally only contacted us to sell to us.
How easy did you find the onboarding process and set up?
Our Client Care Manager set us up within 24 hours; from us sending over our list of keywords to profile activation. With their support the work involved for us to start using the Contracts Advance service was minimal and it’s made a huge difference to us.
What have you found the most valuable aspects of the service?
Firstly the level of support: I called the other day with a question and the phone was picked up by Craig Millhouse (Managing Director), who was able to help me immediately, well after a bit of rugby chat of course! I know that whenever I call Contracts Advance my questions are answered the first time and I am not left waiting for a callback.
The service has saved us considerable time every day and our team was absolutely engaged from the get-go. We have access to not just daily tender opportunities, which we can bid for in the short term, but we also see a forward-looking pipeline of live contacts and frameworks from the point at which they’re awarded through to 6 months from end date – this is perfect for our Business Development Managers.
We attended one of the (Contracts Advance) Bid Managers Forums with other clients where we discussed how each other works into the public sector and issues facing bids & tenders teams across many different industries. As well as networking with the Contracts Advance team we also secured a meeting between one of our buyers and a potential supplier who also uses the Contracts Advance service.
What other Contracts Advance services have you explored?
After using the notification service for a month or so it was clear that Contracts Advance could offer additional help. With the assistance of Chris (Williamson, Business Development Manager) we put together a package which included having two of our ITT submissions proactively reviewed by one of the CA consultants; apart from feedback from the buyers we submit to, we have never had a submission passed over with a critical eye from outside of Screwfix and we expect this to be very beneficial.
We also bought the Spend+ service which allows our Public Sector Account Management team to review how public sector bodies are spending on our product categories. It also allows us to report on what business our competitors winning, which contracts and how much it is worth.
How happy are you to recommend Contracts Advance to a colleague or peer?
There is a definite feel of a partnership between us and Contracts Advance and we expect this to grow over the years. I am already recommending the service to our customers and suppliers and will continue to do so.