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How to Win a Joint Use Bid

Updated: Mar 5

In the interest of not wasting your time, this isn't really about how to submit a dynamite proposal and win a bid. Below, I outline an approach that I know will get your team a seat at the table for future RFPs. You'll have to take it from there.


In my time at Katapult, I've gotten to work on a handful of RFPs to manage pole attachments for IOUs across the country. If the opportunity isn't in our backyard, we try to partner with or defer to one of our customers who actively serves the territory in question. 


We've been fortunate to serve a local power company and its pole attachments program for the past decade, and we also have a unique perspective from supporting software subscribers who use Katapult Pro to manage, engineer, and deliver joint use data across the country.


These contracts are highly valued because they represent consistent, sustained work in a set footprint. Additionally, having an MSA in place with a utility sets your team up to provide other services to them.

This paradox ("you get utility work by already having utility work") led me to one of my early frustrations about the industry: it's really hard for incumbent vendors to be disrupted, even when their work and pricing are subpar.


Show Up Where It Counts

There are ways to tackle this, of course. If you want to have a seat at the table, you can focus on business development and have high-EQ leaders finding and nurturing relationships in the markets you want to serve. You can focus on marketing and leverage editorial SEO to stake your firm's claim as an expert in the topic. You can focus on operations, building the perfect machine that provides a price and quality of work that others can't compete with.

 

The list of tactical approaches to the problem goes on and on. What we've seen work more consistently than anything else, however, is showing up in their footprint on behalf of an attacher and delivering better data and engineering than any other applicant—and better than their current engineering vendors, too.


Address the Industry Needs

An extension of this is becoming an approved one-touch make ready contractor. If you're not up to speed on OTMR, it's a protocol for pole attachments that allows a single vendor to perform simple make ready work on a pole as opposed to bringing one truck at a time to move existing attachments and install the new one.


The recent FCC orders and rulings encourage pole owners to curate a list of preferred vendors who can perform simple make ready engineering and make ready construction work in their footprint. If a utility doesn't have a list, attachers are technically allowed to bring their own contractor provided they are in good standing and have a clean safety record. There is an abundant need for this type of work as attachment applications flood joint use departments across the country.


A quick aside: "joint use departments" is a generous way to describe how these functions are typically staffed—often just a single rockstar carrying the load on top of other key job responsibilities!


I believe in this path to success—and I would recommend it to any of our customers who are looking to tackle a big contract with an IOU in a major market. Start by submitting great applications with defensible, transparent data and engineering. Then, help reduce the flood of applications (just wait until BEAD hits) by providing one-touch make ready services. 


I suspect doing these two things well will provide more opportunities than your team is currently prepared to deal with.


That's my hypothesis, and I think it's the fastest way to go from submitting applications to managing them on behalf of a utility. Every few years, these contracts go up for bid, so tackling OTMR today will set your team up to be invited to bid on RFPs tomorrow and beyond.


Winning the bid is up to you!


To learn more about Katapult's methods and tools, contact us at sales@katapultengineering.com!

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