Getting prepared to sell to the U.S. Government is not as easy as obtaining a CAGE Code and off ya go. Taking the time to do a little due diligence by getting prepared, will save a lot of time and headaches down the road.
The fact that you are even here shows your level of commitment to developing a government market for your business, and we would like to thank you in advance for allowing us to be a part of your journey.
We will take you step by step towards getting better prepared for the government; addressing the commonly overlooked things which can create barriers to market entry.
In order to register as an authorized seller to the government, we must first apply and obtain what is called a D-U-N-S number, usually assigned to us within 1 business day of our application.
Now before you begin your registrations we advise getting better prepared by understanding classification codes, in order to maximize your efforts.
Preparing for Government
The North American Classification System (NAICS)
First up is identifying the proper NAICS codes (North American Classification System) that best describes what we offer.
Keep in mind that NAICS codes are a general way of grouping multiple business types together; some buyers use it to indicate process, while others use it as a means of describing end use.
As we move along in government we often find ourselves adding to and/or modifying these codes to coincide with how the government buyers are using them, in terms of what we seek.
For beginners we advise focusing on only those that best describes your company’s offering, and fits into your immediate goals.
What effect does NAICS have when searching for opportunities?
For most beginners, using NAICS is where they start, and they bring in a lot of what appears to be opportunity; only to find they are saying this doesn’t fit more than, “hey we can do that!”
Of the two classification codes we use, the NAICS will have a bigger reach, covering the entire spectrum of government activity.
Here’s a handy Government Site that allows you to use ‘keywords’ to better explore your NAICS codes for your government profiles. Be sure to identify multiple codes that your opportunities could post under.
You are looking for a primary code the best represents your business as a whole, then pick a few of the other ones that may also contain opportunities.
As an example: A machine shop would have the primary NAICS of 332710, if they hold tight tolerances they would also have 332721.
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The Federal Supply Class
The easiest of the classification codes to understand would be the FSC (Federal Supply Class) codes. These codes relate more to the description of what exactly, we produce or can produce.
The FSC is divided into two categories; the first being the group and the second being the class.
For example, we offer brackets so our group would be 53- Hardware and Abrasives and the class would 5341 – Brackets. So ‘53’ is just another way of grouping and the class makes it more specific, but we always express it as- FSC 5341.
What effect does FSC have when searching for opportunities?
For beginners we recommend using these types of searches. This market is easier, less complicated, consistent on where information is to be found, and repetitious in process. Making it a great market for learning!
Anytime we search using our supply class, we are in fact limiting our search to one Agency- the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), more often the bid board (more on this later in our series).
While the FSC is a better way to search of our codes, it is important to know that we are not seeing the entire market with this type of search.
Product Service Codes
The Product Service Codes (PSC) describe products, services, and research and development (R&D) purchased by the federal government. These codes indicate “WHAT” was bought for each contract action.
Basically we consider these codes for services. As an example; Our engineering department can take part in R&D contracts. Maybe you rebuild electric motors, these codes would also be of interest to you.
What effect does PSC codes have when searching for government contracts?
FedBizOpps allows us to search opportunities based on our PSC and will produce service oriented contracts, this does include part repair and modifications.
By better understanding your NAICS, FSC and PSCs you are able to provide better government profiles; gaining better exposure. It also allows you to capture more viable opportunities, efficiently.
Need help in identifying your FSC or PSC? We found a site by Outreach Systems to be extremely helpful in providing a listing of the various FSC and PSCs, including brief descriptions.