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How to win business at London 2012

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It’s going to cost nearly £10bn to put on the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The bulk of that money is flowing to companies helping the organisers put on what will be the greatest event on Earth.

Aside from the prospect of some good business, working on London 2012 has fringe benefits. “It’s a huge motivator for staff – people have a lot of pride that they’re working on the Olympics,” says one supplier to the Games, whose name we can’t reveal without breaching his contract with London 2012 (we’ll come to that later). Let’s call him Alan. His IT-based company employs 30 people. “They’ll always have that on their CV, which is a huge plus. And it makes you more attractive to potential employees.”

So who do you call to get a piece of the action? London 2012 is made up of two organising bodies. The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) is responsible for the infrastructure of the Games in 31 locations around the UK. And the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) will run the events.

Staying in touch with the ODA and LOCOG is obviously a good way of keeping track of headline opportunities – so the first step is to sign up for the email alerts and get your profile up, the web site where companies with tenders related to the Games and suppliers get matched together ahead of any formal bidding for jobs (see box overleaf).

Go direct

According to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), more than 1,000 businesses across the UK have won direct contracts with the ODA, through its project management consortium CLM. But remember that the ODA is only going to be dealing with “tier-one” suppliers. So if you don’t have the capacity to fulfil an entire tender, they’re unlikely to be interested. In any case, although there’s plenty of landscaping and transport infrastructure to build, all of the actual venues are now under way.

LOCOG is also issuing tenders, but the bulk of its spending will come in 2011 – for test events and preparing facilities – and in 2012. LOCOG’s work is less focused on construction, and there are likely to be more openings for smaller businesses with specialisms such as marketing, technology and professional services. But the bulk of work will still be handled by top-level contractors.

Sub-contracting

The ODA’s £5bn-worth of contracts have already created thousands of opportunities throughout the supply chain, says the DCMS. Although they’re committed to spreading 2012-related work around the UK and to smaller businesses, the Games agencies recognise that around 80 per cent of the work will be parcelled out to contractors’ existing suppliers. So don’t neglect your contacts book.

“We won the London 2012 business through a large civil engineering company that we’ve built a relationship with over time,” says Alan. “That takes away a lot of the contracting pain for us. When you’re working directly for the ODA, you get thrown boilerplate contracts asking you to meet certain conditions, which are fine if you’re a big engineering company, but tough to manage if you’re small.”

Keep an eye on the contracts that are being awarded – they’re published on the web – and if companies you work with regularly are winning business, get in touch. The contract-win lists will be a useful focus for sales calls, too. And make sure you watch who’s bidding for work. Alan points out that his company’s technology was featured in several main contractors’ bids for Olympic Park work. If you can sell in to all the bidders, you’re on to a winner.

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