The late, great Whitney Houston famously mused, “How will I know?” Whitney was singing about the uncertainty of love, but small government contractors often ask the same question in a different sense—that is, “How will I know if my competitor is too large for a particular size standard?”
There are plenty of places to research a competitor’s size, but one of the most fruitful may be the competitor’s own website. Of course, small government contractors should be aware that their competitors know how to use Google, too. Often, SBA size protests arise from information a government contractor should have thought twice about posting on its website.
Here are three common website mistakes small government contractors make, sometimes leading to SBA size protests.
- Too-specific press releases. It’s understandable that contractors want to tout their contract awards. But website press releases can backfire when they include information that supports a competitor’s SBA size protest. For example, if a contractor is hiring its project manager from its subcontractor, including the PM’s name in a press release can be trouble, because such a hiring is a risk factor for ostensible subcontractor affiliation. Ditto if the subcontractor will be performing 49% of the work, or is the incumbent prime contractor (also ostensible subcontractor risk factors). Contractors should carefully review press releases before publicly posting them. Or, better yet, consider waiting until the size protest period has expired before posting any press release regarding the contract.
- Touting teammates. So the contractor has a great working relationship with Large Business X. Great. There’s no need to tell the world about it on the website. Too often, small government contractors include a list of so-called “teammates” (or worse yet, “affiliates”) on their websites. Competitors thinking about SBA size protests salivate when they see that page—they read it as a list of potentially improper affiliates. A small government contractor should consider keeping its business relationships under wraps.
- Puffery. It’s the nature of business—any business—to brag a little about one’s growth and capabilities. But small government contractors are only eligible for contract awards because they are small. Statements like “we are the fastest growing company in X County,” have been used to support SBA size protests. A small government contractor should think carefully about whether there is a need to brag about its rapid growth on its website.
“How Will I Know” ends with Whitney still uncertain whether her love interest feels the same way (not that anyone pays much attention to the cheesy lyrics–it’s the gorgeous voice and catchy tune that count). If small government contractors keep close watch over their websites, they may leave their competitors equally uncertain about any potential bases for SBA size protests.