Case Study

Supporting incumbent bidders to renew major contracts against tough competition


Our client was the incumbent bidder for 10 years’ security guarding and visitor management at the world’s premier venues where diverse audiences want to learn about art and enjoy it in all its forms. We were called in to help because our client recognised the importance of the customer as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of its security business.

The customer had received an excellent service from our client for many years, but was under pressure from various authorities and legal advisers to source a new security provider in the interests of supplier diversity, and to avoid any perceptions of favouritism. Our client faced tough competition from five other security businesses, all keen to displace the incumbent with creative and competitive bids.

We supported the incumbent to prepare a bid that was compelling due to its innovation, creativity, attention to detail regarding the customer’s requirements, competitiveness, and demonstration of genuine passion for the galleries and other venues. Against many predictions, our client’s bid was successful, most of the tender responses scoring well above those of the nearest competitor’s submission.

Security Guards


We led bid strategy workshops, win theme sessions, Writing Plan development, and response drafting and reviewing. Our role included interviews with subject matter experts, using a coaching style of questioning to gain the most valuable and relevant information with which to draft bid responses. We challenged preconceptions that had become embedded over the years of service, helping us to isolate benefits and the real reasons why the customer should retain its existing security provider. We developed ideas for graphics to enhance responses, e.g. process flows, quality management systems, and change management approaches.


The challenges were significant, including having to ‘unpack’ many years’ ways of working to test that our client’s services would meet the customer’s evolving requirements for the years ahead, and to do so in a short bid period of just four weeks. We knew that competitors would be preparing excellent bids in an attempt to displace our client, so we maintained very sharp focus on obtaining evidence at every turn to corroborate claims that our client’s proposal was the best for the customer. No claims of ability and experience were left unverified, and every individual requirement in the contract and Works Specification was analysed for how our client could excel in delivery.

Our client’s experience in security services enables many of the team members to respond to bid questions by ‘jumping’ straight into the writing. We did not allow that approach on this bid because there was too much at stake, so we showed our client how to plan responses and how to develop and use win themes. This was challenging for some of the team because they had not used that approach before, and we coached the team in this discipline. They now have the skills to use the same rigour and detailed planning in their future bids.


The outcomes were:

  • A winning bid
  • Our thrilled client
  • The customer delighted with the innovation and fresh thinking demonstrated in critical issues including diversity and inclusion
  • A very proud Mercury that helped our client to be so successful

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