As Denis Thornton sees it, a strong service ethic is crucial for success in customer facing companies. Thornton established Evince Systems in late 2009 to help small companies tender successfully for government contracts. ‘‘You have to be fanatical about really caring for the customers you have, not just new customers.
‘‘For example, many of my customers phone me up for advice when they are bogged down in a tender and I am always happy to chat with them whenever or wherever I happen to be,’’ he said.
Before establishing the company,Thornton spent five years evaluating tenders in a British government department. He then spent time working as a consultant to companies like General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and Hewlett Packard.
‘‘I realised that a €100,000 tender was just as difficult to put together as a €100 million tender. The difference is that companies bidding on smaller value contracts tend to have less experience and are reluctant to spend big money on consultants. For the price of about an hour of a consultant’s time, our system guides you through all the key aspects involved,’’ he said.
Evince has developed Bid in a Box, a tender project management system, designed to help companies manage and structure the processes involved in putting together competitive government tenders.
‘‘The Bid in a Box has all the expertise I have in creating and evaluating tenders boiled down in to a series of guides,software tools and video tutorials,’’ said Thornton.
‘‘There are three folders bid activation, bid development and bid output and you can use the elements in each to start building a tender. It can be used for tenders of any size, from a €500 million project to an SME tendering for the first time. I used the system myself to help manage the winning tender for the Irish Coast Guard Helicopter Service, which was awarded this summer.’’
Evince offers a certain amount of information for free online, to attract potential clients.‘‘We give away a lot of valuable information for free. People can access an e-Book and 20 video presentations by visiting www.winningtenders-withoutconsultants.com,’’ said Thornton.
The company employs five people in sales, technical and customer relations, but the company does not operate out of a traditional office.
‘We do not need everyone to be located in an office. We meet when required, but usually communicate online, using e-mail a lot, collaborating via Google calendar and conference calling using Skype. This cuts out all the overheads that come with an office, which can be a key drain on any start-up,’’ said Thornton.
He advised other entrepreneurs to take the same approach keeping operating costs at a minimum at the outset.
‘‘I am not a fan of government hand-outs to enterprise, which always struck me as a contradiction in terms. Also, debt can bog you down and create a risk-averse mentality. The company has been entirely boot-strapped using my own resources. Online resources such as smallbusinesscan.com have been really useful for things such as developing our website,’’ said Thornton.
For all your business news visit The Sunday Business Post