Most companies interested in contracting with the State of California know they must partner with a state-certified Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise (DVBE) to meet a minimum three percent participation goal.
The intent is admirable but it’s often considered as a necessarily evil.
However, it’s time for companies to rethink how they approach and identify their potential DVBE contract partners in order to turn this requirement into a secret weapon to success.
It goes without saying that state-certified DVBE vendors can and should deliver value, expertise and excellence just like any other trusted business partner — if not be held to an even higher standard. Following are some tips to help you identify the right DVBE certified contractor and turn your next vendor partnership into an untapped strategic advantage.
- Success first, certification second: Your best bet is to look for a vendor that was an established and successful company BEFORE becoming state certified as a Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise. This way, you’ll avoid inadvertently contracting with a low-quality vendor that established a business specifically to leverage their DVBE status. We know, it’s happened before.
- Longevity speaks volumes: It’s not an accident that the most successful businesses — large or small, DVBE certified or not — have been operating for some time. Seek out potential vendors with at least 10, 20 or even 30+ years of trusted experience. They’re out there, and thriving.
- Ask for referrals and follow-up on references: A proven track record is the single best way to avoid partnering with a DVBE vendor that over-states their capabilities during the bidding process only to fall off the radar after the contract is awarded. And while it’s easy to get caught up in the flurry of activity needed to respond to a Request For Proposal (RFP), take the time to ask other trusted business partners for referrals and connect with their references. Every one, every time.
- Find a vendor that understands the work always comes first: The very best DVBE vendors not only work diligently to deliver on the objectives but strive to over-perform in appreciation to the company that chose them as a trusted partner in the first place. Yes, they do exist.
- Think big picture: Instead of looking for a DVBE vendor that provides a single service or that operates in a well-defined niche (that presumably can do the least damage), find one that has the expertise, capability and flexibility to fill in any unforeseen gaps you may need to get the work done. And prepare to be surprised.
Keep in mind, there’s no reason companies must adhere only to the minimum DVBE participation goal. Once you take the time to research, probe and strategically identify a DVBE partner, you might just realize the three percent isn’t nearly enough.