How to be Gracious When Losing a Contract

At TAPE, we recently had a contract that we expected would be able to move from an old contract vehicle to a new contract vehicle.

Our contract had ended; the government had given us a six-month extension already, but they could not extend it beyond that because the FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulation) has rules about how long you can extend a contract beyond it’s original terms.

Meanwhile, in the time we had been working on the contract, we had grown beyond the size standard so now weren’t eligible to compete for the new contract. This is a perfect example of a company doing good work and growing themselves right out of work, now ineligible for the protection and opportunities reserved for small businesses. That’s why the MTA is working so hard to protect mid-tier businesses.

Not a great situation, but let’s look at how we handled it. As we realized there would be no extension, we called the prime contractors in the three companies that had contracts on the vehicle where the government was going to take the task order, and we passed along the resumes of our staff people who had been working on the project we were now losing.

As a result of that action and our diligence throughout the process, all of our people were able to find a job either on the new task order when it was issued in this new contract, or on other things that we were able to move them to.

Yes, it’s true that we lost eight positions, but all eight of those people still have jobs, and nobody had even one day of unemployment. And I’m not saying that we’re saintly or anything like that; what I’m pointing out is that however you handle a situation like this is how you brand your business to your employees.

The truth is that as a small business, most of the time we don’t have a place for everybody if we lose a task order or a contract, so when that happens, people’s jobs are in jeopardy. This sends a message to everyone in the company and can make people feel uneasy. That’s not what TAPE is all about.

The government was sorry to see us to go, and we were sorry to be victims of our own success, but we can feel proud of how we took care of our people. And that sent a strong message – to our people, to the government officials, to the prime contractors in the other companies – which we trust will lead to us finding more of the right work in the future.


2 Comments on “How to be Gracious When Losing a Contract”

  1. Bill – you lost a contract, but you created at least 12 friends/fans by my count. I can’t tell you exactly how or when, but your positivity will come back to you.

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