JetCo Federal President to Speak about Contracting Compliance

JetCo Federal’s President, Sue Tellier, will be speaking about government contracting compliance at a Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) Education Platform webinar on Tuesday, June 30 at 2 PM ET.

The webinar, titled “Compliance Begins Before the Win”, will outline the structure of compliance JetCo Federal has built for federal contracting, which has allowed us to diversify with confidence in a manner that decreases risk. Effective compliance begins before the win, and small size status is not an obstacle to building a culture of compliance.

The webinar is free to WIPP members and is $25 for non-members. You can register for the webinar on the WIPP website.

 

Magnifying Glass

Complex Forecasts and Targeted Capture

Forecasts hold a vast amount of information on what federal agencies will be buying in the future, and there’s no denying the importance that forecast information plays in guiding the direction of government contractors. The United States Code Title 15, Section 637(A) (12) (C) requires that federal agencies prepare a forecast of expected contracting opportunities and make it available to small businesses. But with over 400 government agencies, how does our team get through all that data?

Our capture team uses forecast data to narrow the scope of our work and to target specific agencies. We review past contracts and determine agencies we have already built relationships with. Then, we determine the agencies who are purchasing the products that we are selling. With mutually beneficial agencies in mind, we focus on winning contracts with these agencies instead of data mining over 400 forecast reports. Forecasts are complex pieces of information that can require time and dedicated resources. However, they are integral to being a successful government contractor.

Targeted Capture

After narrowing down the specific agencies we want to work with, our team takes a strategic approach and strives to build meaningful relationships with each agency. Too often while wading through the depths of FAR clauses and the formalities that come with working in the government sector, it can be forgotten that procurement professionals and contracting officers have other important things going on outside of the proposal that is in the forefront of our minds. Our team recognizes this and takes a personal approach when communicating with government personnel. We build a relationship beyond the initial opportunity so that when the next one arises, we already know what the agency needs and can steer our company into a position that can provide accordingly.

The expression, “jack of all trades, master of none,” holds true in government contracting. Agencies are looking for partners that are masters in what they do, not a risky, albeit, low-priced jack of all trades. Using agency forecasts and targeted capture in our processes, JetCo Federal is equipped to be the expert partner that agencies are looking for. Government contracting is not for the faint of heart. It’s for driven companies with a strong past performance who manage complexity daily. We do just that.

Balancing Risk

In the freight markets, ‘expect the unexpected’ has always been sound advice, and especially so over the last few years. From driver shortages and skyrocketing rates to trucking companies constantly looking for freight, unpredictability has become the norm. As an experienced shipper, it’s my job to balance these risks while still delivering products on time, every time. To achieve that level of performance, we have three goals for every shipment: a trustworthy and transparent relationship with our clients and carrier partners; an intentional outlook to confront challenges with creativity; and the enforcement of strict standards for our carriers.

Trustworthy and Transparent Relationships.

JetCo Federal books trucks direct and uses experienced freight brokers when necessary. Because of market overcapacity, trucking companies are constantly looking for freight. This can make it a tough environment for brokers and carriers who are trying to maintain high levels of service at competitive rates. JetCo Federal does business with brokers and carriers that we trust, and have developed both transparent relationships and lines of communication with. This ensures better overall resiliency in our supply chain.

An Innovative Team.

Our team is mighty. Many companies see complexity as a risk, but we have a different approach. We embrace challenges and want to win every, single day. Whether it’s a demanding contract or thorny sourcing problem, our team delivers on time, every time. We apply this same mindset to our logistics operations.

Strict Standards for Carriers.

Fulfilling government orders requires strict government access standards within our transportation department. Agencies such as the Department of Defense have complex rules and regulations when it comes to receiving products from federal government contractors.

Our logistics team takes on these complex requirements, and we have strict standards for our carriers. Carriers play a critical role in these high-security deliveries, and in order to work with us, they must have:

  • U.S. citizenship;
  • No criminal history;
  • A clean driving record;
  • And strong attention to detail as paperwork can be complicated.

Meeting these goals for every shipment allows us to manage risk and create competitive advantages for our customers with on time deliveries, even in unpredictable environments. Our team is dedicated, mighty, and is ready to help your business succeed.

JetCo Federal Office

Our First Government Contract and Where We Are Now

JetCo Federal’s first government client was the Michigan Department of Corrections. They didn’t just need packaging and industrial supplies – they needed a contractor to deliver these supplies correctly. Delivering to a correctional facility is exceptional. The driver must be cleared by law enforcement and may not carry tobacco, a cell phone, or any type of weapon – this includes a multi-functional tool like a Leatherman. The delivery hours are very limited, and every delivery can be postponed or canceled if a lock-down or other security breach requires it. Delivery rules are strict as well. Every truck must leave empty for security purposes, and there are multiple steps in the delivery schedule.

This first client was not an accident. Neither was the second, a complex packaging solution for critical items for the Army. From day one, we didn’t want the easy projects.

In those early days, the company had two stubborn, hard-working, scrappy employees. (It was my husband Jon and I.) Today, we have 12. And I’ve been fortunate to hire in accordance with our values. Every employee we have wants a challenge and takes them on with diligence and scrappiness.

Our clients today are remarkably similar to the original ones in 2007. (Actually, some are the same clients. We earn repeat business. Bragging and proud.) The projects are bigger because we can handle much more scale and our supply chain is deeper and wider.

It’s interesting to me how much the government experience matters across the board. Most of our non-government clients chose us because of our government success. They assume that if the Department of Defense (DoD) trusts us, they can as well. This is a safe assumption, as the DoD expects extreme quality and delivery capabilities.

Recently, I had a proud moment. We were gathering some metrics for our new website, and I saw how many secure deliveries we’ve made in our 13 years of operations. (And we maintained a 98% on-time delivery rating.) We’re still a small business, with the mindset that we’d rather be great at our niche than ginormous. (Check out Small Giants by Bo Burlingham to dive into this topic.)

A small business with mighty capabilities. That’s how I want our customers to regard us. We didn’t want the easy projects then, and we don’t want the easy projects now. Complex is what we do best, and we’ll keep doing just that.

 

References

Burlingham, B. (2005). Small giants: Companies that choose to be great instead of big. Penguin Group. http://www.smallgiantsbook.com/

Quality Products, Quality Systems

Quality must be demonstrated – not merely claimed – to be legitimate. It can be expensive. It requires deep commitment from leadership. It means accountability for every business unit.

Pursuing and maintaining International Organization for Standardization (ISO) registration is the demonstration of these values as operationalized and integrated throughout an organization. ISO registration recognizes the standards that go beyond a selling point: they’re real, they’re tested, and they’re a long-term strategic investment.

Interestingly, effective quality systems help avoid production and supply chain failures. While JetCo Federal initially decided to pursue ISO 9001:2015 registration for credibility, we found peace in the risk reduction and enhanced productivity it brought.

Here are a few observations for other small businesses contemplating their quality systems:

  1. The “operationalized and integrated” aspect of quality management is where quality pays off. When quality is a department, the system fails. When quality is a culture, it thrives and becomes viral. We have quality checks built into sales, compliance, fulfillment, and transportation.
  2. Yes, I said sales. Without an eye for quality in the initial discussions of potential new projects, a sales win can result in an operational failure – one that cuts into profits and damages company credibility.
  3. Like other small businesses, we’ve found process efficiencies and enhanced productivity through our quality management system. It allowed us to clearly articulate our requirements for software to support operations capabilities. We have documented systems and work instructions, leading us to know exactly where we wanted alerts for human intervention.

Our quality management system is demonstrated, operationalized, and integrated. We value our customers and uphold our commitment to supplying the highest quality products both now and in the future.