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FREQUENTLY ASKED
QUESTIONS

  • What is a retainer agreement?
    In the simplest terms, a retainer agreement allows your team to pre-pay for a set number of consulting hours in advance. We are able to guarantee our availability and provide a wide range of services to your team at an agreed rate over a set period of time.
  • What are the advantages of a retainer?
    A retainer agreement offers a few concrete advantages: You have our guaranteed availability for a set number of hours each month. You can budget your monthly expenses based on the retainer rate. Longer-term support means we can get to know your systems and processes. Our retainer clients take priority over other requests for surge support.
  • When is a retainer the wrong fit?
    Sometimes a retainer can feel like a big empty closet that you'll never be able to fill. If you are on a very tight budget and trying to use up all of the hours in a given month causes you extra stress, a retainer might not be the right fit. Similarly, if you want support for a shorter period of time or for one particular opportunity, a retainer may not be right.
  • What kinds of services are included?
    Generally speaking, a retainer is the most adaptable way in which we work. The specific scope of work can flex to respond to the most urgent or important needs of your team. For example, current retainer clients have included a set number of hours for: Assisting in building a business development strategy Leading relationship management or partnership development Supporting cost proposal development and budget reviews Serving in proposal team roles, as managers or coordinators Conducting landscape or capture research
  • How do your consultants work with my team?
    Your retainer agreement includes a designated Retainer Manager from our team. Working in close consultation with your team, your Retainer Manager will help you prioritize how to spend your available hours for the month and predict when excess hours may be needed to achieve your goals. Our Retainer Managers may execute services under the retainer themselves, but often they are paired with a small team of 2-5 members from our team of about 30 vetted consultants who have expertise in capture, proposal management, technical writing, and other key skills that your team may need access to over the course of the retainer. Whenever an additional member of the Bid Boss team is brought on to support your team, your Retainer Manager will provide them all the background needed on how your team works, what support you need, and any internal processes or systems they may need to access. Our goal is to slot in seamlessly to your team.
  • How long should a retainer agreement last?
    There is no one-size-fits-all solution. We typically recommend a minimum of three months, as that enables our team to get to know yours and really get into a full range of support. Some of our retainer clients have been with us for more than 12 months! For teams which have staffing gaps, including due to parental leave, consider beginning the retainer before your team member departs for cross-training and allowing it to extend after the member joins or returns to your team, to give them a bit of a soft landing.
  • Is there a minimum number of hours you recommend?
    Our base rates for retainers are set on a monthly basis, and we like to adapt them to scale to fit what your team needs. Typically, our clients get the best benefit from a retainer base at 40+ hours each month. For clients looking for more intensive support, we have had retainers with a base number of 120 hours. Don't forget: Part of the beauty of a retainer is that the rate for excess hours is established as part of the agreement. That means it is simple for your team to approve excess hours for a particular month if you have needs that go beyond the base number of hours.
  • How much does a retainer typically cost?
    Great question! This totally depends on the mix of services included in your retainer and the amount of time you would like included in your base number of hours. A typical retainer begins at about $3,500 per month. Due to the efficiencies we can find working with our retainer clients over longer periods of time, our hourly rates for retainers are typically lower than the same hourly rate for surge support.
  • How early in the process should we call you? (i.e., how far in advance do you get booked up?)
    We recommend that you reach out for bid support as soon as you know that you may need support. The sooner that we know, the better. During our busy seasons, we can be booked up three or more months in advance. ​ Due to the high volume of requests for USAID surge support and our knowledge that investing in capture can increase your likelihood of winning by over 30%, we prioritize supporting USAID bids where the request for support is made before the solicitation is released. Even if you don’t need capture support from us, it helps our team provide the best support possible if we’re able to begin planning with you before a solicitation is live. For last minute requests, including those with less than two weeks lead time or those made after a USAID solicitation is released, an urgency premium of up to 30% may be applied to compensate for the necessary changes in consultant schedules.
  • Will you help us identify funding opportunities?
    The Bid Boss Team specializes in supporting our clients in the business development cycle after the donor or specific opportunity has already been identified. When you do need support at the identification stage, we strongly recommend working with our friends at Connective Impact. Similarly, if you need support understanding how to approach partnership development, including building relationships with funders or private sector partners, Connective Impact is a great resource.
  • Do you only work in international development?
    Primarily, yes, as this is the shared background of our entire Bid Boss team. We specialize in donors and funders in the global development landscape, such as USAID, the US Department of State (PRM, DRL, and others), USDA Food for Progress and Food for Education programs, CDC, European Union funders, United Nations and other multilaterals, FCDO and other country-specific bilaterals, the World Bank Group, foundations (major and small family foundations), and corporate social responsibility and shared value funding. We serve both non-profit and mission-driven companies or social enterprises seeking funding from any of these sources.
  • What technical sectors do you support?
    Our team of proposal writers and design facilitation experts represent a range of technical sector areas including agriculture, economic growth, education, entrepreneurship, food security, governance, humanitarian assistance, and health. We also have gender equity and social inclusion technical support baked into all of our proposal support, which is designed to mesh with clients’ in-house gender strategy and expertise and respond to donor requirements. Additionally, our team includes monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) specialists who can support the MEL component of your proposal and MEL section writing.
  • How do your consultants work with my team? 
    We work with a small team of about 30 carefully vetted consultants who have expertise in capture, proposal management, technical writing, and other key skills that our clients need to both meet short-term surge needs and for long-term support in strategy and capacity building. We aim to match the scope of our support to your needs, whether it’s something small like a technical writer to simply jump in on some annexes, or a full consultant team with management, writing, and budget support. Our writers can also draw on our in-house expertise, such as building in a review of the proposal’s gender components with a GESI expert or even providing a final copy edit. We love to take a collaborative approach to supporting our clients while still providing a seamless interface that helps make less work for you. Our team is totally comfortable jumping into your organization’s structures and processes to manage proposals and use technology to connect. And, if you’re thinking about refreshing your business development processes, we can help assess and recommend changes, too!
  • Can you help us develop a budget?
    Absolutely! We have cost proposal experts on our team with experience creating budgets and budget narratives for a variety of donors. We can also help you with developing a suite of budget templates or understanding US government contract rules and regulations if you are new to that process.
  • Do you support proposal recruitment?
    As this is such a specialized skill, this is currently the one part of the proposal development process we do not support. However, we'll help you think through recruitment strategy as part of our capture management and advising support, and then for full recruitment needs we recommend working with our friends at Head Global.
  • What's your win rate?
    Our win rate sits between 10-20 points above the industry standard of about 30%. So many factors can influence the probability of winning for the individual opportunity you’re considering, though! We’re always here to talk strategy if you’re working to increase your organizational win rate.
  • How are your rates structured?
    Typically we provide surge support at established hourly rates, which vary depending on the expertise of the individual required to fulfill the work request and the nature of the assignments. Our rates are in line with prevailing rates for business development support services ($75-180 per hour). An additional premium (10-30%) may be applied for urgent assignments. We do not work based on a performance- or win-based remuneration model, but we do offer a sliding scale option for organizations based in the Global South. We can also work under fixed price contracts, especially for projects where a fixed price model makes the most sense, such as design workshop facilitation, strategy development support, and customized training development. As one other option that you may not have considered, when you have a vacant position on your business development team or an extended period in which you will need extra support, we can provide coverage using a retainer model. This guarantees you a minimum number of hours of support each month to cover any of the daily tasks that would normally be covered by a business development team member.
  • How do you navigate changing schedules?
    We are completely accustomed to the way donor timelines can shift, so we’re always happy to work with you to make a support plan early and adapt it as new information from the donor arises. For our clients who want to guarantee the availability of a specific member of our team for a specific opportunity before the solicitation is released, we require a 20% down payment. This allows us to protect that team member's time and guarantee their availability.
  • What is coaching?
    Coaching is an iterative, interactive process designed to help you make concrete changes to support your goals—both personal and professional. At Bid Boss, we help our coaching clients achieve their goals through powerful conversations that are intended to navigate to the root of challenges, inspire new thinking, and support the achievement of goals.
  • Do you offer individual or group coaching?
    We provide both individual and group coaching services. Our individual coaching is all offered by certified Professional Diversity Coach Whitney Kippes, who maintains active certification with one of the few coaching training programs that fully integrates diversity, equity, and inclusion in its program. We provide team-based coaching using the Gallup CliftonStrengths approach to uncover the talent already inside your team and put it to work in a manner which is both practical and straightforward. Our goal is to support your team in leveraging and applying each individual's strengths based on what we discover together. Our cohort-based Peer Support Networks provide an additional model for those interested in connecting with other individuals who are interested in tackling particular challenges or navigating specific situations. Information on our active cohorts is available in the Bid Boss Clubhouse.
  • What is the objective of a coaching engagement?
    The objective is entirely set by our clients. Our objective is to help you focus on your potential by leveraging your strengths, uncovering what is getting in your way, and targeting the areas that you are most interested in addressing to help you reach your goals.
  • What about confidentiality?
    All individual and group coaching sessions are private to the participants in that session. We fully understand the value of your trust, and we take every measure to safeguard that trust. We will provide information on the ethical code that governs all client-coach relationships we enter. This document lays out our standards, in addition to explaining our mutual commitments and expectations.
  • How often would I meet with my coach?
    We recommend meeting with your coach once per week or every two weeks. Over many years, we've found that this frequency helps us maintain momentum and make lasting change happen. Meeting once a week offers time for reflection and application of learning between sessions, while maintaining the momentum of our work together.
  • Where do I meet with my coach?
    Individual coaching sessions are all conducted virtually using Zoom or Google Meet to ensure multiple options to connect. At this time, we do not offer in-person coaching for individuals. Group coaching, particularly our strengths-based team coaching and cohort-based Peer Support Networks, can be conducted on-site or virtually in consultation with your coach.
  • How long does the coaching engagement last?
    The time frame can vary greatly and depends on a wide range of factors: your goal(s), your commitment and openness to change, your capacity for introspection, your circumstances, how quickly and thoughtfully you complete homework assignments, and other unique factors. We have individuals who come in for a very brief engagement (e.g., one mock interview coaching session). We have others who come in focused on one goal, achieve that goal, and begin work on another goal and then another. Individuals who partner with us in multiple capacities and for multiple goals work with us for a year or more.
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