It is important that you get your company on every potential prime contractor's Approved/Preferred Vendor List, or something very similar, which lists the vendors and subcontractors that have been approved by the prime for quality, on-time delivery, and other factors.
Each company has its own version of the Approved/Preferred Vendor Application Form, which you can obtain from the prime's small business liaison or purchasing department. The information that you will be asked to provide will vary from prime to prime, depending on the type of work you will be doing.
A few words of caution about filling out the form: Don't think of the vendor approval form as just another formality or just another piece of paper that you can quickly fill out and send it in. You need to be concerned and careful about the information you enter. Submitting a vendor form with a set of numbers missing or filling in the wrong (or illegible) information could end your chances of winning a potentially lucrative contract. Therefore, before you return the form to the prime, make sure that it is complete, correct, and readable. Check it, and then check it again.
Are you on one or two lists already? Well, good for you, but in the long run it will be better for you to try to get on the lists of several different primes. One of the hidden dangers of focusing on doing business with just one or two large companies is that you become too dependent on them. Imagine the shock of losing 50 or 75 percent of your business in one day. And with all your eggs in only one or two baskets, so to speak, you are putting yourself in a position where this could happen. (Sadly, we have seen it more than once.)
This same principle of spreading your base applies to the industries with which you do business as well. It is worth the effort to try to generate business in different industries, if possible, or at least in different segments of an industry.
In the Business Tools area is a Sample Approved/Preferred Vendor Application Form, which is a compilation of all the information that, in our experience, primes are looking for when they want to learn about a new vendor. Although each prime has its own version of the application form, depending on its type of business, this is a good start and might help you fill out the real forms.
As with most situations, if you have questions about the form, you can request help from your local PTAC.
After filing the form, the prime contractor will likely have your company submit to an inspection.