Expert Advice

5 Secrets for a Distinguished Capabilities Statement

Capabilities statements are essential marketing tools for reaching out to government buyers, contracting officers, small business specialists, program managers, and prime contractors.

It’s like a resume for your business. People involved in government contracting on all levels—federal, state, local, tribal, etc.—expect to see these documents from potential vendors. They also expect them to include certain key pieces of information and to be laid out in a certain way, which can be difficult to figure out on your own. That’s where Norcal APEX Accelerator can help!

Download our free template & instruction guide here!

With a new template, we’d like to take this opportunity to also give you some general guidelines to keep in mind when developing capabilities statements and tips for using our template specifically. Also, keep an eye out for our upcoming webinar to help you develop a winning capabilities statement for your business!

Tips for an Effective Capabilities Statement

Consider: government buyers may see dozens of these documents every day. The vast majority will spend less than 30 seconds looking at your capabilities statement to see if you can help solve the demands they face. This means:

1. Convey your company’s value to the reader. What can you do for your customer? See it from their perspective – they want to solve a need and they want to do business with a company that conveys professionalism and trustworthiness.

  • Make sure it conveys your strengths and is targeted to your audience. 
  • Your value to them is not:
    • what government contracting certifications you have (although these may help and should be included in the Company Snapshot section)
    • your socioeconomic status
    • why you deserve a contract as a struggling entrepreneur
    • that you are a family run business, mom-and-pop shop, etc.

2. Use clear, concise language with substantiated claims. Yes, writing in this way is a lot more work since you’ll need to do research and have your company’s information ready to summarize. However, the hard work conveys professionalism and will help your business make a great first impression.

  • Avoid using generic, ‘flowery’ language and statements that you can’t prove. 
  • Instead of “we offer some of the best landscaping services in the Bay Area”, you could write “we have serviced over ### properties for ### satisfied customers, including ## Fortune 500 companies over the last ## years”. 
  • Instead of “we offer competitive pricing” you could write “our starting rates are 10% lower than average quotes for the Tri-County area.

3. Format your document in a well-organized and visually pleasing way.

  • Use columns, boxes, color blocks, bold fonts, bullet points, etc. to visually separate out different types of information. 
  • Our template is meant to do this for you! You can also find other templates and examples online. 

4. Stick to one page. Since buyers typically see a high volume of capabilities statements, you cannot expect them to read a second page (i.e. reverse side if printed). Possible exceptions to the one-page rule include:

  • If you’re going after large, in-depth contracts and you have extensive high-level past performance to report that you can’t condense into one page
  • If you’re a supplier who wants to include your line card on the second page.

5. Create multiple versions. As with a resume, you will want to create multipleversions of your capabilities statement for different situations. You may have one for California agencies, one for federal agencies, one for local agencies, and extras for specific agencies and even specific jobs.

  • For instance, let’s say you offer janitorial, exterior building cleaning, and landscaping services. If you’re going after an opportunity for landscaping, you will want to create a version that emphasizes landscaping in your intro paragraph, core competencies, NAICS/UNSPSC codes, and past performance.
  • If the agency you’re sending it to is a federal agency, then you will want to include NAICS codes (rather than UNSPSC codes), federal certifications, and emphasize any federal past performance.
  • If it’s a California State agency, then you will want to instead include UNSPSC codes and California State certifications instead and emphasize state experience first.

If you are looking for help with capabilities statements, government contracting, or want no-cost help to find contracting opportunities, please contact your Norcal APEX Accelerator/ PTAC counselor for assistance or apply for services today!

If you have more questions, please contact us at or 707.267.7561

Authored by: James Forrest, Norcal APEX Accelerator Procurement Specialist