This is the third in a four-part series on Big MACs (multiple-award contracts). For part one, please click here. For part two, please click here.

A small group of awardees on a given MAC will earn the lion’s share of the total value of all MAC awards. For example, the top 15 MAC incumbents in fiscal year 2017 earned nearly 21 percent of all MAC dollars spent.

To further underscore this point, the top 10 businesses on Alliant Small Business and CIO-SP3 Small Business earned 50 percent of all contract dollars in FY17. So, how do a select group of companies earn most of the dollars on a given MAC, and what can other companies learn from their success?

1. They understand their customers

All the top MAC earners (Leidos, Booz Allen and Hamilton, CSRA, Northrop Grumman, CACI, etc.) have account managers, program managers, or business developers that are dedicated to maintaining good business relations with a specific segment of customers.

They understand the customer’s objectives, operations, budgets, constraints, etc. They routinely meet with customers to learn about their requirements and offer recommendations for accomplishing the requirements that exceed the customer’s expectation within acceptable levels of risk.

They support professional organizations in the customer’s areas of expertise and their employees are recognized as thought leaders in the profession. They also have a reputation for reliable performance at a reasonable price.

2. They acquire top talent to develop business and manage their MACs

All the top earners retain a team of talented business development and proposal professionals, ranging from program managers and account managers to capture managers and proposal managers.

Their team members have years of experience and specific expertise, and have earned relevant industry certifications. If you want to compete against these companies, you must bring your A-game. Either hire the top talent or bring it in on a temporary basis.

3. They acquire the most lucrative MACs as well as a range of other MACs to bring in business

Not all MACs are of equal or similar value, and top earners acquired some of the most lucrative MACs. According to Bloomberg Government, "In fiscal 2017, the top five MACs (IT-70, Seaport-e, Patient Centered Community, DLA Fuels, and SEWP V) accounted for 18 percent or [$22.5B out of $125B of total spending] of MAC spending, up from 17 percent in fiscal 2016."

Of the top 15 MAC earners, 53 percent had more than 100 MACs. For example, Booz Allen and Hamilton maintained 265 MACs, Leidos maintained 256 MACs, and AECOM maintained 214 MACs in FY17.

4. They acquire companies with valuable MACs

The top earners frequently acquire or merge with companies to acquire valuable MAC business and increase their market share.

For example, Leidos’ acquisition of Lockheed Martin’s federal information technology business in 2016 helped propel Leidos from $1.6 billion in earnings in 2015 to almost $6.8 billion in 2017. (Source: Washington Technology’s list of the Top 100 Companies in 2013, 2015, and 2017.)

5. They jointly market with the MAC Program Management Office

Anytime a government marketing organization or professional society is holding a notable event, you will see sponsorship and participation by significant MAC holders. These marketing efforts build brand awareness and provide MAC holders with the opportunity to establish relationships with government executives.