Business in Education – Getting through the School gates
6 Aug, 2013
Operations Director, Jennifer Appleton of ISO Quality Services Ltd, recently attended a seminar run by Business in Education . The Seminar was focused on enlightening businesses and how to promote themselves to the Educational sector. More recently, we have noticed a common comment from our clients in which they find breaking into any public sector market difficult. The event itself was well run by practiced speakers who obviously had a wealth of experience. It was highly informative and a great introduction to anyone looking to work with the education sector.
Through this article, we would like to share what Jennifer learnt at the seminar and how best to approach the educational sector.
So what does the market look like?
Local authority schools are given the ability to manage their own financial affairs through the senior management team and the supporting governors. However, what is becoming more and more standard practice is for schools to not only have a Head Teacher, but also a Business Manager (sometimes known as Office Manager or Bursar) to assist with the management of the supply chain.
Most schools are audited to the SFVS (Schools Financial Value Standard) and as such are constantly looking to drive value for money. Note the important difference between driving down costs and driving value for money. Schools are not necessarily looking for the cheapest product / service – value for money plays a very important part of the supplier selection process.
Hints and tips for working with schools
Do your research – Find out when the school is next due for an Ofsted inspection – everything stops for an inspection and therefore this is not a good time to try and contact a Business Manager or Head Teacher. Take a look at the schools website before you contact them – you might find some information that will assist you in choosing your route for contact.
Review their last Ofsted report – It might hold clues as to areas they are looking to improve and if your product or service fits this, you may find you are more successful by mentioning things you noticed in the report.
Aim to try and get invited to attend a Heads’ conference – This way you may get in front of over 500 Heads in one place – Heads swap preferred supplier details, this way you can get yourself recommended.Forget your normal ‘sales-y’ style marketing approach – A good old fashioned letter works well – make it bespoke and unique to the school or group of schools you are targeting.
Be careful when using social media to contact (Facebook particularly) – Schools tend to use this to communicate with parents and may well black list you if you try to ‘sell’ using this method. However, LinkedIn may be acceptable in some circumstances but tread always carefully.
Keep in mind the time of day you try to contact – try to think about what might be taking place in a school day and plan your contact points around this. During the event the delegates were asked to consider when they felt a good time to contact a school was and some useful tips were given around this area.
Be professional and keep in touch – If you do work for a school, contact them on a periodic basis – ask them to recommend you or for a written testimonial.
The above seminar was run by Brett Laniosh firstname.lastname@example.org and was supported by Chris Enwright (Independent Consultant from Learning Enchanced) and Katie Price (Business Manager for Dudley MBC). If you are interested in joining the Business in Education group to attend further seminars and events, we would strongly recommend that you contact Business in Education and join their linked in group to register your interest in attending future events.
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