Part 1 (Background Research) is the first of this 3 part article, ‘How to Gain and Keep School Clients’. Part 2 (Initial Contact & Follow Up) and Part 3 (Keeping your School Clients) will be covered in out next bulletins.
Part 1 – Background Research
Schools have suppliers in all areas but it does not mean that they are not open to new suppliers in a wide range of fields. As a potential supplier to a particular school you want to be sure that you are present in their mind.
Before you make contact with the School find out all you can about the school. Visit their website, Google the school and/or go to the My School website (www.myschool.edu.au)
You will be able to find out information about the School such as:
- Religious affiliation and values. This affects the types of supplies they may require, the term dates and hours of the school, and dress codes.
- Special programs or initiatives undertaken. For example if the school is promoting environmental sustainability you may be able to offer products or services which help them. If they promote “Performing Arts” you could offer products which will enhance their performances.
- The name of the Principal and some information about him. This is regardless of whether or not you are dealing with the Principal – it will be useful for future discussions and reference.
- The age of the students – this influences not only the type of products the school needs but also the way in which service providers go about their work.
- The number of students – it gives you an indication of demand.
- Whether the school is co-educational or single sex, and whether or not it is a day and/or boarding school.
- Who runs the school canteen.
- Whether the school is government, systemic or independent. Independent schools have the greatest control over their suppliers, but all schools now have a large degree of control.
- The facilities at the school and plans for future facilities.
- Financial Information – this is available on the My School website
- Depending on the School’s website you may also be able to find out the name of the person you need to deal with. Nearly all school websites have some information on the Principal.
The information which you find out about the school is important. When you meet with someone from the school it means that you will be able to tailor your product to their needs. You will impress if you show you know a lot about your potential client.
Find out the legal requirements for contractors working in Schools, such as a ‘Working with Children Check’ and Police check. Identify how a school environment is different from other environments. There are often restrictions due to examinations or holidays, and hours when children are out and about.
Consider what incentive you can offer which will the cause you to become a supplier to the School … perhaps something for free, an additional service or reduced pricing.
Is this school connected with any other schools which you have supplied to – if so you may be able ask the other school as a referee.