Businesses approaching schools – points to consider

• The best person to approach in most situations is the school’s Registrar or Financial Manager. That is certainly the case with primary schools. Some Middle and Senior Schools may have a person other than the Finance Administrator delegated to handle contracts. That would be passed onto you on inquiry by whoever answered your call if making contact by phone.

• My thought would be that you phone and ask for an appointment to share your business proposition. The school type and size will determine who you speak with when an appointment is made.

• You might offer to share your website ahead of any meeting but in any case that address would probably be on your business card.

• I always respected businesses approaching our school to have arranged for referees contact. (Sometimes referees who are contacted can be surprised by the fact they have not been asked to provide feedback to an enquiring person.)

• Schools quickly turn off approaching businesses which take too much time to carry out work once a job has been arranged. At Leanyer, we went through a number of plumbing contractors before settling on Town and Country. T and C were always prompt, staff were courteous and worked around our school timetable. Accounts were clearly explained and charges reasonable. I think Leanyer still uses Town and Country.

• The impression left by those carrying out work is important. Language levels and ‘quality’ comes into play. Dress codes need to be appropriate to a school environment and it is important for workers to sign in and out before work is undertaken and once the job is complete. Ochre cards are usually requested even when direct contact by workers with children is not envisaged.

• Registrars and administrative staff have strong network connections with peers in other schools. Conversations might well embrace a comparison of the way in which contractors carry out work in particular schools. That ‘word of mouth’ contact can be both positive and negative, and may determine whether a school will or won’t approach particular businesses to carry out work.

• Schools value contractors who offer a decent level of service at a fair and reasonable price. There are some who think that schools can afford any level of charge. In these days of budget stringency that is far from being the case.

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