Working closely with hundreds of schools across the country, we know only too well the financial challenges facing the majority of schools - primary, secondary and academies. The recent Budget provided little relief or reassurance to schools about future funding.
It is therefore the responsibility of schools and, in many cases school business managers, to manage finances effectively and ensure good value for money is being achieved at all times. We know that there are many schools that are already doing this….and doing it well, but it is always worth considering whether more can be done.
Speaking recently at the Education Show in Birmingham, I highlighted some simple steps to help schools achieve big savings. By buying better, schools can really maximise resources.
So how can schools buy better?
- Don’t do it alone - Think about collaborating with other schools or academy trusts to combine your buying requirements. Bulk buying on essential classroom resources is a very effective way to save money.
- Plan ahead - By forward planning, you can be confident that your school is getting good quality products and services at a competitive price. Don’t be lured by attractive pricing only to find that delivery costs are substantial or that you have to pay a premium for next day delivery. Before making a purchase, double check the returns policy to make sure you can return any unwanted or unsatisfactory products free of charge.
- Customer Service - We all appreciate good customer service, particularly if you have a specific query or require some advice about an order. A friendly voice on the other side of the phone can save you time as well as provide advice and guidance on best value deals, which may have been overlooked, or service requirements.
- Look for added value - Loyalty schemes are commonplace amongst most retailers these days but look for the schemes, which really do give something back to your school. Last year, YPO’s share of profits loyalty scheme gave back £2 million to our customers. We gave back £7,400 to one school alone which was spent on additional educational resources.
- Good contract management - Schools are regularly tendering for essential services such as building maintenance, insurance or catering contracts. It is important to regularly review existing contracts to ensure your school is getting good value for money (as well the right level of service). When going out to tender, use an existing public sector framework, which will be fully compliant with procurement rules and gives your school a level of protection.
These are just a few simple ways of buying better, through which schools can deliver cost savings and achieve good value for money. For more advice on buying better please contact the YPO team on 01924 834 960 or email [email protected]