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General Chat Thread, How does the system work? in General; I am really confused about the education system and would really appreciate some help. I run a small installation company ...
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    Smile How does the system work?

    I am really confused about the education system and would really appreciate some help.

    I run a small installation company based in Nottingham, we install computer network cabling and fibre optics. We also subcontract to other companies working in schools.

    We either install interactive whiteboards purchased by the school or move an existing projector and whiteboard into another classroom.

    I have recently enquired how we go about working for schools, i appreciate there is an approved contractors list direct to the council which is renewed every 2-3 years. However i have been told that some schools can use their own contractors for small works.

    Is it the case that only contractors on a specific list can be used.

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    pagelad's Avatar
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    if its an approved company we can buy from them straight away,

    If it isnt though we generally have to get quotes from 3 sources and then go from there.

    Ive never hired someone for something really big though,

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    So to move an existing white and projector would not necessarily mean waiting for an opening on the councils list.

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    pagelad's Avatar
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    Nope,

    We found a company a few weeks ago and they have installed 3 for me this month.

    You do have to be pretty competitive though,

    Weve been paying 580 for a new projector , moving the existing pole and fitting a new mounting bracket. Thats with a 3 year bulb warranty and a 3 year "move" warranty where we can call them to move it to another location no questions once within 3 years.

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    If there are any FE colleges or independent schools in your area then they will buy directly from a supplier without using any kind of approved list. They are likely to have their own list of "preferred" suppliers but this isn't fixed and individual purchasing managers (the title may be different) will make the decision.

    I used to work in FE; I regularly got calls from suppliers of all kinds. I'm afraid that most of the calls were a waste of time but the odd one would come at just the right moment - a regular supplier would be unable to help or would have done something weird (upped prices by silly money, for example) and a new contractor would look like a good idea and I'd recommend them to purchasing.

    You can also get satisfied customers to recommend you - there are often queries here from people saying "can you recommend a company for X" but that, of course, means you need to have done good work in order to get recommended. Once you do get customers who are pleased with what you've done, it does no harm to ask them to mention your name to other colleagues etc.

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    Although it's a little different down here on the Isle of Wight (mainland companies are less interested in on-site stuff, due to the added cost/time of the ferries), the local authority does recommend that all suppliers are registered on the School Quote system. We did register on there, but discovered that it's mainly used for purchasing of equipment, and not the consultancy/installation that we provide.

    I'd say that getting a good relationship going with a couple of schools should be a priority, as word-of-mouth is by far the best advertising.

    It's also worth investigating local building firms - keep an eye out for boards outside schools when work's being done. They often don't have the skills to do the cabling themselves so you may find a way in through there too.

    Stephen
    Last edited by SteveMC; 13th February 2009 at 11:09 PM.

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    powdarrmonkey's Avatar
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    These policies are very dependent on the type of school, individual school policies, and individual LA policies. Foundation schools, for example, have much more freedom.

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    Thankyou, it makes more sense now.

    Can i ask who is generally responsible for sourcing contractors

    Is it the head or the School administrators?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matthewstuart View Post
    Thankyou, it makes more sense now.

    Can i ask who is generally responsible for sourcing contractors

    Is it the head or the School administrators?
    It tends to vary, - small schools may well have the head teacher directly involved in sourcing contractors, but in larger ones it may be a business manager, or the network manager - even in some cases the IT coordinator. If you're unsure, usually sending to the head teacher will get it intercepted by the admin staff who'll probably deliver it to the appropriate person.

    Stephen

  10. Thanks to SteveMC from:

    Matthewstuart (14th February 2009)

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    pagelad's Avatar
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    Ususally in mine the head or the ICT co-ordinator say "we want to do X" then they speak to me (Technician) i explain what they need and usually reccomend a supplier and a specific product.

    Very rarely do other people purchase things as they usually waste money on crap!

  12. Thanks to pagelad from:

    Matthewstuart (14th February 2009)

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    From what I have seen, there are some pretty dire IWB installations out there, especially older ones. You could try offering a free inspection service to Primary schools that may not have their own ICT Technician. That would get you into some doors. The other offer you could make is an annual projector maintenance. I know if someone offered the right price to do that here , I'd bite their hand off. It's one job I hate.

    There a lot of good installations as well
    Last edited by laserblazer; 14th February 2009 at 10:16 AM. Reason: Covering butt!

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    Matthewstuart (14th February 2009)

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    StewartKnight's Avatar
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    I would get, and advertise as such, that your staff are CRB checked as well.

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    Matthewstuart (14th February 2009)

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    All IT requirments and procurement come through me (NM). Usually email is the best way. A good email giving details of services offered with examples and preferably some pricing is more likely to go in my 'possible suppliers' list than a phone call.

    A web site that loads images quickly (image 1) and is informative helps

    As to who we use is up to me. I don't always go for the cheaper option as long as I can justify it, but usually cheaper gets you short listed.

    Being on the LEA preferred suppliers list helps as anything over 10k is passed. Anything over 10K from a supplier not on the preferred list requires 3 quotes to keep auditors happy. (The 10K is cumulative).

    Things that keep me happy
    Good communications - I may need things in a hurry.
    Good workmanship - fail my standards and you won't be asked again.
    Clean up after installation - failure means caretakers won't allow you in again.
    Excellent competitive pricing including prompt, accurate quotes.
    Excellent warranty and call out times to suit us.
    Flexibility - sometimes things change at the eleventh hour.
    Good consultation, before during and after.
    High quality goods.

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    Matthewstuart (14th February 2009)

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    For me, I don't look at any 'approved suppliers' list - doing so would severely limit what I could do, and increase costs significantly.

    Instead, every order is triple quoted (or more, in some cases i've got 7 - 10 quotes), and the best supplier for the order is chosen. Best not always meaning cheapest though.

    Schools have devolved control of their finances, and with it, they have complete control over the companies they do business with.

  20. Thanks to localzuk from:

    Matthewstuart (14th February 2009)

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    dalsoth's Avatar
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    I doubt your calls would even get past my technician. He fields all cold calls. Unless i am looking for something we just take companies details from an email address they send them to and file them away for when we need something.

    If he is feeling particularly annoyed by the half dozen or more sales calls a day (particularly the same companies ringing up despite being told there is no money this year) he just gives em an email we never check or tells them to call at 4pm when we have gone home.

    Most times though we work with those we have built up a relationship with. Occasionally we will add a quote from another company but usually regret it as most are just bluff and bluster.

  22. Thanks to dalsoth from:

    Matthewstuart (14th February 2009)

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