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Old 10-24-2010, 05:31 PM
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I was wondering if anyone has done work for schools or sold units to schools. I'm thinking of contacting Superintendents in my area and letting them know what I do, asking them to let me know when they plan on doing a technology refresh, and that I would like to be the supplier for the refresh.
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Old 10-24-2010, 06:33 PM
Over the Moon IT Over the Moon IT is offline
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I think that schools typically have IT departments of their own that handle this kind of thing, and that you'd just be an additional middleman as opposed to ordering directly from Dell or HP or someone like that.

At least here in Wisconsin, many schools are going through some serious budget issues and are fighting hard to get approval from every purchase through the school board. In order for them to give you their business, you would have to be able to justify it by adding lots of benefits that they wouldn't get directly from the manufacturer and aren't provided by their current staff. Frankly there are not many things you can do to get in that gap unless you have some truly innovative ideas.

Don't let me stop you from trying, though. The worst they can do is say no, and you may get some personal work through the superintendent.
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Old 10-24-2010, 06:48 PM
ChristineB ChristineB is offline
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Are you able to carry them on terms for a large refresh? When I bid on some labs, I was informed that their terms were 90 days, and unfortunately I just didn't have the capital or line of credit to carry 6 labs for 90 days.

Are you familiar with the bidding process for schools? In MI schools are required to put anything over $X out for bid. (Can't remember the value of X but it's not that big) You should find out where those bids are published, and get yourself on the mailing list or set up the account so you can check them regularly. You'll probably find a lot of them going out in Jan - March with a closing date sometime in April or May.

You might find it easier to find work with a charter school management company. A charter school management company will usually either want to provide tech support OR have a strategic technology partner. If they provide tech support to their schools then it is either through their own employees or through a vendor they contract. If they have a strategic partner then usually that means the partner gets introduced to the schools but still has to go into the school and get the job on his own. However that partner also does things like help the management company develop IT standards across all of the schools, manage license compliance, and so on. It's kind of a "CIO" type of job for the management company. In my opinion that's where the $$ & growth potential is, if you happen to find the right management company. You should be prepared to learn about things like Smart Boards, Power School, Follet Destiny, and other things that you probably don't run into as an SMB / residential tech.

I also recommend building some relationships with people who work with e-rate and USF funding in your area. They can help you understand how the funding process works, and maybe they'll agree to work with you and give you a heads up on certain things. For example, if a school writes a tech plan and applies for funding, you could be called in to help write the plan or do the tech evaluation of the school. Or you may be called in to help the school develop the wish list that goes on their application. Review some of the websites for the schools ... they should have their technology plans on their websites.

In the last few years I have found that the real opportunity is not in selling hardware to the schools, but in being the consultant who advises them on purchasing, new technologies, compliance, and so on. And of course if you can get a service agreement for support, that's good too.

If you are really interested in breaking into the education market, you should look for some conferences & networking opportunities. MACUL is a great organization for people in Michigan ... not sure about an equivalent where you are.

Your regional ISDs and ESAs are also important resources. Maybe you can make some friends there.

Over the Moon is right about them fighting for every dollar. You might be able to get that to work for you though, if you can show how you are the better value.

Hope that helps. Good luck!
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Old 10-24-2010, 07:23 PM
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A local computer has a contract with the one school district and I was looking into competing the next time around. Well after reading all the requirement i.e. insurance, etc...it ends up being a big hassle that does not return enough profits. The money actually only comes to about $30 an hour for alot of the work being done.

I think you are better off if you can get in with private schools. I do that and it workds out great. They know they are not a "full" size school but they want all the IT assets as any school. Plus, they pay each and every month. My main school have had contract over 2 years now and never have missed a payment.
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Old 10-24-2010, 09:11 PM
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Thanks for the replies! That was the kind of information I was looking for.
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Old 10-24-2010, 10:40 PM
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We do Apple warranty repairs for two local universities, a community college, and a couple other school districts. Plus we just won another large contract for another school district which is giving all students laptops for us to do repairs on, which in turn turns into contract work for on-site administration. It helps having warranty repair capabilities to offer them which usually turns into other paid work. I had my hands on more school machines last week than I did customer walk-in work by far.
People fear what they don't understand and hate what they can't conquer. Andrew Smith
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