How to negotiate: tips for school business managers

As a school business manager, you have many different elements to your job, so it’s impossible to be amazing at every part! Negotiation is a skill any school business manager should have in their arsenal. But negotiating contracts can be challenging, particularly if you’ve never done it before. Negotiation is a skill that you can hone with the proper techniques over time.

You’re in charge of those purse strings, which means negotiating the best value contracts for your school’s needs. Whether it’s securing contracts for catering businesses, resource providers, or maintenance jobs — you need to negotiate for the best price going. Hopefully, the five tips below can help you gain a bit of confidence in the negotiation process and save you some money.

Push for a breakdown of costs

Asking the seller for a list of costings can help you understand specific service pricing, which means you could take out those services that are irrelevant to your school. Getting a list of prices like this can also help you understand additional charges, giving you a place to start negotiating from. Breaking down costs like this enables you to customise a best-fit contract for your school’s needs, ultimately securing the best price for your school.


Don’t rush into saying ‘yes’

Sounds simple, but sometimes when you’re trying to be agreeable, you end up nodding your head and accidentally succumbing to the first price the supplier proposes — don’t do that. Take your time and come back with a thoughtful counteroffer. Don’t feel hemmed into deciding on the spot; ask for some time to consider their pricing structure, go away and come back with well-thought-out points, so you feel in the most confident position to negotiate.


Do your research

Before heading into any negotiation you should have figured outline exactly what you want from the supplier. Approaching any contract negotiation with a firm idea of what your school does and doesn’t need can put you in a strong starting position because you can figure out quickly if a particular supplier ticks all your boxes. This means you’ll be able to sift through potential providers quickly.

Make sure you approach your first conversation with the supplier knowing as much information as you can about their business and the services they provide. Doing your research puts you in the driving seat — they’ll struggle to rip you off for services when you already know what they deliver for other schools.


Be ready to walk away

They say when you’re purchasing anything, you should be able to walk away from it easily if you’re not emotionally invested. It’s the same with any negotiation. There are probably many more suppliers willing to offer you a better service for better value, and even if there aren’t any, don’t let the supplier know that.

Keep your options open, and don’t buckle under the first offer. Remain determined, but keep in mind that the supplier contract has to benefit both you and the supplier.



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