A Middle School Dance or Solid Business Partnerships?

By Damon Norris

Welcome to the new charter operations blog. This blog is designed to cover a wide range of charter operations topics. Almost all of us have questions. And while I don’t have all the answers, I will dig into a topic and ensure I come out with information that supports our charter business leaders and vendors.

As the Director of Business and Member Services for the Arizona Charter School Association, my goal is to help our charter schools and corporate supporters (vendors) gain a better understanding of each other. I believe that together, our school members and corporate supporters can bridge the gap that has persisted in the charter school world.

Recently, I was talking to a colleague and it hit me. Our world is like a middle school dance. The vendors (corporate supporters) are on one side of the room, while the schools are on the other side. Neither one really understands how to talk to each other, and while some are brave enough to venture into the center of the room, it takes way too long to form a partnership that can stand the test of time.

Partnerships are important to your bottom line, and therefore should be the focus of meetings between a vendor and a school. It has been said that there can never be a win-win when it comes to a partnership, and I beg to differ. Building the partnership with a vendor can save you hundreds if not thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars down the line. If I told you that you could trim a $300,000 order down to $200,000 by just working together and building trust and understanding, would you do it?

I believe it is time to break down the walls between the two parties and allow for both sides to better understand each other. If you can save just a single dollar on every purchase, think about how much that can add up to. Without a better understanding and building a true partnership, you’re costing yourself money, and as a vendor, costing yourself a deal.

In the upcoming blog posts, I plan to cover:

  • Purchasing – Why do you need to worry about it?
  • Purchase Orders – Who needs them and why do you need them?
  • Partnerships – Does my vendor need to be my friend?
  • How to maximize your spending and gain the most savings.
  • Do Arizona charter schools have to bid?
  • What is group purchasing and is it right for you?
  • How to balance price vs quality.
  • Optimizing organizational structure.
  • How to talk to a vendor and get the most out of it.
  • How to talk to a school as a vendor and get the most out of it.

Do you have other topics, or questions you would like me to cover? Please contact with me so I can make sure to cover them! I look forward to the journey this blog will take us on, and hope that it provides answers and insight for you.