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Secret to Selling Shirts to Schools

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Old December 22nd, 2010 Dec 22, 2010 2:19:26 PM -   #1 (permalink)
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Default Secret to Selling Shirts to Schools

I thought I would provide the techniques that have worked for me over the years in regards to selling screen printed t shirts to schools.

1. Stay away from high schools. There is too much competition as someone on the booster club always knows someone printing t shirts. You want to concentrate on elementary schools and if you run out of elementary schools work on middle schools and private schools.

The biggest problem people have who want to sell to schools are how to locate the person who orders the shirts. This is very difficult but can also be to your benefit once you find them. You will be looking for the PTA or PTO president. This person may change each year so once you do locate them and sell to them you will want to kindly ask them to keep you in the loop or pass your info to the next president for next year.

Schools are typically required to get 3 bids and most of the time these new PTA presidents have no idea who to contact. By you contacting them first and being there when you need them, it will go a long way.

So how do you get in contact with them? There are several ways but I will explain how I did it.

I was a big believer that I did not have to stay local. I searched for schools all over the country and had great success.

1. Go to google and type in the state and then "department of education" so for this example type in: Utah department of education

2. The first site you will see is USOE

3. On the home page click on the tab "Information" and then "Educational Directory".

You will see a free downloadable PDF that has every single updated school principle in the state of Utah. This includes phone number, name and email address. Most every state has the same type of list in either PDF or spreadsheet format.

You will want to do the following.

Email each principle with the subject line as: question / PTA

The body of the email will go like this:

Ms. Turner,

I'm not sure who this years PTA president is and would love to be placed on the bid list for the t shirts you order during the year. Would you happen to have the new PTA presidents email address or contact info?

Respectfully,

"your name"

____________

You will be surprised how far a nice question will go when emailing principles. One time I had over 100 responses from contacting about 180 principles in one day.

Just work on building a good relationship with the PTA president and then with the school. You can build a good list of clients in a short period of time.

Hope this helps!
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Old December 22nd, 2010 Dec 22, 2010 6:01:26 PM -   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Secret to Selling Shirts to Schools

Where does the payment usually come from with the PTA and what size orders do they typically place? I have a few high schools but getting paid sometimes takes up to 90 days. Not a big deal for a few hundred dollars but I am close to 90 days on one of the schools and the invoice is over $6,000.00. I will get it but it's tough to tie up that much cash for so long. I just wouldn't want to get in a slow pay situation with 10 or 20 schools.
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Old December 22nd, 2010 Dec 22, 2010 6:26:16 PM -   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Secret to Selling Shirts to Schools

Wow great letter, and nice approach.

if you read the letter it tell you how to get your foot in the door. it odes not talk about payments.
that is what you do when yo sigh a contract with school. and you are intitled to late fees.
Remember you set the terms. and they should abide by them.
 
 
Old December 22nd, 2010 Dec 22, 2010 6:30:52 PM -   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Secret to Selling Shirts to Schools

And then they remove you from the approved vendor list. It is what it is with my customer I was just wondering how he handled the finances with the PTA.
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Old December 22nd, 2010 Dec 22, 2010 6:37:41 PM -   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Secret to Selling Shirts to Schools

I am not sure what state your in
I am in VA and I work with about 7 schools,
I also work with schools in NY if you give them good customer service and a good product that is what counts. Real simple I tell them point blank I need to get paid as we agreed upon because of my over head and I have to but food on my table which I say in a joking but direct way.. Trust me they understand and they will make sure you get paid. Again its how you set up the terms with them.
If you feel your going to be taken off the list them bottom line you didn't make them happy lol

good luck
 
Old December 22nd, 2010 Dec 22, 2010 6:59:29 PM -   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Secret to Selling Shirts to Schools

Yeah this is a little different situation. I am actually dealing with a school district that has over 25 schools including 5 high schools. I sell directly to each school and they sell the merchandise in their school stores but all payments are issued by a separate finance office for the district. The schools love the quality and price of the product so the individual schools are going to bat for me to get payments processed quicker through finance. There is one person that turns the order in, another that issues the PO then another that is responsible for processing the payment. If they can't tighten payment I may have to increase prices to help offset having to wait so long.
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Old December 22nd, 2010 Dec 22, 2010 7:06:09 PM -   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Secret to Selling Shirts to Schools

We just went to the district offiice and registered as a vendor. They gave us preferred status. Provide a W-9 and that is pretty much it.

Oops, one more thing. You really need an in with someone. Once you get that you will pick up a lot of work.
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Old December 22nd, 2010 Dec 22, 2010 7:25:47 PM -   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Secret to Selling Shirts to Schools

Good post Ryan, thanks for sharing your strategy.

To those of you who are targeting schools ... building strong relationships with the right people is critical to your success. Once you get your foot in the door, make sure you follow the protocol or procedures that the school requires, and maintain a dialogue with the folks who may be able to assist you or open doors for you (i.e. PTA officers, Sports Booster officers, Coaches, Teachers, Principals, etc).

If you can demonstrate that you are dependable, that you provide great service, and that your products are good quality, you will get some jobs thrown your way.

Also, try to optimize your sales by planning ahead for annual events (homecoming, sports banquets, senior prom, etc).

Good luck!
 
Old December 22nd, 2010 Dec 22, 2010 8:43:43 PM -   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Secret to Selling Shirts to Schools

Great post

but if you want to keep them and never let them go.
Thank yo have to give back a little, i do raffle tickets and flyers at no charge.
And i do have specials on shirts and they always know they can contact me for anything.
Bottom line is you have to be creative and know how to please them. And they will give you the world.
 
Old December 23rd, 2010 Dec 23, 2010 12:13:49 AM -   #10 (permalink)
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Default

Well it's no longer a secret
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Old December 23rd, 2010 Dec 23, 2010 2:23:55 PM -   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Secret to Selling Shirts to Schools

Thanks Instock Labels. We've done things for schools throughout the years.

In our state local highschools assign one teacher per class to work with for all that classes activities.

The teach works with them all four years starting their freshman year. If you can get with that person starting the freshman year, you have that class for four year.

We started when my daughter was a senior in high school. Thankfully she went out for the Powder Puff team. She actually asked the Teacher how much their last screen printer charged. The said $11 each. My daughter said we'll do it for $10. The lady just stared at her and couldn't believe my daughter just negociated the price like that.

The teacher then called me to confirm we'd do and I'd I told her yes, we'll do it for that price.

We also received a few more orders from the Swim Team. Since then we haven't received anymore, but have done many orders for many other schools.

There is one really simple thing that works, and many of us do it already. However, many of you and sometimes me, don't like doing it. It's really simple.

Do you know what that is?
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Old December 24th, 2010 Dec 24, 2010 4:52:21 AM -   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Secret to Selling Shirts to Schools

I would imagine that Paul is refering to contacting your customer on a regular basis. I know I hate calling on customers.

As for schools and getting paid. I did some work for the local school and was told that it was a state rule that they couldn't pay for anything until the recieved it and then it would take 30 days to issue a check. I never followed up on the state level to see if I was getting told the truth (I suspect I wasn't - just the nature of things in this area). They went back to using the vendor from h*ll that gives them bad service and rotten designs and overcharges them. I suspect it is a relative or something (just the way things work in this area).

Thanks for the tips about not having to be in the area. I think I just might expand to the bigger schools.
 
Old December 24th, 2010 Dec 24, 2010 6:41:22 AM -   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Secret to Selling Shirts to Schools

One other thing to consider that there will always be someone at the school that 'knows' someone else who will do the work. Always get paid up front with a 50%-100% non-refundable deposit before you do any work at all.

We have had 'orders' but when it came time to pay, oops, someone else did it already. We never start without the money up front.
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Old December 27th, 2010 Dec 27, 2010 6:02:32 PM -   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Secret to Selling Shirts to Schools

Irish is correct. I'm talking about Calling back and/or Cold Calling. Many people hate too do it including me.

I'd rather go to a Small Business Network meeting and tell multiple people at one time what we do.

Paul
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Old December 27th, 2010 Dec 27, 2010 8:05:21 PM -   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Secret to Selling Shirts to Schools

Great tip thank you.
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