Hot Tips (Purchasing Cooperatives)

How A Purchasing Co-op Can Help

For people working hard to educate students, time and money are invaluable; there’s not a minute or a dollar to spare. That’s why it’s so important for districts to take advantage of every resource. Purchasing cooperatives are a great place to start.

Co-ops save you time and money by doing the work for you. Co-ops can offer competitive pricing that’s otherwise unavailable to individual districts by nationally leveraging their purchasing power. In other words, vendors are willing to exchange lowered prices for a pool of customers. When you’re part of a co-op, the vendor will provide a list of eligible and approved products available at exclusive prices — all you have to do is shop the list to save money.

If you’ve got a large project, you can use your co-op as a centralized place to see all products, so there’s no need to get multiple bids. These items are pre-approved to make sure they’re competitively priced and meet state guidelines — which means you don’t have to spend time wading through red tape. Since they’re designed to meet statutory, policy and administrative requirements, you can think of co-ops as a one-stop-shop for your district. Plus, you’ll benefit from “customized contact” perks. These include coordination of delivery and certain on-delivery services not available to individual customers.

When you join a co-op, you become a member of a network of educators. You’ll be invited to exclusive conferences on current trends, summer-creditive programs and opportunities to meet other educators. Essentially, a co-op offers a place for you to do all the things you want and need to do, but wouldn’t otherwise have time or money for.

Many co-ops offer free membership. TIPS is available nationally, is free to join and includes all standard services. Shop around and see what’s best for you.

This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of School Planning & Management.

About the Author

Angela Webb is director of Sales at School Outfitters. She can be reached at angela.webb@schooloutfitters.com.

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