School contracts: A new way to do them?

I feel compelled to respond to what I think is the best letter ever published in routeone, by Darren Critchley. We all know that school contracts are low margin, but to word it in the way that Darren did really hits home.

I have two children, aged 11 and 13. Like Darren, every time they go on a school trip, I check who is taking them. Luckily, normally a good and reputable local operator does. On the occasions it does not, I take them or they don’t go.

I even provided a 25-seater once for nothing for my own peace of mind as an overflow to make sure my child was in my vehicle. If you want school work, there is no way you can invest in a decent fleet without massive volume. That involves overheads that will sink you without many quality staff and internal systems that school work cannot justify.

I am sad to say that we have only ever done regular trips for private schools. They are able to pay the higher prices. I get phone calls from other schools, but my prices are prohibitive, the reasons for which I do my best to explain.

This brings me to my main point. Many brokers have a bad name. Whenever I am contacted they normally don’t get more than one sentence before the call is over.

However, I was approached in a different way by broker Coachhire.com a few months ago. I have to say I was very impressed. The only way to do school work is to win a massive volume of contracts, something I have no interest in. I neither have the staff nor the time to get anywhere with it.

But this broker is doing just that, and doing it well. It has several reputable operators on its books. Most impressive is that this broker seems to have found a way to get across the message that Darren so brilliantly articulated: That the lives of our children are the most precious thing there is.

As a result of this broker’s growth, the prices are right for better operators with better vehicles. I have agreed to start a contract this month.

It is easy to just say: “We don’t work for brokers”. That has always been my attitude. But a company that has invested to try and make a difference for the better is worth listening to in my opinion.

Greg White
White’s St Albans